A Mechanic’s Rant

Another thought-provoking editorial from our friend and contributor Robert Morey of British Sports Car Consulting.

Dealing with the “non-car-collecting ” public is a mechanic’s nightmare. People who don’t understand cars make the worst customers, and thank heavens I don’t deal with them anymore!

Mechaic's Rant Dog

A typical scenario with these aberrant creatures would be a 110k mile “Luxmobile” driven in with a leaking water pump, the car showing no signs of ever having a service. The customer states,”I’ve been topping up the water for two months and now the damn thing’s overheating!” So, on goes the new water pump, a gallon of antifreeze and they are gone (ignoring your advice that 7k miles is too long to wait to change that sludge they call oil solidifying in the oil pan). They are back in a week screaming because it still loses water. A quick look and five minutes later, there you are trying to explain the leaking thermostat housing (made of plastic; what genius came up with that?!)

“It was not leaking last week !” And you grind your teeth thinking of how they would have reacted to that price quote last week, given the theatrics they displayed (the whole hand on the heart and stumbling backwards a bit was just too much, and I really don’t think it’s my problem your roof needed replacing last month).

Mechanic's shopAfter the water pump quote, and a very helpful comment they gave: “I’m sure it’s something simple,” you agree to “look for other potential leaks.”

Well, where to start!? How many hoses are there? What about the other plastic coolant pipes, the plastic radiator, etc?

You politely explain the cooling system had a lot less pressure when the pump was leaking the pressure away, straining its old parts the same way a kettle stops whistling when you relieve the pressure by squeezing the little trigger before you pour from it (a fabulous analogy lost on the automotive dim bulb focused on getting a free repair).

Having now cautiously suggested a few things, you hear the ungrateful wretch whine that the cigarette lighter stopped working right after you changed the taillight build and, “It wasn’t like that before!” So let me get this right. If you go into the grocery store and the next day your cholesterol is too high, they did it?

Sooooo I’m developing an admissions test to keep the trouble makers out, try it and see if YOU could get in?


  1. Name all four members of the Beatles.
  2. An “XKE” is…
    a) used in terrorist attacks
    b) a type of contraceptive
    c) one of the most desirable cars in the world
  3. “Spanners” are…
    a) the wide parts of a bridge
    b) the principal characters in a horror movie
    c) used to restart an S.U. fuel pump
  4. If you are too “knackered” to put the “hood” up in a “gusher” and you’ve just tossed the “caddywumpus” “nave plate” in the “boot” and opened a “brolly” having just pulled a “wobbly”, what has happened?
  5. In parable form and less than 900 words, make it clear why your classic car is “da bomb”.

So, how did you do?

Robert Morey
With over 40 years in the business, Robert Morey restores and maintains British cars. His restorations have won many awards and are in collections across the U.S., England, Japan and the Bahamas. Robert is compiling a book on owning British cars as both a business and a hobby. Robert and his wife Michele live in Charleston, South Carolina.


  1. I understand completely! Many years ago, I was helping out at a friend’s restoration shop in Boca Raton, Florida helping do a full brake job on a 66 MGB. The owner picks up the car, pays the bill and comes back screaming that we broke his radio while doing the brake job… Of course, the first thing I always do when doing brakes is to remove the radio, don’t you?

    • Now that is too funny. Everyone knows the brakes and radio are connected. Well, they are in so much as when your brakes are making noise then you have to turn up the radio. 😉

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