Gone Exploring. Part One.
|Ford had a creative ad campaign, |
which really hit the target.
The curiosity shouldn't extend to whether or not you'll reach your destination!
I recently had quite an adventure with my Explorer. I really don't blame it for my problems.
It has always run pretty good, no problems like over heating, it doesn't even leak any oil. It did stall out a couple of times, but it never happened while I was driving it.
I've done a few things to maintain and repair it. I bought a couple of rear tires, a blower motor, thermostat housing gasket, front shock absorbers, and battery. I just changed the air filter a couple of months ago.
I knew that it would make an occasional moaning sound, usually when cold, which I attributed to the serpentine belt. I inspected the belt, didn't see any cracking or chunking so I filed that away in my memory banks, though I did get around to ordering a new belt and idler pulley set from Rock Auto. It's currently sitting in my garage!
I was going to change them a few months back, I even mentioned that in my earlier post. But I never did.
The noise never seemed to get any worse and the belt never frayed. So it was easy to put off. I had taken the '07 Mustang on both trips to Fresno for the vaccine. We had a sudden family emergency in Riverside so the three of us were all going to go.
I thought that we would be more comfortable in the Explorer and figured that it was good to go. So off we went. It was running fine I kept it down to 70 mph. in an attempt to optimize the fuel economy as best as possible. As much as I liked the vehicle, it was never going to be a gas mileage champ. My mileage had always been around 17-18 mpg. on long trips.
|photo source: 123rf.com|
This highway cuts through a part of Los Angeles County that few think about.
It was running fine, a/c on, until we were on the Pear Blossom Highway east of the little town of Llano. We stopped at the signal light and I heard a unusual sound from under the hood. I could tell that it was not going to be good. The sound seemed to stop as rpm increased, so I thought that things would be okay. I pulled over and took a quick look under the hood I didn't see anything wrong so I continued on. A couple of miles out of town there was a horrible screeching sound.
It sounded like a demon had taken up residence under the hood!
The engine continued running, the belt wasn't broken. Could it be that one of the accessory drive units; the alternator, a/c pump, or power steering pump had seized up, and the pulley was no longer spinning? I gingerly felt the top of the alternator and it didn't feel particularly hot.
Since the a/c, and power steering, had been working fine until then, and the alternator was still charging, I didn't think that those items had seized up. That leaves the belt tensioner and guide rollers. I'd bet that one of these rollers seized up just like they had been warning me!
I could test my hypothesis by disconnecting or cutting the belt, and seeing (listening) if that eliminated the noise. I didn't have the tools with me and getting to our destination outweighed any other considerations.
Currently AAA does not allow the stranded motorists to ride in the tow ruck, due to Covid, so we had to secure our own ride. Luckily our Daughter who is car share savvy and managed to secure an Uber for us. My first. The Explorer and us were on our way to Riverside. We beat it there by a little time.
Now what to do?
We didn't have a car, and all the rentals were sold out. I didn't have a car available to run around and look for a garage to fix it. Besides, I didn't know exactly what was wrong so I couldn't say how much I would be willing to spend. I was very lucky that one of my Brothers in Law was kind enough to lend us his 2018 BMW coupe to drive back and forth from our lodging in Anaheim. More about that later.
The Explorer wasn't leaking any coolant or oil and it looked quite presentable in my eyes. My BIL's home is in a new subdivision where parking is a little tight and I thought I would have to move the Explorer instead of taking up a space and a half at the curb. He is not a car guy so it wasn't like we were going to break out the tools and take a look-see. I wasn't going to be the first guy to drip oil in his driveway!
It's been a long time since I was subject to car trouble so far from home, 400 miles! With an old, low value car that I had been intending to sell, just a couple of weeks ago. It's not like this was treasured hobby car, though I'd developed a bit of a relationship with it.
Family business was the priority and that came first. A couple of days later we needed to leave as my Wife was teaching an art class that had been scheduled for the next day. There wasn't time to hang around Riverside and mull over options. We picked up a rental car and instead of the expected Hyundai something, we optioned our way into a Mustang GT convertible.
What exactly were my options?
1) Find a local garage to fix the Explorer.
2) Fix it myself down there.
3) Hire a tow to bring the thing back home.
4) Return with my truck and trailer and bring it home myself.
5) Sell it to a wrecking yard.
6) Donate to a charity.
7) Try to sell it locally on CL.
My reactions in order:
1) Maybe, but I'd need more time down there to run around and investigate. There would also be a spending limit. I have to return immediately and it would take another trip.
2) No. I can't really fix it there, so it would either have to be towed home or I'd have to return with my truck and a trailer. I would have some anxiety about my truck making it since it also has some deferred maintenance issues.
3) No, AAA is making it harder to stack tows and there is the additional expense of the rental car. I investigated the cost and it was way too high. I'd have to hire a car transport service.
5) Maybe, but I had to deal with 800 numbers and I found that I had to physically be there to complete the transaction.
6) Maybe a better choice. The donation rep told me that I could have an authorized person conduct the transaction, if I sent them the title.
7) You must be kidding!
I ended up moving the Explorer from the court out to a nearby street. Then I left it there to return home to decide what action to take. I contacted the Pick your Part car buyer and arranged to sell it to them for 770 bucks, tow included. I will have to return with the pink slip, but family business required that anyway, so we are going to return the next week.