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Most Challenging Car Problems
Author: Holly Johnson

If you want to become a mechanic, chances are that you enjoy taking care of cars. However, being a mechanic means more than just changing oil and replacing belts. There are a lot of difficult situations that mechanics face on a day-to-day basis. Some problems are definitely more challenging than others. Here are a few of the most challenging car problems that mechanics encounter.

Engine that is hydro-locked

So, you have a customer who decided it might be fun to go puddle jumping in his brand-new Jeep Wrangler. Unfortunately, he forgot that his car wasn't a boat when he decided to take on that 4-foot puddle in the field behind his house. Now you'll have to explain that there is water inside of the engine cylinders, which is going to mean major repairs.

When engine cylinders fill with water, the pistons have no place to put it. This can cause all kinds of problems, like bent connecting rods, leaky gaskets and seals, as well as other problems. Often times, the entire engine may need to be rebuilt, which is a difficult fix for any mechanic and an expensive pill for a car owner to swallow.

Engine seizure

For some reason, a customer of yours decided that he never wanted to check the oil level in his vehicle. Who needs oil, right? Unfortunately, you're going to need to tell him that an engine does.

Engine seizure can be caused by several different issues. These include overheating due to insufficient oil or coolant, foreign objects, and rust -- to name just a few. Depending on what caused the seizure, you may be able to nurse it back to health. However, it is likely that the entire engine will have to be replaced with a re-manufactured or used engine. That sort of repair could run into the several thousands of dollars. Hopefully, your customer will have learned his lesson.

Head, head gasket, and block problems

Automobiles with a leaky hose, stuck thermostat, or that are low on coolant can easily overheat. In addition to engine seizure, this can cause major problems with the car's head, head gasket, or block. These problems can often be detected by the presence of coolant in the car's oil passages or cylinders. Replacing any of these parts is hard work and can cost your customer a fortune.

Oil in the brake system

Finding petroleum-based products -- such as oil or transmission fluid -- inside the braking system is a major problem. These products can do all kinds of damage to the rubber seals within the system. As a skilled mechanic, you may be able to blow out the lines and replace the master cylinder. It is more likely, however, that you may end up replacing the entire system. Ouch.

Computer problems

Everybody knows how to hook up jumper cables, right? All you have to do is match the colors. Unfortunately, your customer appears to be color blind and reversed the polarity when jump-starting her car. If she is lucky, your mechanic skills might save her some coin by simply replacing the computer. If she was unlucky, the burnt-out wreckage of her former car may end up being hauled away to some scrap yard.

These are just a few of the challenging car problems that mechanics face each day. Learn more about how to handle these problems by checking out one of the mechanic schools below.

Sources:

  1. "Top 10 Worst Things Your Mechanic Can Tell You," Cars.com, May 1, 2012, Tom and Ray Magliozzi, http://www.cars.com/go/advice/Story.jsp?section=top&story=worst-mechanic-diagnosis&subject=more,
  2. "Worst-Case Scenarios: 8 Biggest Car-Breakdown Headaches," CBSNews.comm Money Watch, July 12, 2011, http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505145_162-40543221/worst-case-scenarios-8-biggest-car-breakdown-headaches/"Repairing Seized Engines," Gas Engine Magazine, May/June 2003, Gary W. Grinnell, http://gasengine.farmcollector.com/Gas-Engines/Repairing-Seized-Engines.aspx