Jump to content

What's the worst mechanical failure you've had while driving?


George Smolinski
 Share

Recommended Posts

Bought a 1967 Barracuda that had been sitting for years. Slant six, automatic. Driving down the freeway one day, my honey said, "What's that noise?" I turned the radio down and heard a deep rattling in the engine. I stopped to check the oil and it was three quarts low. I filled it to it's capacity and went on my way. A couple of days later, I was driving through town with the car and it all of a sudden went silent. The engine locked up and I sold the car.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Driving in my 1955 Dodge one day, I went to make a left turn at a traffic light and as the car was turning, I felt all pressure in the steering go away. I turned the wheel to go straight and the car kept turning left into oncoming traffic. No matter which way I turned the wheel, it was not working. The connection between the steering column and box failed. I ended up on some guy's lawn, but he understood the problem and was OK with it.

14103047_10208747410301577_5248413976706131520_o.jpg

Edited by keiser31 (see edit history)
  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I built this little guy only to find out it didn't like to turn left all of the time.

It didn't drain down the oil fast enough to keep the bearings lubed and I blew it up.

In this venue we were required to have a raciever. Its a one way radio from the officials to the drivers.

When the car went boom and I was coasting down the exit there were three guys running towards me with fire extinguishers and the voice in my ear was saying, "DO NOT DRIVE THRU THAT  OIL, THERE ARE PARTS ON THE TRACK" !!!

Mr Natural.jpeg

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Driving through a Philly suburb with my 1970 Chevy pickup a tie rod end come from together to apart putting me into the curb. A pair of pliers and a coat hanger wired it back together and I drove it near a 100 miles home...........Bob

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

34 minutes ago, George Smolinski said:

Raymond Mays losing a wheel in his Bugatti in the 1930s

May be an image of outdoors and text that says 'WHAT'S THE WORST MECHANICAL FAILURE YOU'VE HAD WHILE DRIVING? தR CT6559'

While not "the worst", I had a similar ^^ experience while driving a 1955 Chrysler "300", except the wheel/brake drum combo didn't fly off, but slid off the axle shaft enough that I lost ability to slow it with brakes or dropping transmission to first gear. 

Mind you, this happened on a down hill mountain road at about 35-40 MPH and about 5-10 minutes after I had been hill climbing "spiritedly" and gentlemanly "racing"(?) a later model BMW on a very twisty and steep incline with deep drops to canyon below (glad it didn't occur during that exercise).

The "300" had about 1200 miles since it had been "fully" restored (although not by me) about 20 some years earlier for a fairly prominent (private) collection and had recently been purchased by another client of mine.

Edited by TTR (see edit history)
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1967 Comet Caliente, 

This car I was temporary winter transportation, I sold it. In a week it was left on the side of the road with the title in the glove box.

I sold it a second time, again it was left in a parking lot, this time no battery, title still in the glove box.

With a different battery it fired right up, a mile down the road things did not feel good and when I hit a pothole the sub frame pulled lose of the firewall.

There was a good 4 inch gap between the bottom of the fender and the door.

The bone yard gave me $30 and that was the last I saw of that car.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Driving a 1974 AMC Javelin to work ( 10:30pm ) , started to smell something burning...before I could figure out what it was, had a small flame come up by my left foot near the high / low dimmer switch on the floorboard....pulled off the road, took a few handfuls of snow and put out the fire....... then I continue on to work.

 

Steve

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1935 Chrysler C1 Airflow broke the right rear axle on the Texas/Arkansas border.   The is was on the 1995 Great North American Race

Ottowa Canada to Mexico City, ending the Endurance Champion's 13 year history with the Great Race.   We did return as Tourists for part of the 2001 Race.  Then the it ran Peking to Paris before retiring.   I still miss that car, it was a tough old car.

Interesting thing was that the axle broke right at the backing plate and the wheel did not come off like Rayond Mays car pictured above.    The Airflow's fender skirt kept the wheel within the fender. 

 

AirflowDeath.jpg.4404873e9352e4c35654eef2efa87316.jpg

Edited by Paul Dobbin (see edit history)
  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

32 minutes ago, keiser31 said:

Driving in my 1955 Dodge one day, I went to make a left turn at a traffic light and as the car was turning, I felt all pressure in the steering go away. I turned the wheel to go straight and the car kept turning left into oncoming traffic. No matter which way I turned the wheel, it was not working. The connection between the steering column and box failed. I ended up on some guy's lawn, but he understood the problem and was OK with it.

after getting my 1969 pontiac le mans back from the body shop after an accident, the rag joint between the steering column and the steering gear box broke, i was franticly spinning that wheel as the car continued going straight

 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Once while driving my 1957 MGA roadster, I was stopping at a traffic light and my right front wheel kept going, went across the intersection and hit a guy's front door of his home. I had replaced the right side locking spinner and hub with a left front. I learned a lesson that day about left and right hand threads.

img019.jpg

  • Like 5
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My most terrifying moment was back in 1972 driving our 1969 Fairlane Cobra on a perfectly straight 2 lane road in North Alabama around 60 mph, the speed limit then. My wife and I had went to East Tennessee to show the folks our brand new baby boy and she had him in her arms. All the sudden, there was a noise and we went sliding around all over the highway and ended up barely off the pavement in front of a house. The rear shaft in the 4 speed transmission had broke and locked up everything !  Besides being scared, I was so mad that when it got towed to our place, I sold it as-is to a local dealer for 700 bucks.... All I did before he hauled it off was get my papers out of the glove box and pried my Cobra tach off the steering column. I might have over-reacted, as I've tried to find it several times since... oh well.

cobrajet 6.jpg

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 minutes ago, keiser31 said:

Once while driving my 1957 MGA roadster, I was stopping at a traffic light and my right front wheel kept going, went across the intersection and hit a guy's front door of his home. I had replaced the right side locking spinner and hub with a left front. I learned a lesson that day about left and right hand threads.

 

I Like the comment on your license plate DUH!

 

I was driving my 66 Mustang on I-5 Freeway on a rainy dark night when I lost my headlights. I had to feel my way off to the side of the road and was glad there were no obstacles to crash into.

 

 

I

Edited by JFranklin (see edit history)
  • Like 2
  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was driving my Mom's 55 Ford 272 Y-block into Chicago on the Kennedy Expressway on a Friday night. The oil pump driveshaft stripped out eliminating all oil pressure. didn't hear the knocking at first but it started to slow down and we exited. Pulled into a gas station and it was real loud. The attendant (Yes this was along time ago) told us not to turn it off and checked the oil, it took four quarts and was pouring out the rear seal which must have fried. We bought a case of cheap oil and drove home on the back roads at 20-25 mph, stopping every few miles to add more oil. I guess the crankshaft splashing kept it going, we made it home and I pulled it in the garage knowing I'd need to work on it. My Mom needed the car for work on Monday so out came the engine Saturday morning, I put in a reground crank and bearing kit, new oil pump and shaft, without pulling the pistons or heads. I got it back together on Sunday and started it up and it ran great, very surprised there was not any top end damage. Those Y-block engines were made to take a lot of abuse IMO.

IMG_0010.jpg

IMG_0014.jpg

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1956 Plymouth... purchased after sunset.  (had been sitting for years)

Brakes were soft but the streets were quiet so I took a chance and drove it home.

Close to home the brakes totally failed - peddle to the floor

Downshifted like crazy!

Came up to a stop sign... with cars going the other direction

Shockingly it stopped!  (emergency brake was equally as worthless)

I limped home at 5mph.

Thankfully the worst failure was the brakes and not my bladder or colon. 

 

  • Like 1
  • Haha 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the early '70s I was cruising along on I-40 with my girlfriend in my Opel station wagon, hit a huge pothole at the end of a bridge and the right rear wheel broke off. There was a shower of sparks behind me that James Bond would have been proud of. For a while it felt like someone was in the back seat driving the rear of the car and I was having to turn the steering wheel to counteract what they were doing. Finally got it stopped on the side of the interstate without being hit. That was the scariest experience I've had in my life..

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've had mechanical failures with several vehicles but I suppose the worst was in a 1930 Ford pickup.  I felt the rear bucking and pulling to the right.  I looked in the door mirror on that side and saw the wheel spinning out past the fender.  The axle threads had stripped and the hub/drum was working off.  As it was a Model A, I was only doing about 30 so I was able to stop before it came off completely.  We hauled it home and re-threaded the axle a size smaller, kinda redneck fix but it worked.

 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Keiser -- My grandfather had the identical '55 Royal Lancer, in that color combination. That car had the quietest engine I've ever encountered; at idle in drive you literally could not hear the engine from inside the car. The car survived until the late 1970s in Houston, Texas, but we lost track of it after that. 

 

As for wildest breakdown, I was driving a box van down the road when the steering wheel fell off and onto my lap. I had to quickly pick it up and stick it back on the shaft to regain control. Thankfully there was no one coming at me. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Back in the early eighties I think? Driving my 1969 Cougar on interstate 25 in Colorado. Rush hour AM traffic. 

Throttle linkage on the carburetor got stuck in the open position and wouldn't release. Somehow managed to get her pulled to the side of the road and thought to myself, how the heck am I going to get out, open the hood and remove the air cleaner to unstick the linkage?? Other vehicles were racing by me at highway speeds. Had to do something so I went for it. Made sure it was in park, set the emergency brake and took my chance hoping everything would hold. It all worked out in the end, but man, what a SCARY position to be in. Have also have the vacuum hose come off the transmission modulator so she wouldn't shift, and had to fix that on the side of the road as well.

Still have her to this day. She and I have been thru hell and back many times.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Back in the 80’s I was driving my 1931 Cadillac coupe down 495 towards Cape Cod for a long weekend with a rather attractive young lady........2/3 of the way there, there was a terrible whine/screeching noise in the car.......It would send chills down your spine.............I threw her out of the car, and the noise was gone. Found one on Cape Cod Seashore that was much more pleasant, and didn’t make any noise.......in the car anyways. 😎

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
  • Like 10
  • Haha 9
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 1961 AA Dragster @ a164MPH, 392 Chrysler,  broke the crank in 5 pieces, tore the front of the block right off. But it was ok, we beat the other guy!

                                            😁  😁  😁

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, Bhigdog said:

Driving through a Philly suburb with my 1970 Chevy pickup a tie rod end come from together to apart putting me into the curb. A pair of pliers and a coat hanger wired it back together and I drove it near a 100 miles home...........Bob

Had the same thing happen one night on a rural two lane blacktop running about 55 in my '68 Olds 442. Ended up over a bank backward into a group of trees. Got the car repaired and sold it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In 1969 my cousin and I were on our way to his folks place on the Oregon coast. We were driving my 1936 Dodge humped back delivery to spend a weekend there. It was night and  we were driving on a dike. We drove into thick fog so I flipped on the fog lights and all the lights went out. Hoping no one was behind us I stopped and had my cousin get out and walk along side to guide us. His door was open and the window down when all the sudden he started screaming to stop. He had walked off the edge of the dike and was hanging onto the doors window frame. After he pulled himself up onto the running board I eased away from the edge. We had no flashlight so by feel I found the headlight relay and took the cover off and found that by pushing down on the relay the lights would come on. So on our hands and knees in the gravel we found a cigarette butt that we used to hold the relay and we were on our way again. Him walking off the edge of that dike just about scared both of us to death. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My girlfriend (wife of 38 years now) was driving my 70 Chevy PU down SE 14th street in Des Moines when she noticed the Left front fender drop and saw a wheel rolling down the street ahead of her.  After she got it stopped the police came to inspect and found ALL of the lug nut almost off.  A present from my EX

Edited by Robert G. Smits
spelling (see edit history)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, edinmass said:

Back in the 80’s I was driving my 1931 Cadillac coupe down 495 towards Cape Cod for a long weekend with a rather attractive young lady........2/3 of the way there, there was a terrible whine/screeching noise in the car.......It would send chills down your spine.............I threw her out of the car, and the noise was gone. Found one on Cape Cod Seashore that was much more pleasant, and didn’t make any noise.......in the car anyways. 😎

 

302DA2AB-B08A-4870-9977-A5D903E2D767.thu

  • Haha 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, edinmass said:

Back in the 80’s I was driving my 1931 Cadillac coupe down 495 towards Cape Cod for a long weekend with a rather attractive young lady........2/3 of the way there, there was a terrible whine/screeching noise in the car.......It would send chills down your spine.............I threw her out of the car, and the noise was gone.

 

kangaroo.jpg

  • Like 3
  • Haha 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

30 minutes ago, Robert G. Smits said:

My girlfriend (wife of 38 years now) was driving my 70 Chevy PU down SE 14th street in Des Moines when she noticed the Left front fender drop and saw a wheel rolling down the street ahead of her.  After she got it stopped the police came to inspect and found ALL of the lug nut almost off.  A present from my EX

 

Two words...

Restraining order

;) 

 

Please tell me that wasn't about 1983...

I remember something like that happening on my way to Russ and Abbys La Pizza house from the south side traveling north on SE 14th before you cross over the bridge as you're going to the east side... talk about a small world. 

 

 

My worst mechanical failure was a mid 70s Duster rear end locking up at 65 mph... 

Come to think of it, that was a very high pitch scream also...

 

 

Edited by 30DodgePanel (see edit history)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My 1954 Plymouth that I had in High School had a nasty tendency (2 or 3 times) to suddenly slide to a stop as the engine seized.  The crank was out of round and if driven too spiritedly would cause the bearing insert to spin on the crank.  We would get it home, pull the pan and the cap for number five. Emory cloth the journal and put in another insert and away we went.

My Wife’s 1961 Rambler Ambassador while making a left turn suddenly went “clunk” and the right front fender dropped about a foot. Got into a parking lot and found that the lower trunnion joint had broken. I didn’t even know what a trundle joint was at the time. I found out.

Edited by plymouthcranbrook (see edit history)
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, TexRiv_63 said:

I was driving my Mom's 55 Ford 272 Y-block into Chicago on the Kennedy Expressway on a Friday night. The oil pump driveshaft stripped out eliminating all oil pressure. didn't hear the knocking at first but it started to slow down and we exited. Pulled into a gas station and it was real loud. The attendant (Yes this was along time ago) told us not to turn it off and checked the oil, it took four quarts and was pouring out the rear seal which must have fried. We bought a case of cheap oil and drove home on the back roads at 20-25 mph, stopping every few miles to add more oil. I guess the crankshaft splashing kept it going, we made it home and I pulled it in the garage knowing I'd need to work on it. My Mom needed the car for work on Monday so out came the engine Saturday morning, I put in a reground crank and bearing kit, new oil pump and shaft, without pulling the pistons or heads. I got it back together on Sunday and started it up and it ran great, very surprised there was not any top end damage. Those Y-block engines were made to take a lot of abuse IMO.

IMG_0010.jpg

IMG_0014.jpg

  What's with the red turn signals?  1955 wqs way before emergency flashers, even for volunteer firemen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1998. We had just gotten the inspection done on our 1990 Ford Aerostar and my mom and I took a ride, coming down a hill on Route 9D in Fishkill NY and the breaks are gone. She somehow managed to get us stopped and ended up getting it limped into the parking lot of the now defunct Stewart's Shop there. My brother came and got us in his car and my dad fixed the brakes in the parking lot later that night. As it turns out they did something to the brake line when they were checking it. 

 

In 2018 my brother's car had catastrophic engine failure while going on I84 in Newburgh NY. A friendly passerby helped him push it out of the driving lane during rush hour. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Back in the mid 70's I was on my way back to RI from Long Island on my 1910 REO. I'd just gotten off the Orient Point Ferry when the drive shaft broke. But, a broken down brass car attracts attention. Strange as it sounds - it took less than 2 hours to fix and I was back on the road.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

24 minutes ago, plymouthcranbrook said:

See, this is what happens when I rely on what’s left of my memory. Correct name is trunnion, which most probably already knew.  Sigh….

Now I know what they are after looking them up.

 
Quote
What are trunnions on a car?
The trunnion allows the spindle to rotate when the vehicle is steering, and allows for up-down movement of the control arms at the same time. Trunnion assemblies have been phased out in favor of upper/lower ball joints.
 
  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1956 Oldsmobile 4 door sedan. Nothing quite like  seeing a cloud of smoke suddenly appear from under the car while on a freeway and being unable to get to a berm quickly. Extremely unnerving to turn the key off and have it INSTANTLY go silent. I had just changed the oil (teenager) and didn't get the gasket set right on the filter canister. Luckily after cooling down, being towed, refilled with oil, it ran better than it ever had. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...