Mechanics share automotive horror stories

Staff writer

From a routine oil change to replacing blown transmissions, mechanics periodically diagnose and repair vehicles with any number of problems, some of which can make even the most experienced motorist shiver at the thought.

Brute strength

Auto technician Alan Kruse worked on nightmare repair when a Ford F-550 6.4 liter diesel pickup truck rolled into Webster’s Auto in Marion with nearly all of the exhaust manifold bolts broken off in the cylinder head.

“When it came in, it had this shrill sound, a whistle that was so loud it would have made every dog on the block bark,” he said. “An exhaust leak of that magnitude would eliminate the turbo boost those trucks need to tow big cattle loads.”

Kruse quickly knew the repair would take a substantial amount of garage time and physical labor. There was also a time frame problem because the client desperately needed the truck to tow a load of cattle to Texas.

“Those titanium bolts are designed to withstand the intense heat and pressure generated by the turbo boost in the engine,” he said. “The heat had made them brittle. So I had to drill them out.”

With the truck suspended on a lift, Kruse held an industrial drill above his head for about eight hours the first day of repairs, at the end of which there was still more to do.

However, if Kruse had not performed the repair, the client risked losing the turbo boost capability to tow heavy loads.

“You don’t plan on jobs like that but you try to keep everyone happy,” he said.

Kruse spent the rest of the week working on the job a couple hours a day between other jobs.

“You just got to grin and bear it,” Kruse said. “I had the best drill bit money can buy, but even then, I had to sharpen it every minute or so.”

He had to make sure to keep the drill straight because if he were to drill the bolts out crooked he risked ruining the cylinder head.

Overall, Kruse spent about 18 hours over a week period drilling out bolts before the truck was functional again.

A mysterious problem

Not long ago, Peabody Farm Services owner Dick Alcorn worked on a 2000 Chevrolet Tahoe that coasted in off the highway with a mysterious problem.

“The lady that brought it in said that it just kept dying for no apparent reason,” Alcorn said. “It would for run for about 5 to 10 miles and then just stop.”

While checking under the hood, he discovered the engine was missing almost every drop of oil.

“The sticker on the windshield said the oil hadn’t been changed in about 6,000 to 7,000 miles,” he said.

Alcorn refilled the Tahoe with oil but continued searching because he knew the lack of oil was not the source of the vehicle’s mysterious behavior.

“It turned out to be the fuel pump,” Alcorn said. “It could have totally died or sent pieces through the engine; it was only a couple thousand miles away from doing that.”

To fix the problem, he had to drop the fuel tank out of the vehicle, open the tank, disconnect multiple wires and plugs, and knock out the dysfunctional fuel pump.

He then could install a new one and send his customer on down the road.

 

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