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Don’t Be A Tool; Learn To Fix Your Own Car

, , , , , , | Friendly | October 2, 2022

In high school, I had a friend who was mechanically inept. [Friend #1] was so bad at using tools that, even after we tried to show him, he reminded me of a toddler getting their hands on a toy tool for the first time and having no idea how to work them.

For example, [Friend #1] wanted to help [Friend #2] and me build a box for skating that had a rail, a ramp, and an edge for doing tricks. He asked to help do something, so we handed him a hammer and nails so he could help. He held the hammer’s handle just below the head and he could not hammer a nail in. It was painful to watch him fumble with the hammer. We had to take the hammer away from him and make him just sit on the side and watch.

Fast forward a couple of years from the skating box. Against our recommendation, [Friend #1] purchases a used Honda Civic that was abused; it was driven hard and the transmission was dropped. Sadly, he sold off his decked-out Honda Prelude to purchase the broken Civic.

He doesn’t have the money to pay for a shop to replace the transmission for him, so he asks a few of us to help him replace it with the rebuilt one he picked up. We tell him we can help, but he will need to rent an engine hoist because the engine rests on the transmission and we need to lift it to remove the old transmission and lift it to put the new one in place. He says he will take care of getting the hoist, and we agree to come over to help this coming Saturday.

We show up on Saturday afternoon and [Friend #1] is anxious to get going. With how bad he is at using tools, everyone else does the work for him. Since the car is going up on the jack stands, we also check the brakes and rotors and fix a part of the exhaust that has a hole in it and the hanging brackets that are broken.

Time for replacing the transmission. We get the car up, disconnect the transmission, and ask [Friend #1] to bring over the engine hoist.

Friend #1: “Oh, I never rented one. You can do the work without it.”

We should say no and walk, but we are young and determined that we can get it done. It takes three of us to muscle up the engine just enough to pull out the old transmission, and it takes a lot longer to get the new transmission in.

About six hours later, it’s now after 10:00 pm, and we’re all exhausted from the work, while [Friend #1] patiently sat around trying to help as much as he could without being able to actually work on the car. We check and make sure everything is bolted down correctly and clean up all the tools. We get the car back down off the jack stands, tighten the lug nuts on the wheels, and we’re done.

One of the guys helping brings [Friend #1] over and shows him where to add the transmission fluid, tells him how much to add, and shows him how to open and close the cap for where the fluid goes. This is the one and only thing our mechanically inept friend has to do. He’s excited his car is done and can’t wait to drive it.

It’s now close to 11:00 pm. We’re all tired after the unnecessary extra work and cleaning up, and we all leave him to his car and its new transmission.

At about 8:00 am the next day, I get a call from another friend, and he’s laughing as I answer the phone.

Friend #3: “You’ll never guess what happened to [Friend #1].”

Me: “What? What’s so funny?”

Friend #3: “[Friend #1] backed his car out of the garage last night after we all left and wanted to drive the car around for a bit. He got a few blocks from his house and the car stopped.” *Laughs* “The moron never put in the transmission fluid, and he seized the new transmission!”

Me: *Laughing* “What a dumba**! He was literally handed the transmission fluid, and [Friend #4] told him how much to add and showed him where right before we left. How did he forget to put it in?”

Friend #3: “I don’t know, but he’s pissed, and he wants to know if we will help him replace the transmission again if he can get another new one.”

Me: “I hope you told him no. I’m not helping again.”

Friend #3: “I told him he was on his own.”

[Friend #1] had to borrow money from his parents to get his car to a mechanic and have them replace the transmission. He was upset with himself about letting his Prelude go and getting into the mess with the Civic. Sadly, this isn’t the only stupid thing he’s done with his cars, but those are other stories for another time.

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