Before I started this road trip, I did a couple of test camping trips to Oklahoma (as I mentioned in my Camping for Non-Campers blog). My daughter joined me on the first trip. I left the doors open as I removed item after item for my camping needs from the Jeep. The next day, I decided to drive the byway for some fantastic views only to find that my Jeep wouldn't start. My daughter jump started it and off we went. A couple of weeks later, I decided to do a solo run to a gorgeous campsite that I passed on my way home. I was the ONLY camper out there...it was March, after all. My Jeep wouldn't start...twice! Both times, I got lucky! People came out to fish and ended up helping me. On the way home, I stopped at AutoZone who tested the battery and alternator. They said, "They're good but the battery connectors are loose!". Once I got back to Dallas, my mechanic replaced them. All is good, right??
Maintenance on the road is a definite requirement; especially with the miles I put on a vehicle! I knew my tires had been out of alignment for a while on the road and I had been told prior to departure that they only had a few more miles left in them. I'd say that I'd gone around 3,500 miles when, after breaking down camp and loading up, I happened to look at the tires. Three of them looked like they could go another couple of thousand miles but the front passenger tire was down to the steel! I set out in search of a tire store and was lucky to find one just 40 miles down the road in Florence, OR. $800 later, I was riding smooth and safe!! You have to replace all 4 tires on all-wheel drive vehicles. Ugh!
Jump to Portland, OR. It was time for an oil change. They took my keys and, several minutes later, returned to tell me that the Jeep wouldn't start. Though it was very odd that it wouldn't start for apparently no reason, I told them it was the battery and to just jump start it. They did. They checked the battery and it was "excellent". They offered to check the battery wires for a short but I didn't want to take the time. Three days later, it wouldn't start. I opened the hood, jiggled the battery wires and, boom, it started! Ha! I got this!!
The next day, I headed north along the Pacific Coast Hwy and was afraid to turn the engine off. I did though, once I reached Port Angeles, WA where I stopped for the night. Fingers crossed, the engine started right up the next morning. While waiting on the ferry to take me to Whidbey Island, I didn't turn off the engine nor did I turn it off on the ferry! That was over an hour of idling. Once on the island, in search of a restaurant with outdoor seating (for Lillie), I found an auto repair shop that wasn't busy so I pulled right in. Two hours later, after much argument from me that the battery was good, they sold me a new battery for an outrageous sum!
Well, I stopped for gas and decided to trust the mechanic had an actual clue! He didn't. It wouldn't start. The gas station manager came over and looked at it while I repeatedly turned the key in the ignition. Suddenly, it started!! He claimed that all it needed was a look over from him! LOL I continued on to Salt Lake City only to realize that I didn't need to go past where possible help was available because I couldn't trust the Jeep to start!! Again, it was Labor Day. I put out an SOS on Salt Lake City's couchsurfing group, parked in the Walmart parking lot, fixed myself a nice stiff cocktail, and cried. An old friend on Facebook suggested I go to AutoZone. I had just assumed they were closed but decided it was better than what I was doing!! I found the nearest one and, not thinking, I shut off the engine!! I then walked into the store crying. I couldn't stop!!! An older gentleman offered to come see what he could figure out for me. Two more employees came out to help him. They replaced a connector on the battery and the Jeep started right up!! I started bawling again and, though all he asked for in payment was a smile, I couldn't muster one so gave him a huge hug!!
|Arches National Park|
Once we arrived at the repair shop, I again told the entire history of this electrical nightmare and I insisted that I would NOT buy another battery! A few minutes later, I was informed that the starter was the problem. It made sense but I required every detail to know what convinced him that a new starter would fix my problem. Satisfied, I earned more air miles by pulling out my credit card once more. After $800 in towing, motel, batteries, and labor, my Jeep starts every time....so far.
Just a few miles from the Salt Flats, I was bee bopping down the highway, hopeful in my latest battery when I suddenly smelled something burning. I thought, "Oh no!! It IS an electrical issue!"....but then I looked over to see that the passenger seat head rest was on fire!! I screeched to a halt on the shoulder of the road (almost being rear ended in the process), grabbed my bottled water, and poured water onto the head rest.....I grabbed a dish towel, soaked it, and patted at the hole to make sure the flames were out. Then I jumped out, ran around to the passenger side, and tried to remove the head rest from the seat (with no success) in hopes of keeping the rest of the seat from catching fire in case I didn't get it completely out.
Sure enough, it started smoking again and that's when I noticed the beam of sunlight hitting my magnifying mirror and directing that beam to the head rest!! That mirror has been on the seat the entire trip; however, it had been covered by my cowboy hat! I had slept in my Jeep the previous night so had designated the hat to the back seat so I wouldn't crush it. Good Lord, what a freak thing to happen!! I covered the mirror with SEVERAL items, just to be on the safe side, and was on my journey south once again.
I can certainly laugh about the head rest thing now and I have met so many people due to the electrical nightmare, therefore have some good stories. However, I really could use a FEW months of no more road trip nightmares!!! I'm sure that Lillie agrees!
|Lillie enjoying good rest at the cheap motel in Blaine, WA|