19 thoughts on “The Worst Auto Body Fix”

  1. Man that “fix” is worse than bad. Hasn’t this guy heard of wrecking yards? With a little patience you could find a matching color undamaged part.

    That almost belongs one one of those internet circulation “redneck” fixes emails, although personally I think they disparage rednecks.

    A lot of them are pretty car-savvy.

    On a somewhat related note I had an experience with a guy I will call the “world’s worst salesman”.

    I bought this 16 year old car and the PO had hit something with the bumper. Not hard enough to cause structural damage but it tore the fascia covering the bumper. Just cosmetic damage requiring a new fascia and paint.

    (OTOH what kind of door hinges are those? ;-) )

    Anyway I take it to a body shop that my family had dealt with in the past with satisfactory results.

    First question “Is this insurance or will you pay for it”

    Me: “I’m paying for it”

    A few minutes later a fellow, I’ll call Michael, strolls out with me to look at the car.

    He looks at the bumper and says “You’d be better off taking it to a Mom and Pop shop and let them just respray over it”.

    First Rule of sales: Qualify the customer.

    The guy didn’t have to look for me – I was there – wanting a price. Ready to buy.

    Second rule of sales: Ask for the sale.

    I left a bit perplexed and finally figured out the guy was too indifferent/lazy to even look up the parts and labor costs. Either that or they were used to gouging the insurance company and knew someone paying out of their own pocket might object.

    I’ve written them off my list.

    Whether in the future I have an insurance claim….or not.

    And I do have my eye on the wrecking yard although this particular fascia was good for only 2 years out of a 12 year production run – and then finding the color…odds not good.

  2. Not door hinges, Bill – but latch plates. Which, considering that they are one small piece of metal, with a hole for a screw on either side … it’s logical. And using the one with the flange on the part where the panel curves under … genuis, pure genius.

    I did call one of my redneck neighbors to look at it, as he was working on his own vehicle in the driveway, when I went past with a camera. I think that he is still laughing. My dear old Dad would still be laughing about this. He was fanatical about bodywork. I can still hear him cursing when a light rain came down and spoiled the repaint on the VEV (the Very Elderly Volvo) when I decided that I had enough of driving a bright pumpkin-orange colored car, and Dad and I repainted it over my Christmas leave in about 1992.)

  3. This brings up the subject of “dirty jobs.” Also this. I have been working on stuff since I was five years old and hit my thumb with a hammer. My father could fix almost anything and I have built a lot of stuff, including parts of boats and remodeled bathrooms. I haven’t built a house but have a fair idea how to go about it.

    How anyone could not know how to fix that with some fiberglass, at least ! Women don’t appreciate guys who can fix things. At least until they don’t have one around.

  4. Mike K – I love guys who can fix things! That is almost my first prerequisite for a crush! Guys who are competent with tools and stuff! (well, there are some other considerations, of course. But fixing things – that’s at the top of my list. And not lets get into the crush that I had on the auto mechanic who looked after the VEV at one point…)

  5. Sgt – everyone – one of the best resources is to just go to an auto paint store – I am sure 3M – for one – makes literally hundreds of kinds of adhesives, of which dozens are used in the auto body industry.

    Just as an example – I installed a new hood pad to my old car – the pad material, designed to absorb heat and noise, will over the years, start to crumble.

    3M has 2 different adhesives for this – that keep the new pad secure to the hood aren’t affected by heat.

    Anyway your redneck neighbor verifies my belief that most are pretty car-savvy.

    You can still make a cheap – temporary repair without it getting on the Internet for millions to laugh at ;-)

  6. Mike – Sgt – interesting article in The Atlantic

    However I would say under the genre “fix things” are a whole bunch of sub headings. Some guys are natural at it. All or most of the sub headings.

    I have a friend since childhood who, at 16, rebuilt a relatively simple I6 engine for his old Chevy pickup. He always liked to work with his hands and at age 30 or so decided he’d better get a trade.

    Learned to be a plumber, and today he works on his own (workman’s comp is too crazy in CA to hire people – at least for him) – he makes 6 figures mostly putting in plumbing in new construction.

    Me, I’m fairly adept at maintaining cars – but rebuilding an engine would be stretching it.

    Changing shocks, even transmissions, no problem. I got a 16 year old MB SL and if I didn’t plan on doing a lot on my own, it would be prohibitive having what all needs to be done professionally done. Which is why one sees a lot of old run-down (and out) MBs.

    Two things (in addition to the bumper – new hydraulic cylinders in the roof lift mechanism – buying the 12 new ones and professionally having them done – $4K-$6K – doing it yourself with rebuilt ones (with a better O-Ring material – last longer – than the factory – $600.

    New Gas Shocks – $2,000 or $550.

    That has been one of my motivations, in addition to the satisfaction of standing back with pride saying “I fixed this”.

    But then carpentry for me is a challenge – Or plumbing.

    I got a new valve for the toilet and took it back to Home Depot – the instructions to me were not understanble.

    Install the flow nut to the gizwidget, or some such gibberish.

    I am sure my friend would laugh it this.

  7. My mechanical “there’s a hole in daddy’s arm” is my 93 Lincoln Mark VIII. 20 years old now. I do love it and it tests my ability to source stuff as well as my mechanical prowess but it’s my hobby.

    I always fix my own stuff if I can and cars I have had to fix since I was young.

  8. That’s stylin PenGun. I knew a guy (when I was a teenager) on the southside of Chicago that had a Cadilac fifteen or twenty years old, primer and rust on the outside, with a 2×6 bumper. Engine was tuned to perfection and the interior was immaculate. I thought (and still think) it was the perfect urbanmobile.

  9. “Mike – Sgt – interesting article in The Atlantic ”

    What was really interesting to me was when I was applying for the surgery residency, only one professor asked me if I worked with tools or played a musical instrument. I have seen a lot of bad surgeons, many of whom had poor eye-hand coordination. It was pretty obvious that surgery had been chosen for other reasons than liking to work with their hands. Some of them were famous professors, probably a higher percentage than the general run of surgeons. Athletes are also good prospects, often choosing orthopedics.

    In the age of Obama, those interested in surgery are far fewer, partly because 60% of medical students are now women and partly because of the hours. Twenty years ago, a surgeon in San Francisco told me she did not know a surgeon in that city under 50.

  10. Mike K – it is a shame that so many look down on anyone working with their hands (surgeons exempted I’m sure) – but the country wouldn’t run without them. And within that skill, applicable to surgery I am sure, is – give a choice of a few tools that can do the job, knowing the “best one”.

    Had an old (now late) friend I’d call a master mechanic – and among other things, showed me how to really use a simple device – a pry bar.

    Or as another experienced mechanic once said “mechanics is 50% knowing how to intelligently apply force”

  11. “Or as another experienced mechanic once said “mechanics is 50% knowing how to intelligently apply force”

    My final hammer, 30lb cast dumbbell. Very gently, tap tap tap.

  12. I’m hoping that’s a slapdash job for the sole purpose of keeping it street legal. As if there was an inspection date fast approaching and once finances allow a legit job will be done.

    Funny picture!

  13. It’s a beater, maintained for the use of several teenagers in the household across the street from where I live. It could be that it was fixed just barely to pass inspection. But the condition it is in generally is pretty awful, for a neighborhood where the usual car ranges from brand-spanking-new to well-kept but older models.

  14. LOL, I converted a piece of door hardware, a steel plate with holes in it, and a few suction cups into a mount for my radar detector. The door hardware had just the right thickness to slip into the slot built into the detector, the right “size” that I only needed to grind it a little bit to make it the right width, and was malleable enough yet stiff enough to put into yet hold the curved shape I needed to go from level — to the exact angle of the windshield /

    I put some screws into the plate and the mount to connect them, then used a drill to make a couple extra just-right-sized holes to keep the three suction cups in place (thinking of adding some suction cups below, too, but haven’t done that yet — it just has three top for mounting. The lower ones aren’t needed to support the weight, but to keep the bottom of the plate from chattering against the glass.


    Don’t DIS the door hardware, man! It’s great stuff!! :-D

  15. }}} How anyone could not know how to fix that with some fiberglass, at least !

    That’s not the question. That fix could have taken as little as 20-30 mins, tops, and he may have had the parts on hand. Fiberglass, you have to go out and get it (not everyone keeps bondo around the house), then apply it, then not use it until it’s sufficiently cured. Then sand and paint it, really. A few hours at the least. If it’s a true beater, who cares how it looks?

    No, there are two mindsets at work here — one is the brute-force notion: “Do what works, nothing more is required“, and the finesse notion: “Do it right, every time.”

    Me, I tend to believe in both. One thing I learned from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance — many thought processes devolve into two basic modes of operation, and people tend to ram everything into the one they personally favor. Engineers can’t dance, because it makes no rational sense. And Artists hate technology, because it doesn’t work like it “feels” it ought to (yes, those are generic statements not applicable to all Artists or all Engineers).

    Beware your own natural tendency to shoehorn everything into a single solution process. There is no “one size fits all” solution process in the universe.

    If this car is ever going to be made to Look Good by the owner, then the fiberglass solution does make some sense. But if they don’t care about it as anything other than pure, unadulterated transport, then The Fix Is Good Enough if it works, and it sounds as though this one does.

    US$.02 < — Mine, and worth EVERY penny. ;-)

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