Hooniverse Asks: What’s a car repair with a dumb or annoying step?

Earlier in the week, I told you how easy it was to wrench on a modern car. Well, today I’m here to atone for my foolishness. We swapped out the F-250 for a 2007 Toyota Camry. I’ve changed the brakes, a wheel hub, front strut, and a lower control arm in addition to lights and body panels. And on that lower control arm, you have to remove an engine mount to get to the front control arm bolts. This means you have to jack up the engine a bit to get the engine mount clear of its mounting holes. So the control arm, which has a total of six bits of hardware holding it to the car requires a vital engine mounting point be removed. That part isn’t too difficult in the grand scheme, but it’s incredibly tedious and I hate having part of the engine unsecured while I’m working on the suspension.

So what are some other, and I’m sure far worse, car repairs that require dumb or annoying steps?

14 Comments

  1. dropping the intake manifold on my 99 Volvo required pulling out a banjo bolt connected to the incredibly complex PCV system. that banjo bolt let oily air back into the manifold when the throttle was shut. installing the bolt required stretching the three hoses it was attached to, twisting it off-angle, and trying to turn it with just the very tips of your fingers, underneath the manifold where you couldn’t see it. after that you have to turn it 10 degrees at a time some there was no space for a 17mm wrench. i had to drop that manifold so many times that i could have it off and back on in like 45 minutes, 30 of which were that one fucking banjo bolt.

  2. To replace an MGB’s windshield, start by disconnecting the battery and draining the cooling system. This is because the entire windshield frame assembly must be removed from the car so it may be taken apart from around the old glass and reassembled around the new glass. To do this, the dash must be moved out of position for access to the bolts holding the windshield frame to the body, which means the gauges must be disconnected (hence the battery is involved), including the bulb-style temperature gauge (hence the cooling system is involved). Once the windshield frame is off the car, it’s a simple matter of…

      1. Not necessarily functional, just connected with slightly too little slack to allow moving the dash far enough out of the way. Undoing the battery is still a good move in any case, as some of the wires are almost certainly live, perhaps just not those which should be.

  3. Any car that needs stuff to be removed to change headlight or indicator globes.

    Transverse V6 rear bank spark plugs – fully intend never to have to do that in my life.

    1. My Prius required bumper removal to change the headlight bulbs, officially. Thankfully, if you were willing to jam your hands into tight spaces, you could skip that step.

  4. Perhaps not completely dumb, but very, very annoying: Volvo 240 blower motor and/or heater core. The rumor is that Volvo started with the blower motor and then built the rest of the car around it. A full day’s work, IF you’ve done it before and know where all of the fasteners are. Disconnect battery, drain coolant, remove entire gauge cluster, remove glovebox, remove entire dashboard. It helps if you remove the front seats. Don’t forget to keep track of all the wiring and vacuum lines you’ll need to disconnect. You’ll probably want to clean all of the dust and schmutz out, too. Last but not least, after this many years the odds are excellent that someone has half-assed it before you, never really finished the job properly, and lost several assembly screws.

    It’s also a textbook example of “might as well fix/replace some other stuff while I’m in there”. Gauges, dash lights, wiring, switchgear, hoses, windshield wipers. And you’ll cry yourself to sleep at night if one of the heater hoses leaks after you’ve reassembled, so there’s lots of check it and check it again, starting the car to pressure test -before- you’ve got it all put back together.

    People have outright sold their 240s rather than having to deal with blower motor replacement, especially if they have to pay someone else to do it. I’ve done three so far and would do it again now that I know where all the bits go, but I wouldn’t enjoy it.

    1. PS: So, to be clear, not an annoying step as such, but a series of steps that are very annoying in aggregate. Also, the photo shows the process taking place in my 1982 Turbo wagon, not long after I brought it home in 2016. I’m still daily driving it, and yes, the blower motor still works!

    2. the 240 heater core is legendary. they learned their lesson – changing the heater core on my V70 was pretty much a twenty minute job once you had the coolant drained. (or in my case, drained the coolant into the carpet.)

    3. You can blame the 240 heater blower issue on Volvo’s need for US sales. You see, the basic heater unit that the rest of the world got had a 30 minute blower change. But US sales required integrated A/C and that necessitated this system redesign that made a blower change a nightmare.

      The legendary Tim Walma, a dealer tech who moved up to be a VCNA Service Trainer, could do one by the book in 45 minutes, and earn his 8 hours flat rate. I never got that good, but by the time I was on my 3rd one, I could do it in 3 hours.

      1. This goes straight to my mental trivia compartment, fascinating! I never knew there were heater blower ninjas, only just defeated people.

  5. At the moment, getting the carburetor out of a Honda CM250C, remove the seat and fuel tank, wrestle the throttle and choke cables off and figure out how to get it free of the airbox, intake manifold and emissions hoses. In comparison I can have a carb off of my 78 BMW in about 5 minutes if I cheat and leave the slide and carb top on the throttle cable. I’ve put this off for almost two decades so now I have to face the music, I’ve done it before, just need to remember how

  6. Any time the process goes from reaching for the wrench to reaching for the torch due to rust. Northeast cars are the pits to work on. Don’t forget the step where you stop all progress to order new parts and fastners for the ones that were destroyed upon removal. Rust kills budgets, time and cars.

  7. Might not be so much dumb as required by necessity, but I doubt I’ll ever forget the dumbfounded, headscratching feeling I got when I noticed that one of the belts for the transverse V6 in my parents’ Honda Odyssey actually encircled one of the engine mounts. Apparently disconnecting that engine mount and jacking that side of the engine just enough to provide enough of a gap to get the belt out isn’t THAT bad, but it looks awful Escher-ish the first time you recognize what you’re seeing.

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