The chewing gum and spackle remedy.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 01, 1992

Dear Tom and Ray:

Since I consider myself a master mechanic, I decided to replace the thermostat on my '85 Escort myself. In the process, one of the three bolts on the thermostat housing sheared off in the block. My local garage was not able to extract it, and said the head would have to be removed so the bolt could be bored out. As it is now, with the bolt missing, I have a small leak around the housing. As I am loathe to invest $350 on a car with 100,000 miles and a dim future, can you suggest another remedy? Welding the housing to the block? Chewing Gum? Spackle? Anything?

TOM: Well, Greg, although chewing gum and spackle have shown great promise in independent laboratory tests, we really don't recommend them--or welding for that matter. Think about it. If you weld it, then ever have to fix it again, you're going to have to call in the Navy Seals for demolition work.

RAY: My guess is the reason your mechanic wants to take the cylinder head off is that he messed it up with his drill by accident. The broken bolt is steel, and the head is aluminum, and it's very easy for the drill to wander off course and drill out the head in the wrong place.

TOM: If you're lucky, you'll be able to take it to someone else who can carefully drill the bolt out and salvage the head.

RAY: But if it can't be salvaged, and another mechanic confirms that the head was damaged by errant drilling, than the first guy really ought to pick up the cost of the head repair.

TOM: It's an easy job to screw up--as my brother can attest--but your mechanic should have known that and warned you in advance. If he had, and you told him to go ahead and try it anyway, then you would be taking the risk. But since he failed to warn you, it's really his responsibility now. Good luck, Greg.

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