All Work and No Play
15 Strangest Things Mechanics Have Found in Cars
Think French fries on the floorboard and stinky gym shoes in the back seat of your car is bad? That’s nothing compared to what these mechanics have found!
A customer dropped off her vehicle on a hot summer Friday afternoon and said she would pick up Monday, recalls John Burkhauser, director of education at Bolt on Technology, maker of auto repair software. When she picked up her car, it was fixed, but she was dismayed when an awful stench came wafting out the door. “There sat the remainder of a half watermelon in plastic wrap,” Burkhauser says. “Being made mostly of water and baked for days at probably in excess of 140 degrees F, the watermelon was now a wobbling, plastic wrapped blob filled with a brown liquid ready to let loose at any moment. The customer realized she bought the melon for the weekend and accidentally left it behind.”
Kinky bootRoman Sigaev/Shutterstock
In preparation for an interview for a marketing manager of sex toy manufacturer, Gina Hutchings, of Bedford, U.K. had to peruse a lot of product catalogs for her presentation. After the interview, she tossed the sex toy catalogs in the trunk (or boot as the Brits call it) of her car and forgot about them. The next day, her car was due for an inspection and it was then she realized she left the catalogs in the boot. “The poor mechanics thought I had a serious sex addiction,” she recalls.
A hidden gemvarisastockphoto/Shutterstock
Eddie Kane, of Tadi Brothers in Los Angeles, has installed many backup cameras without too many surprises but one time a customer came in with a high-end sports car and he discovered a tiny treasure. “When I was starting to funnel the video cable from the front to back I noticed something shiny under the carpet. I found a large diamond ring. When the customer came back to pick up his car he couldn’t stop laughing. His wife had lost it and been looking for it for the last two weeks but only told her husband the day before because she was embarrassed,” Kane says. The customer was so excited he immediately Facetimed his wife and Kane got a nice tip!
Kane recalls another incident when he installed a parking and backup sensor at a customer’s house. The installs are normally done in the shop but this was an older gentleman whose car had been sitting in the driveway for at least a year. As he was removing the bumper he heard a weird rattle. Once it was completely off, he found the source of the noise: Acorns. Kane also found a stash of nuts in the glove compartment. That’s when he noticed a squirrel nearby who was watching in protest as his secret stash of acorns was removed. “Because the car sat unused for so long by a tree, the squirrel decided to use it as his secret hiding spot!”
Factory installed giftajcabeza/Shutterstock
Paul Allen of Newark, New Jersey grew up next to his dad’s auto repair shop. One day a customer came in with a brand new 1963 Ford Galaxy complaining of a banging noise, but only at certain times. The customer mentioned that the noise always started up when he left his house so they drove the car back to the house. When they drove up the steep driveway they heard the noise, a sliding sound followed by a loud thump. “Back in the shop, my Dad took the door panel off and found that a worker on the assembly line had left a gift inside of the driver’s side door—a lovely empty soda bottle. He got the deposit back on the bottle and called the bill paid,” says Allen.
Bill Bender, owner of Independent Motors in Boulder, Colorado, recalls a time back in the 1980s when a customer brought in his Datsun for repairs. “When we opened the hood, we discovered a strange aluminum foil configuration wrapped around the exhaust manifold. I called the customer about it he said it was how he prepared his meals. In fact, he was writing a car-cooking cookbook,” Bender says. Bender was so intrigued he got a recipe for “Denver to Colorado Springs Brisket” and tried it. “It turned out to be really good! He clearly knew what he was talking about, as odd of a specialty as that is.” Sadly, car-cooking days are pretty much of thing of the past now that there is more sophisticated access to exhaust manifolds.
When an expensive car like a Ferrari 360 Modena doesn’t start, it usually means a costly fix. “After some time performing the inspection, we found a section of wire, two feet long in shambles,” says Jesse Yuvali, Owner, Jesses Garage European Auto Repair. As it turns out, rats were the culprit. It went unnoticed because the car was rarely driven. Unfortunately, it took many hours to rebuild everything. “I’ll never forget the look on his face when he realized what these vermin had just cost him,” says Yuvali.
On a hot summer day, temps inside a car can easily rise above 100 degrees, which is one of the reasons your car is not a great place to leave things behind that can explode. Charlotte Allgood, franchise owner of Glass Doctor, a Neighborly Company in Dothan, Alabama shares a story about a customer who came in after the intense heat and pressure led to an explosion of hairspray that took out the entire back window of a car. Allgood recommends removing any and all aerosol cans from the car, no matter the season.
Something smells fishyLindsay Jubeck/Shutterstock
Brian Glastetter, an automotive mechanic and Tesla Technical Training Instructor in Dallas not-so-fondly remembers a time when an odor got his attention while doing a transmission repair. “It was the most horrendous punch-you-in-the-face smell you could ever imagine. I rolled down every window with little relief,” recalls Glastetter. He looked all around and discovered the source of the horrible odor in the back seat. “What I saw defies any logic. The source—a large pile of fish heads in the back seat baking in the 100-degree summer heat. Their eyes were bulging and goop was oozing down the sides of the cloth interior,” says Glastetter. He never got to meet the customer to find out why the dead fish were there.
A bag of cashisak55/Shutterstock
One of Glastetter’s colleagues, a technician was working behind the dash of a Lincoln when he found a brown paper bag with $60,000 tightly wedged behind the glove box. The tech took the brown paper bag to the lobby where the customer was waiting and encouraged him to take his “valuables” with him. The customer seemed puzzled so the technician brought him over to his car and showed him the bag of money and where he found it. The customer took one look at the bag and immediately remembered what it held. He laughed and said, “I thought this was stolen from me. I guess I killed that guy for nothing.”
The great escapeCattlaya Art/Shutterstock
When a dad sheepishly asks how much it will cost to find a snake in his wife’s car, it’s probably not going to end well. Glasetter says the snake escaped the son’s hands when they were driving home from a pet store. The father’s frantic search yielded no snake and his wife refused to drive the car. “We systematically removed the interior of the car beginning with the front and rear seats, center console, interior trim, and carpet, gingerly removing each piece not knowing if the serpent would suddenly greet us,” says Glasetter. The search didn’t produce a snake until the next day when another tech decided to look. Unfortunately, the snake met its fate and was coiled up tightly inside a floor ventilation duct.
Kibble stash279photo Studio/Shutterstock
A customer brought in a car to Auto Drs complaining the fan was making a noise before it stopped working completely. Mechanic Robert Hill checked the cabin air filters in the Mercedes-Benz, as small animals often get stuck there. When he did he found about two pounds of dog food there—and a rat in the fan motor! “When we went to pull it out, the rat took off running out of the car and thankfully out of our shop,” says Hill. It took more than two hours to clean the entire vent system of the dog food. “Needless to say the customer started checking his cabin air filter from then on.”
Cat pottyAfrica Studio/Shutterstock
Most oil changes are fairly quick and easy: You pull into the stall while mechanics work underneath you and within minutes you drive away. That wasn’t the case when Benjamin Jerew, mechanic turned freelance automotive writer, worked on a Toyota Previa, a mid-engine mini-van from the 1990s. The engine is actually under the seat and accessed through a small door panel in the floor. “After having lifted the vehicle and drained the oil, I put the van back on the ground and attempted to open the engine access cover. The seat wouldn’t tilt back far enough to open the panel, so I figured something must have been back there, but I wasn’t exactly expecting a litter box!”
Saturday night specialJan Mika/Shutterstock
Martin Monier, a mechanical engineer in Memphis, Tennessee got a little more than he bargained for when he bought a 1977 Chevy Monza Spyder. He took it for a spin and was surprised at how well it ran until some hard braking resulted in a bump on the back of his left heel. He didn’t see anything, but when he downshifted he saw a piece of wood was now lodged under the clutch pedal on the floor. Upon closer inspection, he saw more than a piece of wood. “The piece of wood was attached to a .25 caliber Raven Saturday Night Special, fully loaded but the magazine was rusted shut.” He took it the gun to the closest police station, informed them of the loaded status, and left them to dispose of it.
Former BMW mechanic, James Wilson, of Honolulu will never forget the late-model sedan that wouldn’t start. He performed some standard checks with no results so he and a few co-workers pushed it into the shop and lifted the sedan to get a closer look. The starter appeared to have a few extra wires attached that weren’t from the factory. Wilson followed the wires to see where they led. He certainly didn’t expect to see them leading to a detonator and three sticks of dynamite! The bomb squad evacuated the area and the FBI confiscated the car. Wilson is very grateful this “add-on accessory” didn’t function correctly! Next, read on for 14 shocking discoveries plumbers have found in pipes.