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Quirks and unusual behaviors of vehicles


Guest prs519

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I thought this topic might be fun. I was thinking about the post "what car

did I drive to high school?", and recalled the 1940 Ford I drove in 70-72. Winters were definately colder then, and when the starting got tough in 30 below weather, I could see folks up and down our small suburb in Montpelier, Idaho, pushing their newer cars out of their garages, in order to jump start them with a running vehicle. I would go out to my old 40 Ford 4 door and say a sort of a prayer or a swear, depending on the mood I sensed my friend was in (the 40). I think the battery was someone elses castaway from long ago, and all it would do is make, honestly, one dejected fast-fading groan. But ...ughhh...chucka chucka chuka if you listened close you could hear it running! My father also had a TD 6 international cat with rotted muffler (coming out the hood), It blew perfect spinning elegant smoke rings of about

4 inch diameter! One after another! How bout it, guys, I will bet there are some dandy stories that might die with you if you don't tell em? Perry in Idaho

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Guest bofusmosby

My first car was a 1968 Cougar. I loved that car! However, it was the most undependable car I ever owned. Constant break-downs. This was the kind of car that when driving and hitting a bump, you had to look out your rear-view mirror to see what parts fell off the car. It seems that every time it rained quite a bit and there was water standing, when I would drive through it, the muffler would fall off. I would tighten that thing down, and the garage I took it to would tighten it down, and yet, it would still fall off. I remember many times having to crawl under the car in standing water to re-attach it! It would actuall seperate at the front of the mufflet, and if I didn't stop, it would tear the entire exaust system off. This acr would also eat power-steering hoses as well. It was a real pain to install, and EVERY garage that installed one (many different mechanics) complained about how much of a pain it was.

I wish I still had that car today. OH, did I mention that the car also ate engines? I always changed the oil, never hot-rodded, but it still ate 3 engines. Also 2 transmissions.

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Guest Jim_Edwards

My first car, a '47 Ford Deluxe Coupe, would periodically just decide it didn't want to start, and wouldn't regardless of how many times I tried. One morning running a bit late to get to school in total frustration I got out and gave the front bumper a swift kick, got back in it and it started immediately. Next time it pulled that nonsense, I did the same and it started immediately afterward. Went through a couple of years of that exercise and never did find the reason for its "crankiness" or why kicking the front bumper would have any effect on anything. I think the darn thing was haunted...:)

Jim

Edited by Peter J.Heizmann (see edit history)
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A friend in High school had a 49 Pontiac with an automatic. To back up. he would start it, set the emergancy brake, put it in reverse, go gather his things up for about 5 minutes, then get in the car , release the brake, and then it would back up.

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My first new car was a '72 Gran Torino. Despite several sets of plug wires, distributor caps and waterproofing agents, it would not start first thing in the morning if it was snowed on. I had to get my mother's hair dryer out and run it on the distributor cap first. Once it started for the day, it was okay. Also, when driving in snow, with the distributor on the front of the engine, snow would come through the grille and build up on the hood insulation right over the distributor. Heat from the engine would melt the snow and the resulting water would drip on the distributor, cutting out the engine, mostly in places you didn't want to be.

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My mom and dad had an early sixties Valiant. It didn't like rain....at all.

Everytime it rained the distributor cap got wet, Dad would have to get out, take the cap off, dry it with a rag and then drive as far as he could and repeat the process.

We traveled at night when going south to Myrtle Beach from here, or coming back home, because Mom would get a migraine headache if we drove that long in the full heat of the day.

I will never forget one trip home when it was POURING the rain :eek: as we were trying to get back home. It was dark, we were in some small town in S.C., poor Dad standing in front of the car, Mom holding a regular size umbrella over them and Dad had to keep going through the process to not get very far. And then have repeat many times until the rain quit.

That car was quickly replaced with a wonderful, beautiful 1965 Dodge Dart GT. that is the car I want back. :)

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At one time I was the proud owner of a 1976 Ford Pinto. You heard it right, a Ford Pinto! At any rate about a decade after I drove her out of the dealership, I was out driving on rain soaked roads after a storm. I hit a puddle and go hear the water hitting on the underside of the floor pan. It literally sounded like a buzz saw. The next thing I knew there was a spout of water that came up between my legs, hit the headliner and got me soaking wet!

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Guest Skip Jordan

There are endless stories about my four Alfas, notably door handles and turn signal stalks made of pot metal that could easily crack and snap (and horrible Marelli wiring that could self-immolate). The worst part, though (particularly in '59 Giulietta Spider and '66 GT Sprint) was the fact that the spark plugs were mounted vertically in a recess between the cams. Puddles and rainwater could settle in the recess and foul the plugs. Always carried towels with me as a result.

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When I was a kid, I was given a VW bus that had been sitting for almost a year. It was in reasonable condition but I discovered it was sitting because it had a blown engine. I rebuilt the engine and it ran fine until I tried to drive on the highway. On almost any highway trip the engine would go dead after driving for a while at 50 mph. I would roll off on the road and engine would crank over normally but wouldn't start. I would let it sit for a while and after it cooled down, it would start up again and off we would go. Trouble shooting the problem I eliminated vapor lock, the fuel pump was ok, I changed the coil, checked the plugs and points all to no avail. In a last ditch effort to solve the problem I replaced the condenser. I didn’t think it would solve the problem but it was the only thing left; I knew condensers failed but I thought they usually they just burned the points. Well it fixed the problem and the engine in the bus never shut down again. When the engine got hot at highway speeds, the condenser got hot enough that it would short out to ground killing the spark. When it cooled off, the short was broken. I finally sold it years later and it was still running good.

Edited by Steve29 (see edit history)
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First new car we ever bought was a 1968 VW Bug. It was not a very reliable car. After 50k miles or so the trans would no longer stay in 4th gear. Being young and newly married we couldn't afford to have it repaired and had no knowledge or tools to repair it myself. Soooooo.....cut a rubber strip from an inner tube. Wrap one end around the seat frame, adjust the length and presto! When in 4th gear simply slip the rubber loop over the gear shift to hold her in gear. After a while it became second nature to flip that rubber loop on and off the lever. Drove it that way for over a year.

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The worst car mechanically that I ever owned was a 1968 Fairlane 500 Fastback! I bought it new in January of 1968 and when I went to pick it up after dealer prep, it literally took my breath away. From the rear it looked like a spaceship with it's huge fastback window, and the midnite blue metallic paint...fantastic.

A week later, I couldn't even get in the car because the doors were frozen shut! It took a mechanic half a day to get them open. Finally after breaking 2 keys off in the lock, I resorted to throwing hot water up against the side window all winter! This problem persisted until I sold the car.

Next came a severe loss of power! I couldn't even make the hills with it floored! Even tune ups and carb rebuilding didn't help!I was actually afraid to have compression checked because I didn't have the money to replace the motor! And no it wasn't a six!

The front end was so cheesy that it wore out a set of tires at 10k miles. It couldn't hold alignment and drifted all over the place even after having been aligned at several different shops!

Needless to say, it was the last Ford I owned!

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hi, i had a 62 hillman minx back in 1973, paid $99.00 for it, one day, while driving north thru santa monica and malibu on pacific coast highway 1, the harmonic balancer came off the belt and crankshaft, falling down to the road. i didn't know what happen, but heard the noise. pulled over and looked under the hood, saw what was missing, walked back down the highway just a short distance, found the pulley/harmonic balancer undamaged with the big bolt still in the hole. took it back to the car. the head of the bolt was made so that large tool like a tire iron could be used to tighten it down. i put the gearbox in a gear, pull the parking brake on, slip the v belt on the pulley, slid the harmonic balancer onto the snout of the crank, used the tire iron to tighten the bolt real hard, got in and drove the car away. it never came off again. charles coker, 1953 pontiac tech advisor.

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I was in college in 1976 when my dad asked me what kind of 4 door compact he should buy. Based on the good reputation of the Dart/Valiant, I suggested he get a new Aspen or Volare. A week later there was a green Aspen in the driveway.

The first problem he had was that 3 times in the first 2 months the rear end would seize up for no reason. It did it twice in parking lots at low speed, where nothing really bad happened. Then it did it at 35 mph, skidding to a stop 18 inches from a phone pole. (He was so mad he got out and measured!) The rear end was never really fixed, but it stopped locking up after that. From then on a set of rear tires would last 1/4-1/3 as long as a set of front tires, and the car never once broke 14 mpg.

Then at it's first PA state inspection, when it was 9 months old, it failed because of rust perforation in both front fenders and the hood. A year and a half later the car was recalled for this problem, but at that time my dad had to fight with Chrysler to get 2 new fenders and a new hood. Sadly he had to mount them and paint them, and since payments on a new car were killing the family finances the car went to Earl Sheib. From that point on we owned a brand new Dodge with a $99 semi-gloss forest green metallic paint job. Fabulous.

We dumped that car after 3 years (at the very first opportunity).

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Hi Charles, long time.

In my yout I had a succession of Jags which were cheap where I lived. Still can't keep my eyes off the oil pressure even on new cars.

Remember keeping a hammer handle by the seat and if the ammeter didn't start flicking when the key was turned on I'd open the door, reach under, and rap on the conveniently located SU fuel pump until it started ticking.

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I recall another quirk; I had this 66 Ford F100 shorty with a 240 six, and I was quite fond of the under powered little truck, well not little by today's standards. I always figured it was too underpowered to blow oil past the rings, ho, it had that many miles on it! Anyway, and I swear this is true -- that truck would idle in time with music by the Rolling Stones. This was in the 1970s. swear I heard it change its beats (all the little noises) to keep time whenever I put a Stone's tape in the 8 track!

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Showing that the adage is once again quite true..."necessity was the mother of invention". Those who have never jerryrigged, have never been short of cash...hmmm.

. Soooooo.....cut a rubber strip from an inner tube. Wrap one end around the seat frame, adjust the length and presto! When in 4th gear simply slip the rubber loop over the gear shift to hold her in gear. After a while it became second nature to flip that rubber loop on and off the lever. Drove it that way for over a year.

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I found a 62 Lincoln convertible for my mother to buy in about 66. It had some gremlins in the relays, solenoids and limit switches in the top mechanism. If you had the top down when it started raining and you stopped to put it up,the trunklid opened then the flipper and then nothing. Try as you might it progressed no further and you ended up driving down the road with the trunk fully upright looking like a sailboat. For those who aren't familiar with these cars,the top folds into the trunk and the trunklid closes over it,like the retractables. We finally got it fixed and didn't drop top anymore for a while. we got brave and tried again with the same result. that was it for the lincoln. We took a bath on that one,literally and figuratively.

Edited by Dave Mellor NJ
spelling error (see edit history)
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Guest 4buick7

In 1959 while a college student, I bought my dream car, a 1955 Austin Healey 100. It turned out to be like a beautiful woman; great to look at but high maintenance! If you drove through a small puddle of water, you suddenly were without any electrical power. You had to dry out the coil to get moving. The muffler was about 4 inches above the road so you never left home without baling wire. A supply of cotter pins was a necessity to reattach the clutch linkage when the clutch pedal would suddenly drop to the floorboard and you had no clutch.

The most memorable experience was driving one night from Phoenix to L.A. and the electric fuel pump started to cut out. The fuel pump is located under the car just behind and between the bucket seats. You access the pump by opening a trap door just above the fuel pump. Luckily, I had a friend riding with me who would tap the fuel pump when it sputtered with the tire iron. It was real sporting to lose power just as you pulled out to pass another car. I would start yelling and he would start tapping like crazy. This worked for about 250 miles. When it finally stopped for good the tapping had broken the case clear off. We spent the rest of the night in the desert and pushed the car by hand to Indio. The parts house called a British car facility in Palm Springs who had to order the part from San Francisco. We left the car and hitch- hiked to L.A. The part arrived a few days later and we got a ride to Indio and installed the new pump.

There were other interesting Healey events but these I remember most vividly.

I also had an experience similar to Restorer32. At the time I had the Healey, I was a fireman at night while attending college. One of the fire trucks was a 1948 International tanker. It would not stay in 4th gear unless you literally held it in gear with your foot. It got real interesting when you were responding to a fire with red light & siren. You had to use your right leg to hold it in gear and your left foot on the accelerator yet be ready to brake or clutch.

Oh to be young and stupid again!

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I had a 55 Chrysler New Yorker that would quit when I made a hard left turn.

It turns out that Chrysler made a "correction kit" just for this problem. The top of the carburator was warped and fuel by-passed from the bowel into the center of the carb.

The fix? A short piece of 1/8" tubing that fit in a hole between the top and the base of the carb!

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One of the first more interesting cars that I got in high school was a ’64 Plymouth Valiant Wagon that one of my mother’s friends said I could have if I could make it run. I brought it home and found that it would run but very badly. I found a compression problem with the #1 and #2 pistons. I pulled the head off and saw that the head gasket failed between the two cylinders and a channel had actually been burnt in the block between the two. I made a trip to the hardware store and after looking around some spotted something called metal putty, it was in a small half pint can and after reading the back decided to give it a try. I cleaned up the top of the block was best as I could and then used a putty knife to fill the crack. It was a real stinker to file flat and used a flat file to surface it and a round file to clean the edges of the cylinders the crack went into. I bought a new head gasket and after put it all back together it ran great and got 26 miles to the gallon. I drove that car for 9 months without a single issue taking it up north several times and only decided to sell it after another car caught my eye.

A second car, a bit later as I think it was around ’72, I found and bought a ‘67 Dodge Charger that had a bad engine but the price was right at $300. I brought it home looking what appeared to be well used but found it was just mostly dirt from being unkempt, it cleaned up real nice into a beautiful like new car inside and out. So, now to find out what the problem with the engine was. I managed to get it running and then identified that there was no compression on the number 2 cylinder and pulled the head off and saw that the piston had a hole in it. I had an older 61 waiting to be picked up for scrap and pulled the head and the pan off and managed to get the piston out of it. I did the same with the Charger engine and the pistons appeared the same so I used some fine sandpaper and cleaned up the cylinder and popped the used piston in. After buttoning everything up and the engine started right up and ran as smooth as ever. I kept the car for a short time and loved the ride and performance, it was a hard decision to give it up but it was a money thing at the time. I probably have a couple more entertaining/fun stories from the time but these two will have to do. Scott…

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One of my early cars was a 1941 Cadillac; the hydromatic whined a bit but shifted - 1st to 3rd then quickly back to 2nd, 3rd again and 4th. When parking diagonally, you had to be careful to leave the front tires a few inches from the curb since the only way to get it to back up was to roll forward, stop and immediately drop it into reverse. It also refused to start when it was hot but, boy, do I wish I hadn't sold it!

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I also had a couple of Fords that gave me condenser problems. First was a '60 Sunliner. Started home from work one morning and it was missing so bad at times that I thought I wouldn't get home. Got up that evening and started to town to get it looked at. Didn't get very far and it quit. Started it back up and after about 3 miles it quit again. It did that for about 18 miles and then it quit for good. My older brother came along, went and got a condenser and it was fixed. Years later was on I-64 in a '72 Torino. It also started missing, then it would run good, then it would miss some more. Went to get a condenser the next day, when I came out of NAPA with the new condenser the car would not start, so up went the hood, put the new condenser in parked right there on the side of the street, cranked it up and drove home. End of problem. Had a '68 Chrysler 300 convertible with a 440 V8. It would idle at a stop light or stop sign and soon as I stepped on the gas to pull out it would die. Stopped on North Mountain one evening to get a root beer from the cooler and when I got back in the car it would not crank. It would click and that was it. Lo and behold who should come along but my youngest brother. He toook two screwdrivers and jumped fire from one side of the solenoid from the other and it fired up. It did me that way for weeks. It would start until I got in a spot where it would die when pulling out and then it would not start. The thing was when I was where I could get a new solenoid it would behave and I'd forget to replace it. Then no where near a parts store it would act up. Get out the screwdrivers and crank it up, get in and touch the gas and it would die. The Chrysler garage had tried to cure the quitting problem with no success. Now I had two problems. Stopped one evening behind a stopped school bus and when I went to pull out it died. Started it and it died. Repeat and repeat. Finally after several tries I managed to get going. Went home and took the solenoid off, hoping to take it apart and maybe clean corrosion out of it. It had prongs bent over holding the cover on the base, it was tempered steel and the prongs would not bend to open it up. Finally in trying to force them open with a screwdriver I managed to run the screwdriver into my finger. I took that devilish little trouble-maker and threw it down on the driveway at my feet as hard as I could throw it. Cooled down a little, picked the solenoid up and put it back on the car. It never failed me again. I finally took the car to an independent repair shop and they did what the Chrysler mechanic could not do; fixed the carburetor and it never stalled again. One other problem I recall. The power steering hose was twice as long as it should have been and it ran from the p.s. unit down along side the engine directly under the exhaust manifold and back up to the steering coupling. Went to play music one night and as I was backing into a driveway the steering quit working. A young fellow riding with me (my lead guitar player) hollered, "this thing is on fire." That hose had ruptured and sprayed p.s. fluid onto the manifold but when it quit pumping fluid the fire quit. The '69 models had a much shorter hose. Oh by the way, when I installed the new p.s. hose, I wrapped it in a bicycle tire and it was still good 40,000 miles later when I got rid of it. The original hose had only lasted about 12,000 miles.

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While living in Houston in the early '70s, I bought a VERY well-used 1949 MG TC. I drove it to work on good days. There was one railroad crossing where, if I hit it just so, both (suicide) doors would fly open and it would pop out of gear. This required four hands - one for each door, one for the gear lever and one for the steering wheel.

Gil Fitzhugh, Morristown, NJ

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Mid 70's,just turned 16 and while my 55' Chevrolets had assorted quirks I recall watching all my Ford driving buddies go through the same routine to start their cars.

Lean forward,wrap left arm behind steering wheel so hand could grab the automatic shift lever on column.Lift up shift handle THEN turn the ignition key.Release lever after car started and shift into gear.

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