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Repairing What the Mechanic Did

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Through the years, I’ve learned that mechanics cannot be relied upon. (If you’re a mechanic, I apologize and I’m sorry you’re unreliable).

I have more instances of this than I can count, but the most recent incident occurred when my newest Chicago mechanic, whom I really like, told me in his noble Scottish accent that the PREVIOUS mechanic had put in a temporary oil plug when they performed my last oil change. I mostly like my previous mechanic, which is a Chicagoland Mitsubishi dealership, but I was frustrated to hear this as it seems I cannot even get a simple oil change, without having to endure some new, lingering hassle. And a hassle it was…

Why temporary oil plugs are not ideal.

As soon as I got home, the temporary plug was already leaking my NEW oil all over the garage floor. Here was my dilemma: WHY was a temporary plug put into my oil pan, when the truck came with a perfectly good, PERMANENT oil plug? Most likely, the previous mechanic stripped the plug and rather than tell me they screwed (pardon the pun) up, they just plugged the hole with the temporary plug. Replacing an entire oil pan is very expensive and I’ve yet to meet a mechanic who says “This was our fault, so we’ll replace everything.”

I may be a NOBODY, but it’s one NOBODY I can rely on. So I called myself to action.

I'm going to need to inspect you "down there."

If the hole was stripped, the only option would be to insert another temporary plug myself. After all, no mechanic would admit that the hole was fine and simply screw in a new PERMANENT plug. No, they would want to cash in by sticking me with a new oil pan, new seal and all that lovely labor they love to stretch. So I also bought a permanent plug. I wasn’t going to let my new oil go to waste either, so I got a tray to capture that.

Why are all auto supply stores in Chicago Irish?

Here was the hard part: Temporary oil plugs are almost impossible to pull out of the hole. (Get your minds out of the gutter) They have a butterfly nut on the end that once inserted, is impossible to retract so the plug can be pulled out. After a half hour of vowing to hunt down my previous mechanic, so I could plug HIS hole with an impossible-to-remove temporary oil plug, a brilliant idea came to me–the most important invention of ALL time–a paper clip! Would a paper clip save me from defeat and from a huge auto repair bill?

The best tool Craftsman® doesn't make: The paper clip

I have to confess that I was nearly ready to admit defeat, when I stuck in my customized paper clip. I can’t describe the rush I felt when the “temporary” plug came right out!

My own glorious oil spill.

I had purchased a permanent plug in the event that the hole was not stripped. With great anticipation, I slowly screwed in the permanent plug and it tightened all the way in. Had I not been flat on my back, covered in oil, I would have danced a little jig!

Unlike BP, I captured my own oil and after the plug was put in, I poured the oil back into the engine, added another quart and voila, my truck was back to normal.

One day I’ll be wealthy enough to pay mechanics to break my car and repair it again at my expense. Until then, I’ll do my own repairs, thank you.

Written by Joe

June 16th, 2010 at 12:16 pm