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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

How I ended up getting hosed on The Big Road Trip, even after checking my hoses

Last week, I wrote about preparing to drive my 1979 Euro BMW 635CSi 2000 miles round trip to The Vintage, the annual BMW gathering in Asheville, North Carolina. Turns out there's more to the story. As I wrote, I found a badly abraded fuel hose and two heater hoses that were as soft as raw sausages and ballooning almost comically over their clamps.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/the-hack-mechanic/how-i-ended-up-getting-hosed-on-the-big-road...
20 REPLIES 20
hyperv6
Racer

Rule #1 make sure before a trip to replace the needed Parts on on old car if you are not trailering.

Rule #2 do not change these part or other major repair the night before you leave.

Do it a month before and drive it a bit. Too often I have seen or had a new part fail.

I had a new car with nearly no miles lose a hose on a trip to a mall. It blew the upper hose and lost coolant as soon as I stopped at the store. There were no repair shops or even parts stores around.

It was late on a Saturday as I sat and considered my options. I did have a screw driver so I took the hose off. I thought about 1 mike away was a Sears auto center that might be open. I took the hose and walked.

Once I got there they were open but the guy at the desk said he had no belt for the recent new model.

I asked to look at his hoses. I chose one and asked for Scissors. I cut about 8” off and said there you do have a hose after all. I bought some antifreeze installed the hose and drove home. We sold that car with that hose.

I have had thermostats new fail after replacement and even this year I failed my own rules with a new radiator cap on a long trip but I was lucky the leak was small.
I did not expect a failed cap but it happened.

So it is best to repair and give it a week around town before really testing things. Not a sure thing but it can help on bad new parts.



Boxerracing
New Driver

After a 50 year career in automotive, both retail and with VW, BMW, and Honda, rule #2 is the most important rule of all for an older vehicle.
DUB6
Specialist

   Good story, and I sympathize with the roadside-repair-caused-hand-burning!  Been there and done that, as I suspect many of us have.  The simple fact is that things (to use a more PC word) happen.  Yeah, maybe you coulda/shoulda/woulda changed those hoses the night before departing.  And maybe one of those - or a different one - would have split.  Or maybe not.  Fate plays all kind of dirty tricks on us.  The thing is, you noticed the temp rising and you were at least semi-prepared to fix things.  Most people are not (which is why tow companies love being located near Interstate Highways).

   Maybe a more important question is why you waited until getting ready for a 2400 mile trip before noticing the water balloons in the engine compartment?  That stuff doesn't happen overnight.  Regular, close inspection of hoses is imperative - not just when heading out for a road trip.  In fact, I'm a proponent of changing out hoses on a regular interval, regardless of how they "look".  Rubberized items are consumable, just like belts, oil, and other fluids - they get old and especially weakened by heat.  It seems to me that the expense is worth it to change them all every few years vs. the potential (and sometimes very real) expense of a failure on a long trip!  🤔

ppointer
Detailer

Thanks for another great story!
Cornbinder
Detailer

Re-using a hose is like re-using T.P. or a condom - you shouldn't be that desperate and if you are, you'll regret it later. Even if "it looks pretty good", I always cut the end of any hose that I replace off a vehicle before I toss it, to avoid temptation and squelch my inner Pack Rat.
SLAVENDER
Intermediate Driver

Generally speaking I think you made a good quality decision to replace the hoses with what you had. Good quality decisions don’t always give the desired outcomes but they do improve your odds.
When I’ve taken my 77 280z on road-trips I like to daily drive it for a month ahead of time to shake it down. Since it is rarely driven I always seem to find something that needs done. My road trips have been without problems, though it is always an adventure…
CitationMan
Gearhead

I’m glad Rob isn’t the Hack Lexus Mechanic, otherwise we would only get to read his wonderful writing once every few years.

thehackmechanic
Advanced Driver

My secret is out!
DUB6
Specialist

@thehackmechanic 

   Just today, as I was driving along, a really pretty BMW shot past me in the fast lane.  Sounded good (my window was down).  I thought, "Say, that's a nice rig - wouldn't mind having one of those in the stable."  My pickup wasn't able to catch up enough to even spot the model - I just barely glimpsed the little blue and white circular badge on the rear deck before it got out of sight.

   Then I came home and read the posts by @MATTMERICA and @CitationMan , and I quickly ditched my plan to do some research to see if I could ID the car I saw, then look around for a deal on one.

CitationMan
Gearhead

@DUB6, my current daily driver for the past 6 years has been a 2007 BMW 3 Series AWD wagon, and it’s been a wonderful car, especially on the many one day 700 mile runs I made in the process of moving from Illinois to North Carolina. However, since I’m not a hack mechanic, the repair bills on my trusty steed are no fun. My next car will be a used old man sedan, because no one wants big sedans anymore, and they depreciate a lot. And I’m going to get one of those license plate frames that says:
I’M RETIRED, GO AROUND ME!
DUB6
Specialist

Atta Boy!

MATTMERICA
Technician

Every time I read the Hack Mechanic I realize just how little I know, and how lucky I have been with my bavarian cream puffs. Thank god I have several people that fit the Jose and Bob roles.
SteveNL
Detailer

This is a story to which I can relate for a number of reasons. In my younger and poorer days, I often drove old cars on long, interstate trips out of necessity and made a number of roadside repairs.
But this year I also limped home a number of times with my '87 325is. I've owned the car for six years and have done major refurbishment on the car. Every rubber and plastic part that I removed during service was replaced under the theory that it will never be easier to find or less expensive than now. I've attended to all of the details on my E30, but I guess not all enough, because I still can't trust it to make a long trip.

This year it failed on me three times and forced me to limp home. The first was due to a leaking slave cylinder. The second time my rear transmission seal started leaking a lot of gear lube. Recently, the car developed a significant coolant leak, although all of the hoses are new, as is the radiator and water pump. These M20 engines are so crowded up front, that I can't see where the leak is coming from, despite the fact that it's substantial. For now, I just parked it in the back of my shop. When I get over my discouragement, I'll put the car up in the air, pull the belly pan and see if the leak can be spotted from below the car. Otherwise, I'll just park it for the year and look for the leak next Spring when I strip the front of the engine to replace the timing belt.

Thankfully, I also own an NB Miata, which never breaks, never leaks, never leaves me on the side of the road. These Miatas never fail. I love driving the BMW, but always grateful to have the NB for back up.
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

Does this make you a hoser? :^)

Hoses seem to be one of the easiest points of failure that get missed because they looked good.
cultleader
Intermediate Driver

All cars with locking steering wheels are interlocked so that you can’t lock the steering wheel unless it’s in park. You didn’t say if this beamer is an automatic but knowing you it’s probably a manual. Some manuals are not interlocked. The manufacturers assume that if you’re intelligent enough to drive a manual then you don’t need the interlock. But if it’s an automatic you don’t have to be careful to not lock the steering wheel.
DUB6
Specialist

I'm not sure, but I think @cultleader just hinted that if you have an automatic, you're viewed as less intelligent!  😂

Tinkerah
Engineer

Hack trick for climbing temp gauges: the MINUTE you wonder if you're heading into a coolant issue crank the heater on full hot no matter how uncomfortable it makes you and watch the gauge. As long as it's blowing hot it's helping to dissipate heat from the motor; the moment it blows cold shut it the engine off, it's dry. Be aware temp sensors (at least from the vintage I'm familiar with) won't read hot air; if they're not submerged they won't show "hot".
MoparMarq
Advanced Driver

That theory worked fairly well on my Supra with the 7M motor that was notorious for blowing head gaskets. When the heater went cold, check the temp gauge. But the temp gauge would still indicate hot with hot air coming out of the head, so usually pulling over after a cold heater was mandatory. Although the last time it happened, I had already resolved to replace the engine with a 2JZ-GE (NA) engine, so I didn't care about the 7M engine anymore. When the HG finally went (with a demonstrative cloud of white and blue smoke), I simply kept driving until I found a decent place to pull over without getting knocked off the bridge into the river at night. Good riddance to that engine.
sorrktm
Intermediate Driver

Well, you were broke down about 10 minutes from my place but I'm not a Beemer guy so I couldn't have helped except to guide you to a shop. But I can sympathize being an old British car driver ( now considering buying a mid 60's MGB) with a few "surprise" projects done as well. Had to change a fuel pump on 78 on my AH in December. Not my fondest memory of that car. No matter how much you prepare Murphy will always win.
Maestro1
Technician

hyperv6 has it right; whenever I take anything out of town I do what's necessary a week ahead of time and then drive it to see if it falls down, has any symptoms, failures, whatever.
I did the above with my old Chevrolets and everything went fine.