If you’re feeling somewhat adventurous, there are a number of DIY solutions at your disposal when simple repairs are needed to get your rig up and running. Thankfully, Mike Allen of Popular Mechanics has a few offbeat auto fix-it ideas you can use.
Offbeat auto fix No. 1: Trouble with a fussy fuse box
Allen tells of one driver who found himself stranded on a mountainside after his 4×4 suddenly died. A passerby with some automotive knowledge looked under the hood and paid particular attention to the fuse box. What the stranded motorist learned is that relay fuses found in automotive fuse boxes are frequently alike, making a relay fuse swap possible. Each fuse is connected to a different electronic function of the car. One look in a vehicle owner’s manual shows which relay corresponds to which function. In addition, this color-coded chart is often reprinted on a decal affixed to the fuse box. In this case, the fuel pump relay had gone dead. The assistant swapped the fuse from a less important function (rear window defogger, perhaps) into the fuel pump slot.
Offbeat auto fix No. 2: Toast your radiator with eggs and diet soda
Hole in the radiator? Allen recommends you crack a raw egg and put it in the radiator. Don’t use the overflow tank, but the actual radiator. The idea is that the egg white will sink down and plug the hole temporarily. If your radiator hole caused a low fluid level and you’ve forgotten your emergency jug of water and coolant, perhaps your sweet tooth can help. Topping off with diet soda (without sugar to clog the water pump) helps. Beer and iced tea will also work in a pinch. Just don’t make a habit of topping off with Fresca and Löwenbräu.
Offbeat auto fix No. 3: Taking your oil pan back to nature
Driving rough roads punishes your vehicle. If rock meets oil pan, a hole and subsequent oil leak can be the result. But if you’re in rough country, you can find the solution out there. Allen recommends using a twig to plug the hole. Using your Bowie knife (you’re in the wild, so you probably have one), whittle it into shape and hammer it into the oil pan puncture. Then cut the excess sticking out so that the stick doesn’t catch another rock as you roll back toward civilization for more permanent repairs. If the hole drained the crankcase and you need a top off, add some water. According to Allen, “The oil-pump pickup is not on the exact bottom – the remaining oil will float on top of the water.” Be cautious with this technique – it’s only for emergencies. If you can easily walk to a store and buy motor oil, that’s the more desirable option.
Offbeat auto fix No. 4: Cleaning up that gas tank hole
This is a variation on the last problem, but this time Allen discusses a hole in the gas tank. Use that Bowie knife from the previous example and carve a chunk off a bar of soap. Hammer the hole-sized chunk in and get to town as quickly as possible. If you need fuel to get out of there, it is not advisable to siphon gas like they used to in old “Dukes of Hazard” episodes. If you can’t get your hands on fuel, get ready to either push it or leave it behind and hike to the closest garage.
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Fixing the oil pan and clearing away the foliage: