"Never again" jobs - DP
What is the worst job you have ever done on a car? By that I mean either the most difficult in itself, or where the most has gone wrong / held you up.

This is prompted by my ENTIRE weekend spent changing the cambelt, fuel pump belt and water pump on the Mondeo. I wasn't expecting this to take an hour, but neither did I expect the 14 that it did take!! Problems encountered:

Seized air-con belt tensioner. Still seized - after unsuccessful use of Plus Gas, had to remove the belt by taking the crank pulley off. Made refitting interesting as well as said crank pulley is a double item also driving the alternator belt. The alternator belt has to go on first. A juggling act like no other, but it's done and it works for now. Replacement tensioner required, but that's a job for another day!
Went to drain the cooling system down only to discover that the aftermarket rad the car is fitted with has no drain plug. Spent over an hour trying to get the bottom hose off (those stupid cheap spring loaded hose clips) removing most of the skin from my knuckles in the process before giving up and using the block drain plug instead.
Over torqued cam pulley made things touch and go with my home made pulley holding tool (cowboy workmanship which is evident all over this car).
No 1 glow plug was not only seized in, but located in such a way in relation to the injection pump and its plumbing that it was an eigth of a turn a time job to both remove and refit it.
Blanking plug for crank timing pin hole fell out of the socket when I removed it and fell down between the air-con pump bracket and the side of the block. Had to remove and carefully support the air-con pump while removing the mounting bracket to get the plug back.
Water pump gasket came off the block only after much careful scraping, and then in hundreds of tiny, well baked pieces.
The lower cover on the cambelt refused to "snap in" to the upper cover. You wouldn't believe how much time I lost here.
The mother of all air-locks was present in the fuel system when re-starting. I have bled the fuel system on this car several times, and this is the one and only time it has decided to soak me and most of the engine bay in diesel when I eased the filter outlet pipe off. At this point I started shouting and swearing at the car believing it to be personal. That's when you know you've really had enough! ;-)

Anyhow the car is now back together, running and all is well, but what an oddyssey! I have no urge to ever tackle this job again, which for someone who normally enjoys working on cars is quite unusual.

That said, it did confirm a couple of things I suspected. The seller of the car (a local-ish dealer) hadn't replaced the tensioners when they did the belt (QH belts, Ford tensioners), the water pump was slightly leaking, and the horrible chattering noise of late on idle was clearly linked to this somewhere 'cos now it's gone.

Good end result, nightmare getting there!

Anyone else had a "never again" job?


"Never again" jobs - bathtub tom
Clutch change on Austin Princess/Ambassador, without taking the engine out.
It can be done by disconnecting everything, and hanging engine/gearbox by ropes from 4x2 across front wings!
There's a big nut on the (I think) gearbox input shaft that has to come off. Nothing shifts it. There's just enough space for a mini hacksaw.
One week later I'm looking at the impression of said 4x2 in top of front wings.
"Never again" jobs - Craig_1969
Thanks for the advice, I think I will wait until the cam belt in my Mondeo TD snaps and scrap it. The gear linkage wore through a power steering pipe and its of course only available as part of the steering rack. And all the ones I could find in the breakers were badly worn too.
"Never again" jobs - DP
If yours doesn't have air-con it won't take anything like as long.

The tensioner caused no end of delays.
The extra plumbing makes removing and refitting the lower covers ten times as awkward.
The compressor is directly in front of the timing pin hole (cracking piece of design) and putting a hole in the bracket but not making the bracket mount flush to the block gives plenty of scope for plug droppage. With hindsight, I would have stuffed some rag in there to stop the plug dropping right down.

All things considered though, it's still a crap job. Changing the belts and tensioners only took half an hour, including following Ford's seemingly anal pre-tensioning, checking, tensioning, rechecking, rechecking again procedure to the letter. It's the stripping down and reassembly around it that is scarcely believable.

"Never again" jobs - mike hannon
You used the present tense in the last sentence. Does that mean you actually own an Austin Ambassador?
"Never again" jobs - bathtub tom
No, but I found a perfectly servicable exhaust downpipe in the shed the other day off a 1700cc 'O' series. Gratis to anyone who cares to collect it. I wonder if the wedge owners club is still going?
"Never again" jobs - mike hannon
I saw a tidy Princess in a field in front of a country garage near Toulouse a couple of years ago.
I used to have an 1800, then a 2000. Didn't stop and go back though...
"Never again" jobs - Collos25
Correct decision
"Never again" jobs - Lud
Lost count of them. Changing a Lada clutch just round the corner some years ago, lying with head in gutter and feet in carriageway, for example, taking out gearbox and lining the plate and flywheel splined holes up by eye with my head in the gearbox space. Changing Skoda cylinder head (for a warped one!) in a wet, freezing barn three or four winters ago... I think that was the one that cured me, even more than changing the rear wheel bearings of the Arna. All out of doors. Must have shortened my life.
"Never again" jobs - Glaikit Wee Scunner {P}
Recently, 3 1/2 hours to upgrade 4 headlight bulbs in my Passat. The scars have almost healed.

For timewasting, many years ago - changing a coolant bypass hose on a Mini - where the head had to come off first!
I wasna fu but just had plenty.
"Never again" jobs - wemyss
You could buy convoluted ones Glaikit which could be squeezed in without removing the head.
Only a five minute job.....
"Never again" jobs - NARU
My contender for the worst job has to be ... stag engine rebuild. The heads are held on with dowels which aren't parallel, so the dowels have to come out before the heads will come off. But they're always seized in place.

The job which I most remember was a really simple one - changing a thermo-coupled fan on a mk5 cortina - at 6am on the morning of my wedding (because we needed it for the honeymoon).
"Never again" jobs - DP
Some good stuff here!

The thermo coupled fan on the Cortina - was this on a left hand thread like on the Sierra? Guess who didn't realise this until he'd wrecked the water pump bearings trying to remove it?

Another one of my classic maintenance memories.

"Never again" jobs - Craig_1969
Of course mine has aircon! Aggh.
"Never again" jobs - Aretas
In 1970 I bought an Elan as a kit.
Very simple to build but the kit car rules (saving of purchase tax) did not allow issuing of instructions.
Therefore it is only when you have the engine installed that you find out that it is impossible to then fit the exhaust manifold.
"Never again" jobs - Bill Payer
Very simple to build but the kit car rules (saving of
purchase tax) did not allow issuing of instructions.

If only the Internet had been invented in 1970!
"Never again" jobs - SjB {P}
Having last night watched the Top Gear repeat of the race to build a Caterham 7, instructions of benefit implies the desire to read and abide by them. I'm fairly sure there was a hefty dose of acting up to make entertaining TV, but none the less I think Jeremy Clarkson would have been dispatched to tea making duties if I'd been around!

Enjoyed watching Michael Gambon again, again. Most entertaining.
"Never again" jobs - blue_haddock
Peugeot 306 heater matrix - book time is 10 hours. Pretty much a full on dash out jib.

Not something i'm keen to do again in a hurry.
"Never again" jobs - henry k
The job which I most remember was a really simple one - changing a thermo-coupled fan on a mk5 cortina - at 6am on the morning ......

Many years ago I had my waterpump go on my Cortina. It was a Bank Holiday Monday and I was 50 miles from home near Worthing but at the inlaws.
I needed to be home the next morning so nn phone calls to find somewhere open that had a pump and a friendly neighbour to taxi me .
I discovered, contrary to Haynes, that instead of using the special thin cranked Sykes Pickavant 32mm water pump spanner, a small King Dick and an awful lot of tiny movement would do it.
Well pleased with my efforts.

Haynes susequently amended the instructions to say the job "could " be done without said spanner.

The next time I bought said spanner (which also fits BMWs.)

It is currently available for a small donation!
"Never again" jobs - mike hannon
And the trouble with a Stag engine rebuild, of course, is that it's all such a waste of time...
"Never again" jobs - spikeyhead {p}
I''ve had a few nightmare jobs, probably the worst was changing the gearbox on a mk1 escort, outside when it was snowing.

As far as the cambelt on a mondeo goes, I asked my loccal mechanic to do mine and he jsut replied that his son does those. I watched him do two, one with air con and mine wothout. Total time for the pair, two and a half hours. It was a joy to watch.
I read often, only post occasionally
"Never again" jobs - Bill Payer
As far as the cambelt on a mondeo goes, I asked
my loccal mechanic to do mine and he jsut replied that
his son does those. I watched him do two, one with
air con and mine wothout. Total time for the pair, two
and a half hours. It was a joy to watch.

I'm sure that makes DP feel better!
"Never again" jobs - DP
Total time for the pair, two
and a half hours. It was a joy to watch.

What an absolute git!! ;-)

Were either of these diesels as well?
"Never again" jobs - spikeyhead {p}
they were both deisels.

Next time you need the job doing contact me through the mods here, I'm sure you'd prefer shelling out £60 for labour then spend another entire weekend scraping your knuckles.
I read often, only post occasionally
"Never again" jobs - Big John
Replacing a clutch on a MKIV Zodiac!. Gearbox looked like the one on a Cortina MKII (my previous clutch change). It was only when I was in the middle of my usual perch the gearbox on my knees whilst withdrawing the gearbox I suddenly discovered it weighed more than Australia.
Fortunately I have since managed to father a son but my voice is a little higher than it used to be, ouch!

The other job I hated was setting up the rear disk handbrake to pass an MOT on the same car.

Used to love watch petrol attendants looking for the fuel filler (pull down numberplate), you had to make sure the engine was turned off to stop gaining on them!!!
"Never again" jobs - Clanger
Removing the starter motor and freeing off the siezed Bendix in a 1974 Triumph Toledo. Simple enough you might think but I did this on the car deck of a cross-channel ferry in a heavy sea in 1978. I remember the distracting noises of the arctics straining against their chains and other indescribable spooky noises. Wouldn't be allowed nowadays. Another honeymoon debacle not helped by the knowledge that the new Mrs H had refused to drive my perfectly serviceable Renault 16TX in France because it had column change gears.
Stranger in a strange land
"Never again" jobs - glowplug
I can't say it's a never again job but the recent clutch replacement on the 405 TD took some doing, strut off, subframe, etc. Stripped it down over several days then put it back together in about 4 hours. I also did the nearside steering rack gaiter whilst the gearbox was off. Changing the cambelt, waterpump, tensioner, aux belt tensioner was also a long job, about 10-12 hours, but then I'm a steady worker when there's an engine a stake and I did have to make and modifiy some tools.

Xantia HDi.

Buy a Citroen and get to know the local GSF staff better...
"Never again" jobs - cheddar
The Mk I Clio 1.4 had a short metal pipe between the inlet manifold and the block, it could corrode, it was a pain to change, not so much a long job as rather involved for a seemingly insignificant 2" long section of pipe, also there were two specs which required buying both and taking the wrong one back to the dealer.
"Never again" jobs - Big Bad Dave
Putting air in the tyres

Finding a station with an air bay that someone isn't using as an all-day parking space. Unscrewing those little caps, dragging the hose all over the paintwork, remembering to screw the caps back on. Wiping black fingers down clean white t-shirt.

Never again.
"Never again" jobs - Dynamic Dave
Unscrewing those little caps,
remembering to screw the caps back on. Wiping black fingers down clean white t-shirt.

Don't have that problem with Vauxhalls. They have a little valve cap removal tool stored behind the filler cap that saves you getting your pinkies covered in brake dust ;o)
"Never again" jobs - Big Bad Dave
"a little valve cap removal tool"

No way! Like a cigarette holder?

I forgot - trying to do the fourth tyre before the money runs out
"Never again" jobs - Lud
I forgot - trying to do the fourth tyre before the
money runs out

You didn't mention trying to use an airline fitting that some baboon has twisted into the shape of a pretzel, or applying the fitting to yr tyre and simply letting a lot of air out of it because some essential part of the wand has been removed... Then you have to find another airline with one half-deflated tyre.

The sooner they give us solid tyres the better.
"Never again" jobs - Martin Devon
>> The sooner they give us solid tyres the better.

No. The sooner they bring back the birch for Morons the better! Why oh! why do people throw down the air regulator? WHY? Answer me someone...NOW.

"Never again" jobs - Dynamic Dave
No way! Like a cigarette holder?


"Never again" jobs - sierraman
{ I remember the distracting noises of the arctics straining against their chains and other indescribable spooky noises. }

An ice bound continent would weigh a bit I suppose.

Anything on a 2CV is pretty bad,even the points require removal of grille and cooling fan,only a 14 mm box spanner being slim enough to engage the latters securing nut.
"Never again" jobs - Cardew
I have never had the skills or ambition to tackle serious jobs. I know without a shadow of a doubt that the most minor task will escalate to a major overhaul.

So these days I listen to Flanders and Swann reciting "It was on a Monday morning the gasman came to call" and take it to a garage.
"Never again" jobs - madf
Washng the wife's car.
She does not care whether clean or dirty as long as it runs.
"Never again" jobs - apm
Engine swap on a mini 1000. Went ok, but two things to remember:

1) Don't forget to renew the valve stem seals. Unless you like looking like a red arrow & burning as much oil as petrol.

2) Check the condition of the rest of the car before embarking- ie make sure that there isn't so little good metal in the floor that it looks like an almost opened sardine can.

Live and learn... in my defence, I was only 22!


Dr Alex Mears
MG BGT 1971
If you are in a hole stop digging...unless
you are a miner.
"Never again" jobs - The Gingerous One
Ditto here, putting a metro 1300 engine & box into a Mini (Clubman, wow, all that extra working space)

mate had got new engine mounts for it and they were an absolute pig to line up, I was jumping up and down on the engine late at night trying to get them to line up. A guy who shared the house with them went to work at 4pm at some local pizza place, did his shift and we were still going this engine swap at after midnight when he returned.

Also swapping a metro rear subframe from one that was totally broken and had been bodged for the MoT to one from my 'spare' metro that was ok but riddled with rust. Of course this meant removing BOTH subframes and reattaching them both (loosely in the case of the car that was going to be scrapped). Spent all w/e on the job, then the neighbours complained because the drive looked like a scrapyard, so had to take the monday afternoon off work to finish the job & appease (slightly) the neighbours.

then the metro with it's better sub frame kept breaking down, ign switch failed due to relay being removed & replaced by a bit of wire, the rad sprinking a leak (but cos I was away home had to get another rad despite having a good one on other metro) then electronic ign module failed, then the starter and finally something else so I scrapped it at that point. I wouldn't have wished that car on anyone.
Still, I did give the spare wheel from it to another mate and when he had to use it discovered that after 10 miles driving down the M3 that it was a remould and the tread was coming away from the tyre......

So I spent all w/e & half of Monday doing the subframe (seem to recall a bracket needed replacing as well so had to get that from Rover dealer) and 3 months later the car was scrapped.
I did also learn the lesson (the hard way) never buy a car thats had more owners than you've had hot dinners, I think it had 12 recorded owners in 10 years.

no regrets about not motoring on shoestring now, would never have the time to do that nowadays.

"Never again" jobs - nick62
Once put the distributor drive gear 180 degrees out of time on a rebuilt "A" series BMC engine in my...............wait for it...........Allegro.........(arrgh, the embarassment).

Spend all Sunday re-fitting the engine to the car, about 8 p.m. tried to start it..........not firing. Realised the mistake, so tried to get around it by swapping the plug leads around..........but one wasn't long enough. So I removed the distributor and removed the drive gear with a spare 9/16" bolt, (it had an internal thread to allow this). Whilst re-fitting the gear, it dropped off the bolt and into the sump....................I clearly remember nearly coming to tears as on this engine the gearbox is where the sump should be.

The next day I removed the engine from the car and managed to extract the gear by removing the diff.

That car used a gallon of oil every week. I eventually sold it for scrap, but not before removing the fuel tank (which I'd only brought 12 months earlier).

I got £20 scrap for the car (minus the tank), £25 for the fuel tank and about £20 back on the tax disc.

The next week I got a phone call.................have you still got that Allegro fuel tank!!!!!!!!!!!! The scrapmen had actually sold the car.

I saw it running about for several months after that...........incredible!
"Never again" jobs - M.M
Rear handbrake pads on a 1964 Jaguar S-Type. In theory you are supposed to drop the whole rear axle and suspension from the car to set them up properly!

The lead lamp is too big to reach what you need to see, your hands are to big to reach things you need to undo and all your tools are too big to fit in the space... but of course hours of knuckle bleeding agony always looks preferable to dropping that drivetrain assy off!!


"Never again" jobs - The Gingerous One
I used to have to replace the piston rings on my Allegro every 20,000 miles or so. So did 2 engine rebuilds in 3 years/45,000 miles.
Friday night was remove all ancilleries, Sat morning lift engine out & split the unit, then get the block on the bench and remove pistons etc. If things were going well and not too much beer on Fri night could get the thing running by the end of play Saturday (and still go out for more beer).

I did once put too many spacers on the idler gear, so when I re-assembled it all the idler gear was digging into the clutch housing and was horrifically out of line compared to the primary gear and gearbox input gear. It seemed ok, until I took it for a drive and the noise was incredible. but managed to correct my error without taking the engine out again, had to go and get a new clutch housing and new matching set of gears from a scrapper, and took a note of how the spacers went on (you can get the clutch housing off without removing the engine, contrary to what Mr Haynes said).

but whilst it was a tedious and long job (purely due to my own lack of attention as to what was going on), it was still nowehere near as bad as that chuffing Metro subframe saga.

anyway, the bad old days. now we can do those things because we want to, rather than because we have to.....

"Never again" jobs - mrmender
Steering thingy in the front of the chassis on a series 3 landrover. Looks simple enough. I almost contemplated renewing the chassis, as it would not come out. heated the chassis cherry red then with the aid of a 5 ton jack, got to shift i
"Never again" jobs - Lud
There you are at last mm... surely worse things than that must have happened to you when welding for example (although annealing an LR chassis must have involved a bit of stress!)?

Have you started yr new job yet?
"Never again" jobs - mrmender
Samali kum Lud yes just posted a update to my previous thread have a look. Settling in nicely ta
"Never again" jobs - cheddar
Exhaust manifold on a Dolomite Sprint.
"Never again" jobs - Hugo {P}
Brake pads on the Fiat Regata.

The pads went on OK but I managed to cross thread the wheel nuts!

I eventually got out of that one by actually recutting the threads (using a vice and a hacksaw) on the 4 bad wheelnuts that I had wrecked and swapping the nuts around, after marking them so that I had only one bad nut on each wheel. I then swapped them for some decent ones from a scrap yard. I actually got extra and carried them around with me inside the spare after that!

Ignition barrel on a Talbot Horizon.

I lost the keys to my Gfs Talbot Horizon, so I had to sort this out. Replacing the locks in the doors was easy but the ignition barrel had to be drilled out! So much swarf! Fortunately I knew of another being scrapped locally.

"Never again" jobs - Steptoe
Overhauling the inboard rear calipers on a Rover P6, a difficult enough job in itself, but it was due to a MOT fail in December so I spent most of that Christmas holiday under the car in a freezing garage. (this was before global warming had been invented)

This experience traumatised me sufficiently so that since that time I have ensured that all Mots fall due in the Summer months.


One mans junk is another mans treasure
"Never again" jobs - Big John
Rover P6, same rear brake calipers as the Ford Zodiac MKIV , horrible!!! Even worse on the Rover as they are inboard.

Ask Honest John

Value my car