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Redusernab Asks: What’s the dumbest way you’ve hurt a vehicle?

Jeff Glucker June 19, 2018 Redusernab Asks 24 Comments
 

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I love my SeaSucker bike mount. With it, I can bring my mountain bike along with me regardless of which car I happen to be driving in a given week. So far the mount is without fault. I cannot say the same about myself, however, as I just did something really dumb while using it.

After a morning ride this past weekend, I returned home ready to clean off the bike, put away the mount, and then head off for a Father’s Day lunch. The first step is removing the bike from the mount. When done correctly, you would start with the rear tire and then move to the front. I removed the through bolt for the front axle then went to the rear tire and stopped paying attention to the front end for some unknown moment. What happened next felt like it occurred in slow motion.

The bike, now free from the shackles of mounted oppression, decided to tumble dance away from me. And it did so down the side of the very lovely Lexus LC 500 you see picture above. My aggressive flat pedals bit into part of the roof rails while the rest of the bike added a few scratches into that previously perfect blue paint. My bike? It’s fine. The car? Well.. I feel pretty crappy about the whole thing.

It’s easily the dumbest incident I’ve had with a vehicle and I can’t stop thinking about how easily avoidable it was. So to help put my mind at (some level of) ease, let me know the sort of dumb incidents you’ve experience with a vehicle?

  • Jeff Glucker

    Here’s a look at the roof rail

    • outback_ute

      My sister (or her husband) forgot about the bikes on the roof before driving under a car port. Car was fine from memory, made a scratch on the guttering, but more than a scratch on the bikes…

      • Troggy

        My father did the same, surfboards though. Didn’t damage the car, but the boards definitely came off second best.
        I’ve started roof mounting the full-size spare when we go away on trips, so now I’m a likely candidate for a similar mishap if I ever forget it’s there.

  • P161911

    1992 Thunderbird S/C 5-speed circa 1997-1998. I got pulled over about 5 miles from home at a license and insurance check. Stone cold sober, had a valid license, car was insured, but I didn’t have the insurance card. Got pulled to the side while I rummaged through the car and my wallet to try to find the card. Finally call my folks for a copy of the card, maybe. No luck. Somewhere towards the end of this I get out of the car, don’t remember if it was in neutral or I just forgot to set the parking brake, but it managed to roll under a guardrail type gate. Huge dents and scratches in the hood. Best I remember insurance covered most of the damage.

    • outback_ute

      Surely an excessive way to show you had insurance?

  • onrails

    Ouch! I’ve got a SeaSucker too but I made my own hybrid version out of their “Hornet” kit for the handlebars and one more suction cup to strap the seat to so I don’t have to worry about taking the front wheel off and on. But even still I only ever put it on our ‘appliance’ car, the Volt. It’s been flawless but I can’t bring myself to put it on the SS just in case. I hope everything gets fixed!

  • 0A5599

    This wouldn’t have happened if you still had Hoontruck. Even if the bike scratched the bed, that’s why people use trucks to haul things.

    Didn’t happen to me but to someone I know. His seven year old kid climbs on his car in the driveway, getting up on the roof. The kid notices the roof “oil canning” when he moves. He jumped up and down more, then invited other neighborhood kids to jump on his “trampoline”.

    Lesson learned: cheaper to buy the kids a purpose-designed trampoline than to pay for roof repair at the body shop.

  • smalleyxb122

    The image below is from Google street view. It is of a curb between two adjacent parking lots. What you can’t tell is that the parking lot on the right is a couple of inches higher than the parking lot on the left. Similarly, when approaching from lot on the right, you can’t tell that the lot on the left is a couple of inches lower.

    Say you turned into the right (but wrong) lot. You want to be in the left parking lot. You have two (actually 3*) options. You can head back out to the street, and enter the correct lot, or you can drive over this 2 inch curb. I chose option 2. I learned of my mistake as the front wheels dropped off the taller side of the curb, and my frame rails came to a grinding halt against the concrete.

    * The third option, of course, is to just park in the wrong lot and walk next door.

    • neight428

      I’ve been saved from similar bad decisions by Big Dumb Truck. Big Dumb Truck almost encourages such things, though, so, you just get more spectacularly high centered.

    • Vairship

      Parking in the wrong lot and walking is un-American, sir! Hence the people at the mall that circle for 20 minutes to find that one parking space closest to the entrance…so that they can then go use the treadmill at 24 Hour Fitness.

  • Maymar

    Several years back, I worked on a detailing crew helping set up for several auto shows (along with working the floor once the shows were happening). In Vancouver, we did the detailing in the parking garage for the (then) GM place, and then drove across the road to BC Place for set up. I get in a Town & Country to bring it up – the tailgate notification flashes, but I don’t think anything of it, as it was closed. Turns out, as part of prep, one of my colleagues had already deactivated it (since the vehicle wouldn’t be powered on the show floor). Pulling over the little curb cutout (on the right in StreetView below) was enough to jostle the tailgate open – right into the max height bar, smashing the rear window.
    Thankfully, the company rep was able to source a replacement within a couple hours, and since it was a confluence of good intentions rather than gross irresponsibility, no one was too bothered.

  • danleym

    For starters, I restored my AMC Spirit in highschool, and I didn’t have a damn clue what I was doing with body work. So there’s a really shitty but at least we’ll hidden by paint fiberglass patch on the right c pillar (hatchback, so the c pillar is at about a 45 degree angle).

    Moving on 10 years, I own a house and the Spirit is in the garage. There are also a bunch of 2x6s in the rafters that the previous owner left there. The driveway got refinished, and somewhere with all of the vibrations one of those 2x6s fell off, directly into my shitty patch, destroying the patch work and damaging the metal around it. I’m calling it my fault because I’m the idiot who left all that junk lumber in the rafters above my car anyways.

  • outback_ute

    When washing a car, don’t use lifting the hood to push the wipers back down, take two steps to put them down by hand. That way you avoid scratching the trailing edge of the hood. Or so I’ve heard (rather loudly and repeatedly)

  • Sjalabais

    Ouch, awful situation giving the car back? I have done so many stupid things with cars, but the most visible was when I mangled my ’71 145 on a concrete wall, trying to turn right in an upward corner. I was really embarrassed, but, helpfully, there was a farmer nearby who could pull me off the concrete with his tractor. The damage also fast-tracked a classic “idiot’s restoration” of rust issues with rattle cans in the driveway:

    This really feels like a lifetime ago, but it’s really only eight years.

  • neight428

    I was only a supporting actor in this particular episode, but it was a pivotal part. Before their prices took off, my brother had a 1969 Bronco. One day he was driving and I was riding shotgun down a long straight stretch of country road at probably 70 mph, approaching a three way T intersection with a busier road, he lifts off the gas and tries to slow down, but the four drum brakes are doing even less than usual and the exhaust note doesn’t change. The throttle is stuck and we are closing in on the light ahead of us at a too slowly diminishing speed with a really big ditch or crossing traffic in our future if we don’t figure something out fast. My brother looks at me, relays his thoughts with a colorful adjective or two and I blurt out, “KILL THE IGNITION!”, with the only other thought springing to mind being to jam the transmission into park, which thankfully set off the spinny-rolly-crashy-burny alarm before I said that out loud.

    Without much time for consideration or debate, my brother killed the ignition. So, 3000 or so RPM’s of 302 are still pumping furiously with no spark, but plenty of fuel is flying in to hot cylinders/headers via the mechanical fuel pump and carb. This led to glorious backfiring that exploded the parts store “turbo” mufflers. On the positive side, the power stopped going to the wheels and the brakes regained their usual semi-effectiveness along with some engine braking in time to pull to a stop before the intersection and check our pants for contamination. It turned out that there was no wingnut atop the air cleaner stud and it had vibrated loose and fell through the carb into the intake to wedge the throttle blades open.

    So the dumb part was both of us futzing with the truck a hundred times and never bothering to put some kind of nut on that stud, but it was a lucky thought to unwittingly sacrifice the mufflers through the backfiring to get the thing hauled down. Could have ended much worse.

  • ptschett

    The evening I took delivery of my brand-new special-ordered 2017 Ram 1500 I decided it needed to spend the night in my apartment’s alleged 2-car garage, though it was getting dark outside by the time I got home with it, and there was plenty of room outside to park it for the night and figure out the garage strategy in the daylight. I was trying to park it backed into the garage like I did with its predecessor the 2005 Dodge Dakota, got slightly off my marks, and brought the corner of the box above the left taillight into with one of the brackets that holds the shelves that I’d installed to be above the Dakota’s tailgate, hard enough to scrape the paint down to the metal on a vehicle I’d owned for a couple hours and driven for maybe 5 miles.

  • ClockDivider

    I would crawl around in the rafters of my dad’s garage when I was little. There were a bunch of mahogany boards that made a nice floor. One time I ventured out of the floored area and knocked a small board down, onto the hood of my dad’s 1961 356B. This was around 1980, so values weren’t crazy yet, but it’s still about the most angry I ever made him.

  • Krautwursten

    Parked under some nasty tree stuff this spring and tried getting the residue off the car with all sorts of things, including in one spot on the roof using a kitchen sponge. Now I’ve got some swirly scratch marks in that spot, right above the driver’s door to serve as a reminder of my stupidity. Might get it buffed out with some polish or whatever, but I’m as clueless about polishing as I am clueless about cleaning. Also I’ve got some scratches on the rear bumper “shelf” from lifting my bicycle into or out of the hatch dozens of times and having the (plastic, but apparently still nasty) pedals scrape the bumper occasionally.

  • GTXcellent

    Summer of ’03, our first road trip with the MiSSus’ brand new Miata. We had stopped at Taliesen (kinda disappointing) and the car was looking downhill in the parking lot. I had stopped plenty short of the parking curb to make sure I didn’t hit it. When we were leaving, MiSSus GTXcellent said “please don’t hit that curb” – I looked at her and said “what?” just as I was taking my foot off the clutch and rolling down into said parking curb. Off course the front air dam scraped right over the top and I scratched the hell out of the bottom of the car. Oops, sorry dear.

  • Scubie

    Let me count the ways…
    1. Small box moving truck, moving myself between flats in the 90’s. Stopped at a petrol station for a drink. Put the truck in P for park… Did not apply the hand brake. Gearbox was faulty, truck rolled off and demo’ed the Diesel pump at the petrol station, and stuck a nice big dent front and centre of the truck cab. Eventually got off scott free when the rental company checked my story about the gear box.
    2. Then girlfriend bought a beater – a tiny little Daihatsu Charade from memory. A day later I reversed it out the driveway… or tried to with one of the back doors open, folding it the wrong way.
    3. Mountain biking here in Wellington, NZ a couple of years ago. Torrential rain as I was getting back into my Mitsi Pajero. Put my bike on the roof rack, but not properly. First it fell over, then one of the two wheel straps let go. Bike was hanging off the side of the roof, making amongst other things a nice cog shaped dent on the top of the C pillar…

  • JayP

    Oh, hell.
    I could jack up a car just looking at it wrong.
    Last weekend replacing rear pads on the Mustang, dropped the jack but hadn’t moved the stand far enough away from the car. A nice scratch in front of the rear wheel for my effort.

  • wunno sev

    the parking brake on my Volvo has never really worked, and i used to live in an apartment with a one-car garage and a pretty steep driveway. when my old Miata was in the garage, usually when it looked like rain since the top leaked, i would park the Volvo in the driveway. putting it in gear was just enough to mostly keep the car from moving. i’d park up, put it in first or reverse, then quickly walk to the back of the car and stuff a chock under the rear wheel. the car would click-click-click back against cylinder compression, and at one of those clicks it would hit the chock and that was that.

    well, one day i’m sitting in the driveway in neutral, foot on the brake, listening to some exciting interview with Terry Gross. i had developed the habit of holding the pedal with my right foot while stepping out with my left, to maximize the time i had to reach the rear wheel. as soon as i lifted my right foot off the pedal, it was immediately apparent that i’d left the car in neutral.

    what happened next was amazing because of how fast my mind worked. “can i catch this on the a-pillar?” i thought to myself. “no, it weighs a ton and a half. better not try. i’d also better move out of the way of this door.” stepped aside a quarter second after leaving the car so the door didn’t mow me down. i then thought of what would happen when the car got to the bottom of the roughly car-length driveway: it would roll across the two car-width street in my shitty apartment complex, hit the curb, and go flying. i thought it prudent to close the door, so that when the car bounced off the curb, it wouldn’t be all cantilevered out.

    the mind works in a hurry when it’s in such a situation. all of these thoughts and actions happened in the time it took the front door alone to roll past me, which, at that angle, with the car in neutral, can’t have been more than three-quarters of a second. it did exactly as i thought, bouncing up off the curb at the back wheels and high-centering on its midsection after coming down. after carefully extracting it to minimize further damage, i found that the exhaust was damaged, the floor pans were dented up, and my ego was utterly destroyed.

    i drove around with the broken exhaust for a year, i guess to punish myself for being such a dumbass. a sensible person would have sold the car. i pulled the carpets, banged out the floor pans with a sledgehammer and dowel, painted the undercarriage, and still have the car. every time something goes wrong with it, i think to myself, “i wonder if this is related to that time i crashed it.”

    and the parking brake still doesn’t work. i’ve changed the cables, pads, and rotors – literally every piece in that system – and it just doesn’t fucking work, and it never will. if i don’t have a curb i can point my wheel towards, i just don’t park on inclines.

  • Zentropy

    I’ve been surprisingly easy on my vehicles, though I did repeatedly tear through several manual transmissions (designed for 4- and 6-cylinder applications) after dropping a 360 V8 into my AMC Spirit back in college. The sound of sheared teeth rattling around in the gearbox was like nails on a chalkboard.

  • A few years ago, on a snowy day, my daughter slid her Escort into Tacoma pickup. The truck was fine, but her car was not drivable aside from pulling it into the abandoned gas station on the corner, primarily because of the bumper cover hanging off the front.

    I picked her up and took her to the church event she was headed to. On the way home I decided to stop by and assess the damage to her car and how I’ll get it home . I cut the corner into the gas station pulling in and came upon a nasty surprise. Under the snow in what appeared to be a wide expanse of pavement was a 3′ square concrete island at least 6″ tall. I hit it square on, ripping the bottom of the bumper, the bottom of the molded plastic core support and the bottom of the radiator out of my Mazda3. I also high centered it on the island. So there I sit with two wrecked cars in a snow storm with no way home.

    Since the Mazda was now clearly not drivable, I assessed the Escort and found that it was mechanically sound, but had no headlights or turn signals and that pesky dangling bumper cover. So, I ripped it off and stuffed the pieces in the trunk and headed home, less than 10 miles. I then filed a claim on the Mazda, which still had full coverage at the time.

    I think the damage to the Mazda was close to $3K and the insurance company came close to totalling it. I put the Escort back together with junkyard parts and we had it for a few more years. That same daughter now drives the Mazda3.

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