Don’t Be Like Them: The Worst Car Owners You’ll Ever Find

Our CarCure service gives consumers the confidence they need to know that they’re capable of keeping their cars in top shape by using our massive set of data to find them the right repair, with the right automotive technician, at the right price for the job. As sure that CarCure empowers users to build smart car care habits, we ultimately can’t force them to avoid ruining their cars themselves. That’s for them to prevent. We doubt that the truly clueless and bumbling drivers out there are reading this blog entry, but if you’ve ever felt like anything less than an automotive expert, then maybe you’ll feel a little better about your basic automotive knowledge once you understand the sheer ineptitude that some drivers manage to live with.

As in our previous round of car care horror stories, Reddit has turned out to be a goldmine of stories from auto repair technicians who gather in groups to share their most bizarre memories.

As detailed in one particular discussion:

“40ish year old man steaming mad because his Ford Escape had a locked up engine at 19k miles. When asked for his service records he looked confused for a second, put his hand on his hips and spat out, ‘The damn thing never told me it needed an oil change.’ Still, respect for the little engine making it that far.”

Do you need someone to tell you to brush your teeth? Do you need permission to get your hair cut? Probably not. Along the same lines, don’t assume your car is equipped with a “Maintenance Required” light that’ll appear every few thousand miles, if you’re not positive about it. Many cars do have them, but in case yours doesn’t, don’t waste your engine’s life waiting for a signal that’ll never come. You shouldn’t need much impetus or incentive to do the bare minimum in caring for something you’ve paid thousands of dollars for.

In the same Reddit thread, another user told a story of another driver’s faulty assumption about her car’s finer details.

“Not a mechanic, but I took a couple semesters of automotive classes in college. We would work on random peoples’ cars who didn’t have the money to pay for parts AND labor. One lady had her car towed in because it was making weird noises. We checked a few basic things first, then started it to see what the noise sounded like and the exhaust system spit out a whole bunch of nasty sludge and smoke but wouldn’t actually run.

 Turns out, she thought the opening to add gas was the opening to add everything. When she first started having problems, she dumped oil, antifreeze, brake fluid, and windshield washer fluid in there to ‘make sure it wasn’t running low on fluids.’”

Had this woman previously owned an old Saab or an East German “Trabant,” whose two-stroke engines called for a specific mixture of gasoline and oil, like a glorified lawnmower? Did she forget that the fluid mixture ENDS at motor oil, rather than beginning there? That’s just about the only imaginable circumstance in which we could cut her any slack. To be fair, however, it’s doubtful that the lady’s car spewed out much less smoke than either of those two older cars were known for!

Reddit user zerogear5 encountered a peculiar “modification” done to a vehicle to keep emissions in check.

I used to know a 30 year old who would put the car air freshener duct taped outside the exhaust, kind of just dangling in front of the opening. His logic was it makes the exhaust smell better for pedestrians.”

Meanwhile, here we all are, concerned with sustainability, relying on expensive catalytic converters, or dishing out cash for hybrids and electric cars like a bunch of suckers. It turns out that a roll of tape and a cheap little freshener were all we needed. Problem solved. I’m sure the emissions testers will understand next time you bring your car in for inspection!

Speaking of simplified alternatives to “superfluous” car components…

“Guy pulls up needing a flat repair. He pulled up in a way the car could be just pulled in. Co worker goes to pull it in and can’t stop, slams into his box. Wasn’t going fast enough to damage anything. Car had zero brakes, say something to the customer “oh the foot brake? That hasn’t worked in years, you have to use the hand brake” 

We inspect the vehicle and discover it doesn’t even have brake calipers in the front. With the hoses clamped off and not an ounce of Brake fluid in the master cylinder. 

And the most surprising part, they didn’t want to get the brake repairs done.”

Well, perhaps not all of us are so demanding for extravagant luxuries like “foot brakes.” Maybe the guy just couldn’t nail the intricate footwork required for TWO pedals. It’s a wonder that he didn’t just keep the “hand brake” on all the time, so it’d always be engaged when he needed it!

Sometimes, techs discover an unfamiliar feature to a car’s powertrain that most drivers would assume was left off their particular make and model.

“There was one particular instance where my journeyman pulled in a truck that had spent the night on our lot. He opened the hood, and backed up with a start. When I went to investigate for myself, I found a small pair of eyes staring back at me; there was a small kitten hiding in a groove of the engine block. Turns out that he had climbed up there during the day, couldn’t get down, rode on the engine the 20 kilometres to town, and then spend the night stuck on the engine. He was okay, and returned safely to his owner.”

Perhaps this one deserves a pass; it’s more a matter of careless pet ownership than anything else. After all, do any of us have the heart to blame a kitten for wanting a warm place to cuddle up? Who among us wouldn’t rather find something adorable when we pop the hood, rather than some kind of dreaded mechanical issue? The only advice we’d really have to give here is to keep a close eye on your pets, and to listen for any unusual meowing from your vehicle; chances are, that’s not supposed to happen.

So, while we maintain our confidence that CarCure will get your car properly diagnosed for the right repair and sent to the right tech, all for the right price, we hope that the car-owning public will understand the importance of doing their own small, bare-minimum part in keeping your cars’ health from getting completely out of hand. Knowing the basics will take you a long way, and could save you from big trouble in the future!

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