Corner wrench: Repairs you shouldn’t try on the side of the road

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Automotive technicians see it every day: a vehicle being driven for repairs with some type of baling twine and duct tape that some hobbyist thought was good enough to take to the shop. The methods used are common enough to fall into certain categories of hold-my-beer. If you’re going to share public roads with innocent people, leave those fixes in the toolbox and call a tow truck.

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These are great tools, now available in a wide variety of types, from small miniature needle-nose pliers to monstrous-sized hand vises. But for all their usefulness, they should never be used to hold tie rod ends, control arms, exhaust pipes, or just about any functional component together on any vehicle. Using them may be enough to get a vehicle from the parking lot to the store, but never to drive on public roads, no matter how careful and cautious. Their release mechanisms can open without warning, possibly leaving you to rush through oncoming traffic. One of the most common uses of the numbskull is to block a brake fluid line to a leaking cylinder or caliper, which uses the “can’t leak if there’s no fluid” philosophy. During an emergency stop, driving a vehicle with a blocked fluid supply to a brake unit, the probability of keeping it under control is zero. Call a tow truck.

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Mechanic’s Wire Doesn’t Mean You’re A Mechanic

The second most common hack repair is the thin black wire known as a mechanic’s wire. It might be okay to temporarily hold a small exhaust pipe in place for a short drive to the store, but that’s about the end of its usefulness. It won’t support much weight or vibration, and you can do a lot more damage when something you thought was secure breaks under the vehicle while it’s in motion.

Zip ties to the rescue!

It’s no fun dealing with flimsy, flimsy plastic body parts and trim, especially in the freezing cold of winter. But fixing loose exterior panels with zip ties or another type of homemade fastener can make matters worse. Most aficionados of temporary repairs forget the effects of the force of the wind on poorly glued broken panels. And when they do inevitably come loose, Murphy’s Law dictates that it’ll be on the highway at 60 mph with a luxurious Euro-exotic following in the debris zone. Properly repair it, replace it, or remove it.

They make wooden cars, don’t they?

In fact, only a few handcrafted Morgans still leave the factory with wooden components, but they were designed and manufactured to utilize nature’s building blocks. For everything else, leave the wood in the forest. We’ve seen wooden blocks used to support collapsed or broken coil springs, attached to rusted frame rails for a hopeless type of support, or as a replacement for a missing motor mount. If it rolls on public roads, have it serviced properly.

About Dwight E. McCray

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