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Too close for comfort - if you work on cars, please read.

blu_fuz

New Member Classroom vulture
Joined
Sep 25, 2002
Messages
16,025
Location
Waupun, WI
Had a very close call last night my friends and could have had a very different and horrible outcome.


Ever read news titles like this "mechanic killed while working under car" ? Matter of fact, just happened to a well known racer/mechanic/business owner a few months ago around where I live.


My brother (SLVRFRST) car has had some issues lately that I was wanting to help with to ease the pain of paying a dealer/shop to fix a misfire and change out his alternator. I picked up his SVT on Friday, June 3rd with truck/trailer for a 2 hour round trip to get it to my house.

Decided to take on the task of swapping the alternator out at about 5pm last night.

Usually I get the entire car up on 4 jack stands before I crawl under to work on anything. This time I blocked the rear wheels on both sides front and back of the rear tires. Jacked up only the front and placed 2 jack stands under the front subframe just ahead of the control arms.

Got the passenger front wheel off, took the tie rod nut off and popped it out of the knuckle. No problems, everything smooth as silk.

Gathered the extensions, wrench, etc. that I needed under the car and layed them in a tray I have and slid them under the engine area. Layed down on my padded mat with slick back on it.



This is where •••• got crazy.....

I always pull myself on the sliding mat going from right-to-left by grabbing onto the exhaust and the ridges on the bottom of the car. Slid under, again with nothing out of the ordinary going on, looked over at my tools and just grabbed the socket wrench..... one of the jack stands made a creek noise and I see the car starting to roll backwards off the stands with me 75% under the car!

I don't really know how I managed to grab onto the exhaust before the car was completely off the stands. The car stopped after sliding backwards over 4", one stand touching the subframe by just a point of the stand saddle and the other stand with the subframe sort of floating over it but not touching.


So, now what? I'm laying under the car, it's ready to fall and kill me, and I have my hands on the exhaust. No phone on me, wife in the house, I am freaking out. Decided I had to get out on my own and gently let go of the exhaust watching for any movement of the car and as soon as I let it go I was wiggling my way out from under it.


Wow, I seriously had many things go through my head in that 10 seconds I was under there wondering if I was going to make it out alive.


I went inside, Mrs Blu (8 mos pregnant) asked me if I was ok with concern on her face. I told her I didn't want to say what happened but told her to put her hand on my heart..... she thinks I'm having a heart attack ( I'm 27 btw) and I was shaking like crazy.


Explained what happened and what the other result would have been. We cried it out for a sec and calmed down, went back into the garage and showed her how close I was to not making it out.




I'm posting this because a lot of you are working on your own cars. Please be careful - saving a couple hundred dollars isn't worth losing your life over so make sure you have many safety nets in place. I did eventually get back under the car after an hour, but now with 6 jack stands and my wife sitting by reading her book.


I love my wife, my new soon-to-be daughter, my family, friends, and you guys. I would hate to lose any of you over something like this.



On a good note, the alternator swap only took 1 hour this time!


-blu
 

Jaybird

Veteran CEG'er
Joined
Jan 28, 2007
Messages
943
Glad your ok.

I will think about this next time I am under the vehicles...for sure.
 

D.Acker

Owner/LUCA’s *****
Admin
Joined
Apr 1, 2000
Messages
5,757
Location
Waterman, IL
Holy crap Joe! Glad you're ok, WGL and CEG just wouldn't be the same if you weren't here. Not to mention that many of us would be down one very excellent friend.

Do you mind if I post this on another forum?
 

todras

Pretty fly for a white guy *cowbell*
Joined
May 29, 2000
Messages
13,188
Location
Grand Rapids, MI
Geez! Surprised I haven't had a close call yet. Glad you're ok (well as much as you can be hehe) Someone aroud here died a few months ago too from the same thing. Wonder how many a year get killed from this?
 

TGO

King of the OFT
Joined
Jun 29, 2000
Messages
10,034
Location
Staten Island NY USA
i honestly don't like laying under a car. the only time i feel "comfortable" is if it's on ramps. i hate being under a car with jackstands. and if i do use them, i keep a jack right next to the one near where i'll by laying. put the weight of the car down on the stand but keep the jack just touching the car. this way if one shifts the other will hopefully stay sturdy.
 

mnewxcv

Hard-core CEG'er
Joined
May 9, 2009
Messages
2,029
Location
Cape Cod, MA
joe glad youre ok!

do you know exactly where the movement was that made it unstable? was it at the wheel chocks or the jackstands, and what triggered it?
 

FFE

Veteran CEG'er
Joined
Sep 3, 2000
Messages
753
Location
North Mankato MN
Dually Noted

Just to think I was under my car last fall probably for a total of 12 hrs (first time clutch) I had 4 jackstands on the front and the rears blocked but still probably just as dangerous.
 

blu_fuz

New Member Classroom vulture
Joined
Sep 25, 2002
Messages
16,025
Location
Waupun, WI
Do you mind if I post this on another forum?

Go ahead Dave - just reminding people can go a long way.




I appreciate you guys reading this. I would be tore up if this happened to someone I know here.


The failure was the wooden blocks and a faulty e-brake. I have no idea why the bocks slid on the concrete instead of wedging under the tire. I wasn't even putting any pressure in that direction :shrug:...... My garage floor is level and was clean.
 

AndrewM6097

CEG'er
Joined
Jan 3, 2008
Messages
131
Location
Worcester, Ma
WOW.... when working on the front end of the car i usually only use 2 jack stands on the subframe and keep the jack under there also. I usually shake the •••• out of the car for a little piece of mind. But hot damn! I think i may get the whole car up from now on. Sometimes before i get under there i get a weird feeling and hold off for a few minutes. I remember a while back my dad was under the front end of his 87 cougar, got out from underneath to get some tools and the car came crashing down. Dont know exactly how that happened but he was one lucky SOB. So glad youre okay man.
 

RoadiJeff

Veteran CEG'er
Joined
Nov 7, 2002
Messages
669
Location
St. Louis, MO
Thank you for that story and glad things turned out okay. I have been known to do a quick oil change and not use two jack stands or set the e-brake when I'm tired and just want to get it done in a hurry. I won't anymore.
 

rouar

fixer
Admin
Joined
Mar 18, 2001
Messages
7,067
Location
Nashua NH
I'm glad you're safe! Scary to think that even with adequate precaution anything can happen.
 

tigerbalm

Veteran CEG'er
Joined
May 6, 2006
Messages
649
Location
Aiken, SC
I'm glad you got out fine.

I've had a close call before and it wasnt even jacked up in the air. The air bag suspension on my lincoln decided it wanted to drop about an inch and a half with me under it.
 

79mustang351w

Hard-core CEG'er
Joined
Nov 13, 2010
Messages
1,254
Location
Bucyrus, OH
Yeah this is a good reminder of what could happen. Glad your okay Joe! I am under cars and stuff alot....do bodywork by day....work on dads race car, my mustang, csvt, and truck, and whatever else at night from customers. We just thank God your still here man....wouldnt be the same without ya!
 

KerryKool

Hard-core CEG'er
Joined
Sep 29, 2004
Messages
2,005
Location
Tampa, FL
Last time I was under my car I was changing my starter(Zetec) and the oil pan was hovering right above my chest. Very sketchy but it up on jack stands with the e-brake and wedges, so I had peace of mind. You're my boy blu! Don't scare us like that again.
 

CSVT#49

Addicted CEG'er
Joined
May 28, 2004
Messages
6,766
Location
Andover, MN
holy crap Joe! Glad you got out of there OK with no injuries. I knew a guy at my first job that did the same thing but was working on a old 80's blazer. He didn't get out in time, but lucky for him the truck was stopped by the rotor and didn't come down all the way and he just received a bruise on his leg because it was pinched... very, very lucky. Crazy thing is 90% of the time all I do is caulk a rear tire and set the park brake once I get it up in the air using only two jack stands up front. My only safety net is a jack stand I bring with me where I am working and I place it near by. That way if the car falls I will have that jack stand to buy me a few more seconds to get out.
 

Beans

Addicted CEG'er
Joined
May 4, 2006
Messages
6,753
Location
Plymouth,MI
WOW glad you made it, glad i never had a close call like that. On top of that i would have felt guilty for telling you it was the alternator! :( (Did it fix the issue btw?)
 
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