Keep It Simple, Moron

Or something like that.  A lesson that I’ve learned many times is to always check the simplest explanation for a problem before jumping to a worst-case conclusion.  I’ve learned it so many times, you’d think I would remember it when it came time to diagnose car issues, but I can’t help but assume the worst.  So when the Tempest developed a clunk from the driver’s rear, I immediately ripped everything out of the trunk, tweaked the lower control arms, and tried adjusting the trunk lid.  When the noise got worse, I started to think I was going nuts.

My next assumption was that something had fallen into the gap between the trunk floor and the inner fender and was bouncing around.  Before I reached for the magnet and started fishing, I crawled under the car one more time and took a serious look around.  Was my amateur floorpan repair from last fall coming apart?  Was the gas tank about to fall out of the car?  Was I going to die a horrible, flaming death when the frame separated from the body while I was going around a corner?  I took a deep breath and started back at square one.  I decided to go back under the car with it level on the ground, rather than jacked up in the air.  Lo and behold, the recently-installed shock absorber on the driver’s side was loose; the upper bolts had backed out, but with the car in the air the weight of the axle made it look like they were tight.  I snugged them back up, and the noise disappeared.

In hindsight, it makes much more sense that a part I recently installed would be the culprit, as opposed to something randomly breaking loose after three years of ownership.  So once again, I need to remind myself to slow down and think about what I’m doing before I assume the worst.  Hopefully, I’ll remember this little lesson the next time – because there’s always a next time when you’re working on old cars.

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