The worst story I have involves a Mustang.
I am an experienced shadetree mechanic. I have owned over 200 cars and have built several from the ground up. I had the chance to do this professionally when I was younger, as my stepfather is a heavy mechanic by trade, but I chose to keep it as a hobby.
I have owned around two dozen Fox Chassis Mustangs, so to say I am fairly well versed on them is a bit of an understatement.
My last one was the one that gave me the biggest headache.
I bought an `88 Mustang off of the proverbial old lady. Single owner, less than 80,000 on the odometer. Automatic, 2300 Lima four cylinder. All records, dealer serviced. I just wanted something to drive back and forth to work as I had a few other projects. I changed the timing belt, did a tune-up and bought a new alternator not long after I bought it. The car had a brand new exhaust system as well from the old one rusting out, however other than a few clearcoat finish issues, the car was flawless.
I drove the dog piss out of that car for a couple of years and then for no reason at all the front pump on the transmission locked up.
I wasn't worried. I had a parts car that was missing the engine. The parts car as an `89LX 5.0. I went to work and pulled the T-5 and the crossmember. I crawled inside and pulled the entire pedal assembly and clutch cable. I had an old five speed Ranger, so I took the flywheel, bellhousing, clutch and pressure plate.
The only thing I had to buy was the pilot bearing for the crank. Took me about an three hours to complete the swap.
I had a nice little five speed Mustang after that.
I took her off on her maiden voyage.
Only to hear a horrible whining.
So it was off to the parts store. I got a new Mustang specific flywheel (since the part number was different from the Ranger one) as well as an entire clutch set, that is what I get for cheaping out, right?
So I tear it all down, replace all the parts with the Mustang specific parts.
Off we go, down the road, with that horrible whining sound.
As I pulled back into the driveway there was a horrible grind, then a pop and suddenly the car wouldn't come out of second gear.
Out comes the tranny, off come the shifter, a nice solid thwack with a mallet and everything seems fine.
Put it all back together, and guess what? No second gear. None. Nothing. Can't even feel a detent for it.
Out comes the tranny, by this time it was a thirty minute job, drop the exhaust manifold, pop the drive shaft from the rear end, snap loose four bolts from the bell housing and pop four bolts from the crossmember, drop the whole assembly, knees on the nose, lower the crossmember and tailshaft onto your chest, roll out.
By this point I decided to tear the tranny apart. It was the only thing I hadn't replaced with brand new parts and thus it must be the culprit.
And boy oh boy was it.
Second gear was shredded, looked like one of those rubber dog toys, moved about three inches of the shaft. The fact that any gear would engage at all was a mystery.
What the hell could have happened? The tranny worked great five years ago when I parked the old car, pulled the engine and just left it sitting there held up with bailing wires. Without the rear driveshaft. Without anything keeping all the gear oil in it. Without thinking a single thought about doping the transmission when I reinstalled it after five years in the weather. With no gear oil in it.
Here I sat, an experienced mechanic, and I forgot one simple step that cost me nearly forty hours of my time, and a whole lot of money.
All over a $5 bottle of 90w gear oil.
I did a five speed swap in Chaos when I put her lower mileage engine in.
I didn't forget to dope the transmission.
Yoda for President