Question of the Week: What is your greatest hack?


This was way back when I was in high school.We,3 buddies and our girls,went to the Indiana sand dunes in our piece meal race cars of the day.a '55 Chevy 210 with a Vette motor, a '56 Plymouth with a 270 V8 Hemi and the my buddies pride and joy and cream of the crop, a '58 Chevy Impala 348 converted from Turbo Glide to an sycro 3 speed with air suspension only in the front end(I had removed the rear bags already).On the way home we were lucky enough to get three toll booths straight across at the same time.It was a dream come true! Well, you know what happened next…The '55 Chevy took the lead, the '58 Chevy was next and I was in the last coming out of the gate when the '58 pulled right across my lane and went for the right shoulder of the road.
Basically, he had broken the mount for the air compressor for the air suspension and because it was oil feed by the engine through a solid steel line from the engine, it was spraying engine oil out all over the place and the generator was no longer turning because it was on the same v-pulley as the air compressor so there was no tension for the drive belt.
The fix was crazy but it worked.It was getting dark so he needed lights so he needed the generator.Well we had plenty of empty beer, ops, no soda cans in the car so I took out the ole tire iron and smashed them in against the generator and loose air compressor (luckily the drive belt was OK) to get some belt tension to drive the generator.The next issue was the engine oil squirting out of the oil supply fitting with no line in it any more.I removed a screw from the aluminum step sill on the door frame and it was a perfect fit for the remnant of steel line and the hole in that fitting.The compressor did not seize up but the car was nose down but it made it home.The air bags and the compressor came out the very next week end…I got may more like that but I hope you enjoyed that one.Remember to keep the rubber side DOWN! Grumpy:+1:


Two of my favorite hacks. 1984 BMW 318…wiper arm to motor bushing failed. In rain of course. Few tools. No parts. Managed to get the cover off. Used a rubber band to hold the wiper linkage into the motor. Worked like a champ. Second favorite hack, which I still use…on older Chevy heater controls, if lubing or changing the heater control cables the sheet metal snap retainer often breaks when removed. I take inward toothed lock washers and push them on as a retainer. Works perfectly. They are cheap and in everybody’s fastener bucket. Great Question Topic.


I had a “79” Mustang and the heater core had a hole in it, turn it on and a mist of antifreeze would fill the car. I could get the skin off (dash) but I couldn’t get at it thru the skeleton frame. I sat back, had a beer and thought what can I do. Needed heat in Chicago. The air conditioning wasn’t working so I figure take the heater hoses and connect them to the A/C coil. And Bam; heat ; Worked perfect… Drove it that way til I sold the car .


in my impoverished student days, I pulled the transmission and transfer case in my 1946 Jeep to replace the seals. After the repairs, putting the transmission and transfer case back would have been lots easier with a hard floor and transmission jack, but I was working on grass and dirt. Using 2 - 4x4 sheets of thin plywood from a packing crate, 200 marbles and 3 jacks (bottle hydraulic or scissors) a few trim strips to keep the marbles on the bottom sheet and somewhat spaced out, did the trick. With three jacks it could be tilted anyway needed and the marbles allowed placing everything on the plywood and sliding it under the Jeep as well as pushing it forward into the clutch when raised and in line.


You I owned a 73 Datsun 1200. The car gave off this obnoxious ring if you started the car with the drivers seat belt unbuckled. I traced down a micro switch with a lever actuator that made this happen. I removed the switch from the mount, wrapped a rubber band around switch to permanently make the switch. I outsmarted Datsun. No more obnoxious ring. A year or so later, driving down the road with my wife and her parents, and the obnoxious ring started. I cautioned everyone to be calm and pulled into a gas station. I asked if they had a rubber band I could borrow. Odd, but they found one. Located the switch, rubber band had broken, wrapped a new rubber band around the switch, obnoxious ring over.


I had a 1971 Lotus Europa and the wife and I were taking a ride when the clutch petal broke. The clutch cable ran through the cockpit on the floor next to the tunnel. When I had to stop I would grab the cable and up to disengage the clutch and let it back down to go and shifted without the clutch when rolling.


I had to make a little circle in the top of the paper clip so it would keep contact with the coil wire contact pin in the distributor cap. It ran like shit, but it got me where I need to go.


While doing a rally in a 1959 Turner 850S, the fuel system quit working. After some under-bonnet examination, we took the carb float bowls apart, and sure enough, one of the floats had sunk to the bottom of the bowl. It had a hole in it. I am very myopic, so peering at the brass float bowl without my glasses, I found the hole. We shook the gas out of the hole and yes, I admit, we had to suck the last of it out. To keep the float from sinking again, I jammed a wood splinter in the hole, put the float bowl back together, and the contraption lasted the entire remainder of the two day rally, and a third day to boot, getting home. The splinter swelled slightly from being wet in the gasoline. From that day forward, I packed toothpicks in my onboard tool kit.


This was my father’s hack he taught me back in the 60’s.
When a wheel is frozen to a hub, from rust or corrosion on alloy wheels, it can seem to be impossible to remove the wheel without damage. No amount of penetrating oil or torch heat can seem to work. My dad learned the hack in the 1930’s. Loosen the offending wheel lug nuts. Jack up the car. Loosen the lug nuts further, 1/4" to 1/2". Drop the car down. Now jack the opposite side of the car. This puts a sideways pressure on the wheel.
Just used this technique once again on a car I just bought. Alloy wheels all hopelessly stuck. Some had to sit like this overnight, but all broke free using this method.


@mesievel - That is a new twist on the “loosen and short drive” method that always made me too nervous. I like it!


While driving my 1967 XKE Roadster from LA home to SF Bay area very late at night in the mid 1970’s the headlights began to dim until it was obvious that the Lucas charging system was failing.
I pulled over on HWY 101 in farmland about 50 miles from nowhere. I inspected my alternator using an old flashlight that was also very dim. To my surprise, the brush holder in the alternator was easily removable. The brushes were shot, it was 2 AM, my wife was starting to panic, The closest Jaguar dealer was 200 miles away in San Jose and obviously closed.
I somehow remembered dissecting a flashlight battery in science class in Jr Hi and the carbon rod that was found inside. I sacrificed my flashlight and went to work on the battery with my pocket knife, I carved out some crude brush extenders from the carbon. After about 20 minutes it was all back together, I had to push start the car and happily had lights and charging! I made it home easily and then to the Jaguar dealer the next day for genuine replacement alternator brushes.


Like @bruce.e.bennett I have an Alfa hack. When I bought my 1987 Spider the rear transmission mount was shot. It’s press-fit into the transmission housing. The service manual procedure is to remove the transmission and use a special bench tool to swap it out. The Alfa Forums, however, speak of an excellent shortcut. A 1.5" pipe cap from the hardware store is the exact diameter of the mount. With a 2-arm puller and the cap centered, I pushed out the old mount in about 15 minutes. Maybe the only thing you can do on that car that fast!


Did the same broken wipers trick with an extension cord coming home from a Springstien concert it Toronto to Hamilton and broken throttle cable in city traffic at rush hour,also extension cord on my 72 Chevelle Wagon with 4speed Muncie ,arms were tired when I got home I tell ya


What in the Hell is a “hack”?


@timbonmi01 - A hack in this context refers to doing the right thing the wrong way. On-the-fly repairs usually fall into this category due to the lack of available tools or parts.


A few years back my boss needed a new fuel pump for his M3. He couldn’t get one locally and had to order it. In order to keep driving his car while waiting for the new one he managed to get a fuel pump that he had laying around from an Oldsmobile minivan to work in his M3. I was so amazed by his ability to create a temporary repair that I had to 3D print him this badge of honor for his car.


In 1988 I went on a camping trip with others to a friends cabin in the Pa mountains. They had water pump problems at the cabin so I took an old pump for repair. Don’t remember who, but someone laid the pump behind my 1983 Honda Accord. Went to back up and ran over the pump and punched a quarter size hole in the gas tank. Had a friend drive me to the hardware store. Bought a molly bolt, a few large washers and some putty epoxy. Mushed that baby up in the tank and screwed it tight. That plug was still there about 80,000 miles later when I gave the car to my niece.


Which reminds me…!!! My dad was also a great “hacker” and I recall that on a particularly long road trip one summer, he cut a piece of wood and jammed it in between the cushion of the front seat and the gas pedal as a sort of “cruise control” for our old Dodge. he had to whittle the end down to just the right length to make it hold the car at the right speed, but after a few tries it worked like a champ. All that you had to do to disengage the cruise control was to pull up on the piece of wood.


@johnvukovichjr - That is a hack that no one should try to replicate though.


On my way home from a car show I lost the fan belt on my 65 Corvette. Being summertime the temp was climbing fast. I pulled into an empty restaurant parking lot and parked the car. All auto parts stores were closed and cell phones were only for the rich and famous. I walked about a half mile to Wal-Mart and started looking around for a “Hack” to get me home. No way was I leaving the car in the lot overnight. I decided to use panty hose for a belt. I bought a pair, cut off one leg and put it on the car tying as small of a knot as I could. I started the car and the fan was turning. I gave it a little gas and it spun off. I realized that 900 RPM was the maximum for a pany hose fan belt. Got it home safe and sound at 190 degrees. That was 25 years ago and the remaining one leg panty hose is still in the glove box. Everytime we get in the car I tell my wife that my one legged girlfriend left her panty hose in the car. She thought it was funny 25 years ago… now it is just an annoying comment.