Hooniverse Asks: What’s your best non-fix car fix?

I walked out to my car. The puddle of fuel behind it was frustrating as I’d fixed a fuel leak early on during my ownership period with this particular machine. Now it seems fuel was leaking from a new spot. The car in question is my 1974 Mercedes-Benz 280 and the fuel leak occurred when I left the car parked for two weeks in the same spot.

Nose pointing up. The car was sitting on a hill outside of my condo complex. I didn’t notice the leak at first, so I fired the car up and took it for a drive. While out, I stopped at the gas station to fill up. Then I returned home and parked in the same spot. Later I came back out to the car and noticed a very slow, small drip from the rear end of the Benz.

After a trip to O’Reillys for proper fuel storage containers and a suction pump, I pulled the Benz into my garage. On level ground, there was no leak. Curious. I let the car sit overnight with an empty catch tank underneath the spot from where I spotted the leak prior. The next morning? Dry as a bone. The leak stopped.

The next test involved putting the car back out on the street. This time I tried parking it nose down. No leak. I’ve since parked it in a variety of ways, and there’s still no leak. It seems leaving the car sitting nose up for two weeks isn’t ideal and the fuel lines could use a closer eyeball, but for now the problem is “solved”.

So what’s been your best non-fix fix?

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32 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: What’s your best non-fix car fix?”

  1. E34less Avatar

    Turn it off and back on again. Followed closely by whacking a sticking starter with a big freakin’ hammer and a stick of wood.

  2. Zentropy Avatar

    For months I had an intermittent short in my AMC Spirit that would render the starter powerless. I could replace the fuse and be good for a few hours, days, or weeks, but eventually it would blow again. Despite exhaustive efforts, I couldn’t determine the cause. I got into the habit of keeping two screwdrivers under the hood, and would cross them over the solenoid to provide power to the starter and fire up the engine.
    One night after replacing the fuse (for the 100th time), I noticed a spark at my hip as I was buckling up. It turns out that the wire for the seatbelt warning light had rubbed the metal reinforcement in the seatbelt latch to the point of breaking through the insulation. Why a passive warning light shared common power with the starter solenoid is beyond my understanding.

    1. Vairship Avatar

      “We’ll make SURE no-one drives this car without buckling up, dagummit!”

      1. ptschett Avatar

        NHTSA logic for the 1974 model year.
        (Then some congresscreatures bought 1974 cars and were shortly thereafter displeased with the reliability of the era’s electronics…)

      2. ptschett Avatar

        NHTSA logic for the 1974 model year.
        (Then some congresscreatures bought 1974 cars and were shortly thereafter displeased with the reliability of the era’s electronics…)

  3. 0A5599 Avatar

    I had a radiator top tank that dripped coolant when there was air in the system and didn’t noticeably drip when it was 100% full. I suppose the metal expanded at different rates depending on whether it was wet or dry. Every week or so I would add about a pint; longer than that would be a gallon.

  4. P161911 Avatar

    My 1987 BMW 325 (owned circa 2006-2008) had a mystery battery drain and a habit of the wipers coming back on, if left in the on position, several minutes after shutting off the car. I never did find the source of the battery drain, it could drain the battery in just a couple of hours sometimes. I just installed a battery shut off switch.

  5. Maymar Avatar

    On my old Cavalier, the fan speed regulator burned out at the most commonly used (lower) speeds, so it was full blast or nothing. I did eventually replace it, but in the interim, using the vent function on the sunroof pulled air out of the car (and through the vents) at about the same speed as one of the lower settings.

  6. Sjalabais Avatar

    Slightly off because I actually did something, but after advice on right this here blog I tried something like K Seal on a leaking radiator. Months later, I still can’t believe that this really works, and I keep checking the coolant level every other week or so.

    1. Manxman Avatar

      Years ago I did the same thing on an old Buick Centurion covertible. It lasted over a year and was still working when I sold it.

  7. Batshitbox Avatar

    The starter never worked on my Triumph TR7. For the few months that I owned it I bump started it and parked on a hill, or brought a friend along. I never bothered to look and see if there even was a starter motor on that thing.
    Years later I had a Honda GL1100 with the same condition, and solution.

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      Friends have an old tractor that hasn’t had a working battery in 20 years, it gets parked on a hill.

  8. P161911 Avatar

    The 1967 Imperial convertible in my avatar had a leaking gas tank if you filled it more than about 1/4 full. I just strapped a 10 gallon boat gas tank down in the truck. It was a toy, so the < 100 mile range wasn't much of an issue.

  9. Manxman Avatar

    In college I was driving a hand-me-down 62 Ford Galaxie I6. Seems like the thermostat was removed years before and it ran nice and cool in the central Texas summers. But in the winter, no heat at all. On a trip to San Antonio from Austin I pulled into a 7/11, found a cardboard box and covered the front of the radiator with a big piece of cardboard. I had heat and defroster. Just had to remember to pull the cardboard out in spring. I was too lazy and cheap to put a new thermostat in, and the Ford I6 was one of the easiest to do.

  10. I_Borgward Avatar

    A friend called one morning. He couldn’t get his Volvo 240 to start, and asked if I could come over to take a look at it.

    I went to his house, walked over to the car, closed my eyes and laid my hands on its hood. I then uttered a mystic chant (actually a string of random syllables).

    “Try it now”, I said.

    It fired right up.

  11. mdharrell Avatar

    Acquire an additional car.

    1. 0A5599 Avatar

      It only counts if it isn’t a parts car, unless it’s in better running condition than the similar car you already had.

  12. ptschett Avatar

    My ’73 Cougar’s ignition switch wasn’t traveling all the way to ‘start’, but it would travel to ‘on’. The solenoid was mounted quite accessibly, just inside the right fender about halfway back in the engine compartment, so for a few months I started it by using a screwdriver to jump between the power feed from the battery and the terminal that would engage the solenoid.

  13. alex Avatar

    I recall two:

    From the way-back, I was 18 and bought a 1956 Chevy after my first year in college. As I recall, it had perhaps 60k miles on it, but it was completely used up. When it wouldn’t start, I’d grab a screwdriver, drop it down the carburetor to hold the butterfly open, and then start the car. Then, I’d retrieve the screwdriver, put WAMO on the radio and take off.

    Later, but still in the era of carburetors, was the famous “Italian Tuneup.” This involved taking a sluggish car out to the highway and “blowing the carbon out.”

    I invite comments from anyone who actually remembers WAMO

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      The “Italian Tuneup” was relevant for decades. I even saw a service memo for the first Volvo V40 T4 that stated that at every service intervall, the car should be driven at 4-5k rpm for five minutes. Not sure if that is limited to snoozy Volvodrivers and their performance engines though…and around the port city of Kiel in Germany, you’ll find lots of usually slow moving, stranded Scandinavian vehicles. They enter the Autobahn with their underused, carbonchoked cars and watch their engines die right after thinking: “Now or never”.

      1. Lokki Avatar

        A million years ago, when my uncle was a teen, he got a Speeding ticket for driving 80 or 90 miles an hour. When my grandfather called him out on it, my uncle’s defense was that he had just rebuilt the engine and that he needed to run the engine at high rpm to seat the rings. My grandfather was unimpressed.

        “Couldn’t you just have driven it around in second gear?”

        “Oh”, my uncle said….. “yeah”.

    2. Manxman Avatar

      I worked at a Gulf gas station on weekends during high school and my boss would do what he called “hill billy” tuneups by having me sit in the driver’s seat and rev the engine while he poured RC Cola (not Coke or Pepsi – it had to be RC) into the carb. Then he would have me take the car over to I35 and run it fast. A southern version of the Italian tuneup with a twist.

      1. I_Borgward Avatar

        RC Cola?! Did he throw a Moon Pie into the air cleaner for good measure?

  14. salguod Avatar

    My 1980 Chevy Monza developed a sticking starter. The engine would start, I’d let go of the key and the starter would keep going. After the starter got hot enough to ignite the oil on the starter (it put itself out) I took it to the shop a mechanic friend. When it caught fire in his shop, he refused to work on it.

    I needed another solution, so I parked on a hill and roll started it for the remainder of my ownership.

  15. Fuhrman16 Avatar

    My Mazda has an intermediate short in the radio (common issue with these apparently) causing it not to play sound sometimes. A solid whack on the dash above the radio to the right of the air vent usually fixes it.

  16. outback_ute Avatar

    Wacked siezed drum brakes with a hammer to free them off so the car would roll.

    1. Zentropy Avatar

      I despise drum brakes. I’d happily change ten pairs of pads if I could avoid changing the shoes on just one corner.

      1. outback_ute Avatar

        At least percussive maintenance is easy! And on toy cars changes don’t happen very often.

        1. Zentropy Avatar

          True! But I still dread the task of changing them. Regardless with how much patience and preparation I begin, the job inevitably devolves into a fit of thrown tools, cathartic profanity, and bleeding hands.

          1. Manxman Avatar

            It’s those big stupid springs that can kill you and you never have the proper tool to get them off and on.

  17. neight428 Avatar

    I had a friend whose grandfather had two hubcaps stolen, but he happened to have another two wheel covers lying around that fit just fine, although they didn’t match. He managed by putting matching covers on the respective sides of the car with the passenger side different than the driver side. His logic was that since you could never see more than two wheels at the same time, it didn’t really matter. It was such a tidy solution that seems wrong, but I can’t help but like it.

  18. Hatchtopia Avatar

    I replaced the old distributor on the Prizm GSi – it had a not-insignificant amount of oil in it. Got the new one on, all lined up correctly, took it for a quick drive and found out that the moderate hesitation I had on acceleration had disappeared. Super stoked on that development until a friend and I were diagnosing a separate issue, adjusted the timing to factory spec and the hesitation returned. Apparently, I had installed the distributor off just enough to “fix” the problem. I’m pretty sure the hesitation is due to a malfunctioning knock sensor, which is going to be a pain to fix. I’m tempted to loosen the distributor and rotate it back to the “fixed” position.