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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 10-07-2009, 01:56 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Share your repair stories of screw-up!

This thread is kind is for laughing but also serves as educational purposes so others can learn from our rookie mistakes....

So: Share your repair stories of screw-up! It could be E39 or any car and could be any time in your life.

* 1980's: I was a naive high school student changing engine oil for my Dad's 1980s Toyota Camry. Drained engine oil, installed filter, added 6 qts, checked dipstick, a bit low, added 2 qts, dipstick same no change, added another 3 qts dipstick same. Hummmm what is going on....What the heck I drove the car, tons of smoke came out the rear end as engine oil is sucked and burned in the combustion chamber, smoke filled the street like a cloud.
Later, it turned out I pulled the Transmission dipstick to check instead of the Engine Oil dipstick...!!! Had to stop by a shop along the street to drain the excessive oil that I added!
The morale of the story: always check the owners manual and repair manual before servicing the car!

* Fast forward 1990: now I am in college, a bit more experience but still a rookie.
Did not know the importance of jackstand!
I crawled under my 1991 Volvo 240 to change manual trans fluid with only a jack that came with the car, how stupid!
Luckily all 4 tires are on (not removed), somehow my foot kicked the jack and I could see the jack slowly swaying (this is the scariest moment of my life!)...Luckily I crawled out before the jack sways further (the jack never came down completely); otherwise I'd squished a bit (having the tires on helps). No injury but......Whewwww!
The morale of the story: always use jankstand when crawling under the car, especially when the tires are removed!!!
Plus it helps to have someone around the house.

OK, your turn to share your screw-ups...

Last edited by cn90; 10-07-2009 at 07:51 PM.
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  #2  
Old 10-07-2009, 02:06 PM
andyffer andyffer is offline
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i can not trust your DIY guides anymore..
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  #3  
Old 10-07-2009, 02:08 PM
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dalekressin dalekressin is offline
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More self screw up DIYs than at dealerships. We just won't openly admit.
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  #4  
Old 10-07-2009, 02:14 PM
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bmw_n00b13 bmw_n00b13 is offline
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I haven't really done any serious DIYs yet, but last time I changed the oil on my car, I positioned the drain pan nicely underneath the plug, removed the plug, and went to get the filter out. Unfortunately, on my car, the oil plug is on the side of the oil pan and about 4 quarts went on the floor instead of in the pan.

I've got a list of screwups working on computers that would take days to type out though….you've gotta learn from your mistakes!
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  #5  
Old 10-07-2009, 02:16 PM
shodog shodog is offline
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I learned a valuable lesson on my first E39 oil change. Those wimpy drain pans hold about 6 quarts max. I ended up with an exxon valdez size oil spill in my driveway. Next time around I bought the big daddy diesel oil pan.
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  #6  
Old 10-07-2009, 02:16 PM
kjmiller1 kjmiller1 is offline
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Back in High School I was changing my oil in my Suburban. When I finished I started it up only to find oil pouring down my parents driveway. It turns out when I took off the oil filter to replace it, the rubber O-Ring didn't come off with it. So when I had put the new one on, I had two O-Rings which obviously didn't seal very well. Definitely learned a lesson from that one.
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  #7  
Old 10-07-2009, 04:32 PM
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dannyc9997 dannyc9997 is offline
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I was 16 when I added a decent amount of washer fluid to the engine oil. Drove the car (a 1994 Grand Prix) for 6 months, sold it to someone else, and a few months later I realised what I had done when my friend brought it to me for an oil change. The oil was clearly overfilled and very thin. Nothing ever happened to the car though

More recently, I made the mistake of trusting the (what I thought was...) clear expansion tank bottle on my Infiniti I30. It always clearly was at the full line, and it looked red-ish (I assumed someone had put red coolant in it, I didnt have any to top it off so I never touched it). Well the other day I say, what the hell im going to have a look in here. I open the cap and was punched in the face by a putrid burnt nasty smell, and I see that in fact there was NO coolant in the tank, just a brown/red burnt on sludge mark around the tank. I add some water and the "coolant", if you can call it that, was nothing but a brown bubbling nasty sludge. 2 years it must have been like this . Going to flush it Saturday and see what happens
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  #8  
Old 10-07-2009, 04:34 PM
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My first Motive vacuum extraction oil change ...

Caved in the pressure jar!
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  #9  
Old 10-07-2009, 04:36 PM
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My first FSU replacement ...

Broke the Jesus clips right off ...

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  #10  
Old 10-07-2009, 04:37 PM
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My first brake job ...

Put way way way too much anti-seize on the faces ...

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  #11  
Old 10-07-2009, 04:40 PM
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My umpteenth DICE iPod full battery reboot procedure on the BMW!

I tried to skip removing the negative cable ... ended up frying my fingers and putting a good sized melt in my battery hold-down and wrenches!

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  #12  
Old 10-07-2009, 04:48 PM
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POof540i POof540i is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kjmiller1 View Post
Back in High School I was changing my oil in my Suburban. When I finished I started it up only to find oil pouring down my parents driveway. It turns out when I took off the oil filter to replace it, the rubber O-Ring didn't come off with it. So when I had put the new one on, I had two O-Rings which obviously didn't seal very well. Definitely learned a lesson from that one.
+1. Same thing happened to me on that one.

Working on my 540, while I was changing the CCV, a tube attached to the old CCV on one end and to the front of the intake on the other, came loose. This tube runs through the inside of the intake, fyi. I then proceeded to attach the tube to the new CCV first, then tried in vain to connect the other end to the intake. I decided to go through the throttle body by twisting the flap to it and squeezing my fingers through there to guide the tube. I ended up screwing up my throttle body and had to replace it for a cool $240.

Another screw up I had involved my uncles old Bronco II. He hired me to change the water pump. I did, but in the process of lifting the old pump out, I bumped it into the motor, dropped it and made a couple of nice gashes on the radiator. So I told him, I got good news and I got bad news.
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  #13  
Old 10-07-2009, 06:11 PM
murtic528i murtic528i is offline
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HAHAHA heres one ..... we all were in auto-tech and i go to lift a pontiac vibe up ..... it was on an older model lift that was burried in the ground and then raises up they dont use these anymore. but i go to lift it and the teacher didnt turn the air on so all it did was lower the car ..... so here i am trying to make the car stop moving the lever both ways ....... oh yeah and the front wheels were off and it slowly started to sit right down on the brakes. I almost started CRYING ... this was my freshman year and now all of the guys wont leave me alone ... all in all the brakes survived an the vibe was back to normal that day. Not really a bad DIY story but def a screw up!
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  #14  
Old 10-07-2009, 06:24 PM
andyffer andyffer is offline
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broke a couple clips on my grill?

I havent done any repairs yet. Nor has my dealer!
I just got a free multipoint inspection from my dealer and everything is perfect except for my "dry, rotted, cracked tires with little tread"
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  #15  
Old 10-07-2009, 06:27 PM
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Bren517 Bren517 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
My umpteenth DICE iPod full battery reboot procedure on the BMW!

I tried to skip removing the negative cable ... ended up frying my fingers and putting a good sized melt in my battery hold-down and wrenches!

did that too i put a massive gash in my friends dads really really expensive set of spanners
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  #16  
Old 10-07-2009, 06:32 PM
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also another scary jack story my friend had was that he was working on his car in another friends driveway (1 jack, no stands, and no secondary jack) the jack gaveway crushed his chest and an ambulance had to be called...no one actually realised what had happened until one of them kick his foot asking if he wanted some lunch and he didnt respond..

moral of the story.. invest in some decent equipment and always make sure the car is securely supported on a FLAT ground.. and yes he ended up recovering fine..could of been alot worse if his car was alot lower...
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  #17  
Old 10-07-2009, 06:33 PM
Financeman Financeman is offline
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Many years ago when I was a senior in high school I purchased my first car - a two year old 75 Ford Mustang II.....One day I added oil but left the oil filler cap on top of the valve covers...... Guess what? When I went to close the hood it did not want to latch...but being a tenacious individual I lifted the hood and dropped it again and again until it finally latched. Of course you can imagine my horror when I finally saw a rather large dent in the hood of my pride and joy poking up from below....ouch. I've never again made that expensive mistake.
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  #18  
Old 10-07-2009, 07:39 PM
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M///Chook M///Chook is offline
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Mein Auto: 1996 E39 535i V8 sedan
My trunklid electric actuator solenoid started making a whirring noise about 12 months ago. I took it out of the car and decided I'd pull it apart to see if it was serviceable. Undid the two screws, and lifted the plastic side cover off, and all these jesus springs and gears flew out, and one went in my eye.
Dropped to my knees and went "Aaaargh!!! Its in my eye!!! You b#%$^rd car!!" and after recovering, saw a million tiny pieces of gears and springs scattered all over the ground. No idea how to put it back together. Had to buy a new one. When I put the new solenoid in, it made exactly the same noises as the old one I took out
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  #19  
Old 10-07-2009, 07:43 PM
acefreely02 acefreely02 is offline
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Mein Auto: e39 540i, e30 325is, e30
autobody class at school in gr. 12. kid brought in his 79 benz to fix rust. i went to put the car on the hoist. has the 4 swing arms that go on jack points or frame rails. i set it up and start lifting. car slowly starts goin up and then all of a sudden dropps down hard with loud crunching... i pooped my pants thinkin i flucked up this car. we get down and look and the car was so rusty the floor pushed itself threw the rest of the body.
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Old 10-07-2009, 08:32 PM
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lild lild is offline
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Mein Auto: 97' 528i, 06 ninja
a few years ago, i put a reman motor into my s-10 blazer. of course you got to use some of your old stuff to put on the new motor. valve covers, intake, timing chain cover so forth.
well i forgot to put the new gasket onto my timing chain cover, and that lead to water mixing with the oil. so i drain it, put in new oil, only to discover i forgot to put the oil drain plug in. yeah, fresh 4 qts of oil on the floor.
and then recently on my intake manifold gasket rebuild, all went fine except for 2 things. 1, the bushings that hold the throttle cables to the tb, broke, and yeah zip ties works great, two, when i started the car she shaked real bad, and i realize i forgot to plug the maf back up.
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  #21  
Old 10-08-2009, 07:25 AM
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Philboski Philboski is offline
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I have a couple:

First car, and 87 Integra. I was doing something on the engine (can't remember what) that required me to pull the dipstick fromt he car. Halfway back to the city that night, I start smelling oil burning, so I open the hood, and have a peek. Next thing, I am calling my dad, saying "could you run out into the garage and find the dipstick for my car please...."

Second car, 85 300ZX. My dad and I had changed the master cylinder, and were trying to bleed the brakes. I set up on the left rear tire, and get ready....and nothing. I move to the next wheel, tell my dad to try again. Nothing. Front wheels? Nothing. We are stumped, check everything in the engine bay, and all seems tight as a drum. So we decide to try again. As I am sitting there, I look up, and notice that my dad is pounding his foot on the clutch pedal. It wasn't until I fell backwards into the wall laughing that he realised something was up
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Old 10-08-2009, 08:09 AM
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doru doru is offline
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In my earlier days I changed a dying battery. Bought one that fit by the "looks" (I measured the H x W x L). The terminals were reversed. Fried the main fuse. Could be much worse......
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  #23  
Old 10-08-2009, 08:24 AM
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When installing my new Hella clear lenses last year, I push one of them down hard with the light resting on its back to snap it in and I here another snap. I broke the headlight adjuster that I previously fixed the year before. I felt like an idiot.
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  #24  
Old 10-08-2009, 01:01 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Found this picture in the bimmerforums E23 section:
http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum....php?t=1250853

This fellow's method of jacking up the car is very unorthodox...hehe! I'd not recommend this way of supporting the car!

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  #25  
Old 10-08-2009, 01:38 PM
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spydrz spydrz is offline
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Last time I did my oil change (use a Mityvac). Had a case of oil on hand but I needed a filter, so I swung by the $tealer and picked one up with my CCA discount. Came in a box, but I just figured they'd changed the packaging. Happens all the time, right? So I get home, pop the hood, and go get my massive socket for the filter housing. Place it on the D/S cabin air filter housing. So you see where this one's going...

Open the box...
It's waaaay too long. A V8 filter. They gave me the wrong part, despite the fact that I told the guy at the counter (who has been there for years) the last 7 of my VIN, which I'm dumb enough to remember. In disgust I shut the hood to go back over there and swap it for the right one...which doesn't close all the way...
It's just a little dimple, something that can be removed by paintless dent repair, but still...
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