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Author Topic: Vehicle problems?  (Read 13452 times)

hbelkins

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Vehicle problems?
« on: July 21, 2013, 10:45:59 PM »

After what happened to me this weekend, I figured I'd ask.

Anyone else ever have a disabling parts failure or wreck on a trip a long way from home?

I know it happened to Brian Reynolds a few weeks ago. And this weekend it happened to me.

Let's share war stories.
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Re: Vehicle problems?
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2013, 11:50:57 PM »

I blew an engine at Exit 72 of Interstate 85 in Alabama on my way from Mobile to Delaware (right about where this guide sign was: http://www.aaroads.com/southeast/alabama085/i-085_nb_exit_070_06.jpg). All of the lights came on the console and then power steadily dropped until the car came to a dead stop with a strong smell of antifreeze. Walked up to the nearby truck stop, used a payphone (this was 1999) and called AAA. An hour and a half later the tow truck showed up with two guys drinking beer. A friend of mine was riding up with me, and since there were two of us, they gave us the option of riding in my dead car while it sat on the flatbed for the way back to Opelika. "We are not supposed to do this, so if you see a cop, duck" was said. Had a carload of stuff, and they dropped us off at the motel on the northwest corner of I-85 and US 431, lowering the car so we could get out and unload a good bit of the stuff we had in there (desktop computer, large monitor, etc.). I called my brother to come get us the next day (it was already 11 at night when we got settled in). He had a morning class at the Univ. of South Alabama and would head up afterwards by afternoon. Meanwhile, we had to take all of our stuff out of the room after 11 am and store it behind the check-in desk, because we could not get an extension on the room without having to pay full price for another night (which went from $40 to $70 because it was an Auburn home game weekend). My brother finally showed up, several hours later than anticipated... We went to the shop where they dropped the car off and loaded the rest of the stuff in it, heading 250 miles back south to Mobile. That pretty much was the end for that Chevy Cavalier and an experience I would certainly like to never repeat...

hbelkins

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Re: Vehicle problems?
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2013, 12:20:14 AM »

I actually blew an engine in a 1988 Chevy S-10 Blazer in 1994, going south on I-65 approaching Elizabethtown. I was going to see my aunt and uncle, who lived about 30 minutes away. I had a cell phone back then (a bag phone) so I called my uncle, who came and got me and took me to a place to get the vehicle fixed by someone he knew. I drove one of his spare cars home and in a couple of weeks went back to get my vehicle. That event happened in a lucky place for me, as it was in a town and not far from my destination and only 3 hours from home. I actually pulled in to call my uncle at a parking lot/service station near the infamous "little green shrub" on "Thirty-One Dub." :-D
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Re: Vehicle problems?
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2013, 01:15:36 AM »

In January 2009 I was driving from Idaho back to college in Laramie, Wyoming. Just before I left Idaho, the local tire shop swapped my regular tires out for studded snow tires and re-mounted the rims.

I got a few miles east of I-84 on I-80, almost to the Wyoming line when I noticed my car just wasn't cornering very well. The roads were bad so it was slick and I just assumed I was driving too fast, even though I really knew I wasn't. I then heard a loud thumping noise and pulled over. I got out of the car, and my back left tire only had one lugnut left on it! The other four had fallen off in transit, screwing up the wheel mount so I couldn't put the spare on. It was late in the day, so the tow driver towed me to the Best Western in Coalville, UT. The next morning he picked me up and towed me all the way back to Salt Lake, which had a branch of the tire chain that forgot to tighten my lugnuts.

The tire place picked up the tab- paid for the tow, got me a new rim and wheel mounts, but it cost me a day and a bit of headache.

Fortunately, that's about it for long distance car troubles- I've had a couple flats and even a blowout in southern Arizona, but those were easily remedied. I nearly exclusively rent cars now for long trips- my current car gets bad enough gas mileage (18) that the rental pays for itself, and once I get a new car I figure the rental cost would offset the depreciation- if I had bought a new car (which was a strong consideration) and took this 4400 mile road trip, I guarantee it would have lost more in resale value than the $300 I paid Enterprise. Obviously this changes in time and there's definitely a sweet spot where it's wise to start putting miles on a newish car, but it's not a brand new car purchased with financing.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2013, 01:27:46 AM by corco »
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Re: Vehicle problems?
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2013, 01:30:38 AM »

I was maybe 7 or 8 years old and my parents were taking me on a road trip from Berkeley to visit a college friend who had a cave in Missouri.  I got very well acquainted with the back seat of our VW bug.  We got as far as Oklahoma, then the Bug threw a rod.  Mom and I went ahead by Greyhound, while Dad stayed with the car until it was repaired a few days later.

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Re: Vehicle problems?
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2013, 01:44:29 AM »

I've had a few mishaps on my travels, mostly when I was younger.

I had the U-joint break on my old beater Datsun pickup coming home from New Mexico back in the late '80s (I believe 1987).  I was on my way up to Crater Lake from Medford when it happened.  Of course, that meant the drive shaft was free to bounce savagely on the pavement until I brought the truck to a stop.  I got towed to the nearest town, Prospect, one of those blink-and-you-miss-it small towns.  Thankfully, all I needed was a new drive shaft, but it was late Saturday and I had to wait until Monday for the replacement to come up from Medford.  So I had plenty of time to walk around the small town and explore a fairly interesting network of trails down to the Rogue River gorge.  The mechanic got me back on my way Monday.

Years later ('94 or '95), I was driving my friend John down to a wrestling tournament in Reno during Christmas Break.  Somewhere along either OR 31 or US 395, my radiator was punctured by a small rock, probably kicked up by a passing truck.  The car overheated about halfway between Alturas and Susanville, at about 8:00 at night, in an ominously-named spot called Ravendale, where there just happened to be a pay phone!  While waiting for the tow truck coming up 54 miles from Susanville, it began snowing heavily, and by 9:30 when the tow truck arrived about 6"-8" of snow had accumulated.  We stayed in a Susanville motel that night, and the next morning found I'd lucked out again: engine was fine, and all I needed was to get the radiator repaired to be on my way.  However, a few weeks later when I was safely back home, the water pump gave out and needed to be replaced.

Not me driving, when I was a kid ('74 or '75-ish), our family's old Chevy pickup threw a rod just outside Unity, OR when we were vacationing.  Dad just bought another pickup (used) in John Day and we resumed the trip.

So you definitely have all my sympathy, HB.  But I view it this way: since I've been fortunate to make so many great road trips in my life, it's inevitable that I would encounter mechanical problems sometime.  My philosophy was and is to just find the humor in it and think about the great story I'll be able to tell!
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Re: Vehicle problems?
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2013, 03:02:33 AM »

Here's a crazy story back from when I was young.

We were coming home from Florida to Pennsylvania on our normal route along I-77 in NC.  Our car (MB 190E) was behaving normally.  It was getting dark and we hit the massive hill on I-77 in VA just north of the NC boarder.  Nasty fog that night.  So, we were going slow with the trucks for safety reasons as doing anything close to the normal speed limit would have been nuts as you could barely see the rear of the vehicles in front of ya.  Still, we were able to pass some of them on that hill (thank goodness for 3 lanes there).  Still, the car did seem a little sluggish going up the hill, but we though nothing about it.

Next morning after we had stopped at a hotel near Wytheville, we continued on the way home.  Now we know there is something wrong with the car, we couldn't accelerate up hills at all.  Going down hills, we could only get the car up to around 55.  It seems that we had the connection to the accelerator had come practically undone while on our trip back home, hence why the car seemed sluggish on that big hill on I-77.

Amazingly, we somehow were able to nurse the car home all the way and didn't get run over by the speed freaks that are on the Interstates sometimes.  I honestly don't think we would have been able to make it if the car would have been an automatic, but thankfully, it was a manual.

oscar

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Re: Vehicle problems?
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2013, 12:04:48 PM »

I was about 8 years old, when my father drove the family cross-country from North Carolina to California in the mid-1960s.  I don't remember the details, but serious engine damage around Oklahoma City.  We were stuck there a few hot summer days while repairs were completed. 

Just before Thanksgiving 2003 (?), I was driving south on I-81, between Roanoke and Wytheville VA, when my engine started to overheat.  Fortunately, my sister and her family were about a half-hour behind me (we were heading to the same place in South Carolina for Thanksgiving, but I didn't know we'd be taking basically the same route), and they spotted me on the shoulder.  After my engine cooled down a little, we backed my car up on the shoulder to a small truck stop i'd just passed, but the repair shop didn't have the parts to deal with the problem (turned out to be a broken thermostat), so we had my car towed back to Roanoke for repairs.  I then caught a ride with my sister, went ahead with Thanksgiving plans as scheduled, then she dropped me off in Roanoke on the way back home, by which time my car had been fixed the day after Thansgiving. 

On a weekend trip long before then, my Honda Accord's water pump gave out on I-287 in New Jersey.  I limped into a repair shop in Piscataway.  I don't remember how that was resolved, but I think I had to catch a train back home, and take the train back a few days later to retrieve my car once it was fixed.

I've also had a shredded tire in Iowa, a broken alternator in West Virginia, and front-end damage from a bird strike in Nebraska, far from home on other trips.  None of those delayed me for more than a few hours. 
« Last Edit: July 22, 2013, 12:14:13 PM by oscar »
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kphoger

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Re: Vehicle problems?
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2013, 01:02:05 PM »

Princeton, MN (680 miles from home)
Found out on Christmas Day that our van's E-brake had pushed all the way through the brake pad and rotor—which was responsible for the god-awful smell at the rear end of our car—and also that our tie-rods were shot.  We had very little money to spare; fortunately, my wife's grandparents were able to cover the cost of the repairs at the dealership in Delano on Monday morning.

Whittington, IL (25 miles from home)
While it may not seem like a long way from home, read on...  The O2 sensor on my wife's car went out, which caused the computer to not let the transmission upshift past 2nd gear.  This gave a realistic top speed of between 25 and 30 mph.  So that's how fast I drove, on 55-mph-signed state highways with no shoulders.

Keensburg, IL (105 miles from dispatch)
My delivery truck had been blowing its turbo hose off the engine, but I thought I had it secured, by flagging down other drivers and borrowing their tools.  I was far behind on my route, and we had a mandatory meeting in Carbondale that afternoon.  Pwooosh! it came off again.  The wife of a truck driver stopped to help, and she had a socket set in her car; I then arranged for my mother-in-law to buy a hose clamp at a truck stop in Mount Vernon (she was coming into town from Missouri).  For fear of the hose blowing off again in the meantime, I drove at between 45 and 48 mph all the way to Mount Vernon—65 miles, most of which is on I-64.  That was my third day of driving a route.
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Ian

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Re: Vehicle problems?
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2013, 01:25:31 PM »

My family has had it's fair share of car problems coming home from long trips. In 2008 when we were coming home from Montreal, my mom's old 1999 Oldsmobile Aurora got a flat tire along the westbound lanes of the Pennsylvania Turnpike/I-276 at the Virginia Drive exit. Luckily, she was able to pull off the Turnpike and pull over on Virginia Drive itself.

In 2009, my dad's old 1998 Ford F-150's battery failed along the New York Thruway southbound a few miles north of exit 17 on the way home from Albany. We had to stay overnight at a hotel in Harriman while the battery was being replaced at a service station nearby before going home the next day.

In 2011, my dad's F-150 had another incident where the left-rear wheel was blown off the axle going south along the New Jersey Turnpike just south of exit 5 due to a loose bolt on the way home from the Adirondacks. Luckily, my dad was able to maneuver over to the right shoulder without any major issues, and even more thankful, the wheel didn't hit any other cars (it ended up rolling over to the right side of the road). We had to wait an hour for a tow truck to come and take us to a repair station at exit 4, where we waited another few hours for an AAA truck to tow us back home to Philly. It was after this incident that my dad finally caved in and bought a new truck (2010 Ford F-350).
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agentsteel53

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Re: Vehicle problems?
« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2013, 01:30:02 PM »

many, many, many times, but astonishingly only once was it far enough away that I was "up shit creek without a paddle".

I have lost count how many times I've done roadside tire changes - the latest was in our new '77 RV, about 300 miles into a 1500 mile trip from New Mexico to San Diego.  that was fun mainly because I had no idea how to use a hydraulic jack, so I called up my friend from whom we bought the RV and he coached me through it.

more interesting ones...

I got totaled in accidents twice - once in Florida, about 100 miles from home, and once in Fort Worth when I was itinerant; I ended up living in San Diego not long thereafter.  (that was the shit creek one!)

I once sprung a transmission fluid leak in Mexico, about 100 miles south of home.  turns out the gasket had developed a hole; a repairman in a small village used rubber cement to fix it well enough that I could drive home; I got a new gasket a day later.

once I had a car lose a radiator hose and immediately overheat the engine bad enough that it wasn't worth repairing.  this was about 65 miles from Bakersfield, so I got the car towed there by AAA, and got a rental car to get my stuff home.  I went back the next day, sold the repair shop the car for $1, and took a train home.  Bakersfield to San Diego was only about 230 miles, so nothing too bad.

other times have all been minor failures that were either repaired quickly (shifter cable, fuel pump, other various and sundry), or did not necessitate repair until I got home. 

why yes, I do invest in the highest level of AAA coverage.  I've needed it!
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Re: Vehicle problems?
« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2013, 01:44:36 PM »

My war story concerns my last car, a 1986 Nissan Maxima, which I called Rosie both for wine-red paint color and as an allusion to Don Quixote's draft horse turned war charger.

Back in 2003, while approaching Edmonton, Alberta as part of a long trip (KS-NE-WY-MT-BC-AB-BC-WA-OR-CA-NV-UT-CO-KS), I noticed a vibrating sensation through the pedal whenever I applied the brakes.  I thought nothing of this at the time because there was no apparent effect on the car's ability to stop.  But after approximately 2600 miles I observed the vibration still hadn't gone away, so when I found myself in Berkeley staying for a few days with a friend, I decided to take the car in to an independent repair shop specializing in Japanese cars.  They were mobbed with customers (their reputation locally was that good), but I told my sob story to the service writer (2000 miles from home, many mountain passes with steep downgrades on the way, etc.) and they were able to squeeze me in on a Friday afternoon.  It turned out that the pads on the rear disc brakes had worn down to nothing, so the calipers essentially destroyed the rotor, which was almost brand-new since I had had wheel bearings replaced recently (on this model, the bearing cage is integral with the rotor).  That job cost about $500.
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jeffandnicole

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Re: Vehicle problems?
« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2013, 01:59:14 PM »

Thankfully, nothing as bad as above, but here's my short list of minor issues:

While in college in Delaware in 1995, my roommate and I visited a friend in Ohio.  Having a day to kill, we took a roadtrip.  We drove into an unexpected snowstorm (truly unexpected...not one of those we didn't look at the weather forecast stories).  I was reaching out the window flicking the ice off the moving windshield wiper, and at one point ripped the entire wiper off the arm!  That made for some interesting driving after that.

Just last month, took a road trip.  After a few hundred miles, my 'TPMS' (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) light came on - Not the symbol indicating a tire was too low, but the symbol indicating there was a problem with the system. I made 1 phone call to a nearby Honda dealership, along with stopping at 2 other dealership repair shops.  None of them were very interested in the problem, and just told me as long as the tires were inflated, that I would be fine.  The light would come on for about a hour or two, then go off.  I dealt with this for the entire 4,200 mile trip.  After I came home, I thought about it, and thought about the 4-way lug wrench I had placed on top of the spare tire (but below the floor cover) before the trip.  I removed it after the trip, and the light hasn't come on since. That damn wrench was screwing up the sensor transmitting from the spare tire!
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agentsteel53

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Re: Vehicle problems?
« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2013, 02:01:40 PM »

Just last month, took a road trip.  After a few hundred miles, my 'TPMS' (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) light came on - Not the symbol indicating a tire was too low, but the symbol indicating there was a problem with the system. I made 1 phone call to a nearby Honda dealership, along with stopping at 2 other dealership repair shops.  None of them were very interested in the problem, and just told me as long as the tires were inflated, that I would be fine.  The light would come on for about a hour or two, then go off.  I dealt with this for the entire 4,200 mile trip.  After I came home, I thought about it, and thought about the 4-way lug wrench I had placed on top of the spare tire (but below the floor cover) before the trip.  I removed it after the trip, and the light hasn't come on since. That damn wrench was screwing up the sensor transmitting from the spare tire!

"TPMS" seems to be a solution in need of a problem.  I've had various rental cars which have had it; and several times I've had an idiot light come on, but not once have I actually had it indicate that I had a flat tire.
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Re: Vehicle problems?
« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2013, 04:20:02 PM »

I have lost count how many times I've done roadside tire changes

We do multiple long-distance trips every year, nearly all at least 300 miles, and some as long as 1100 miles one way.  We've been married since 2006, and have done long driving trips together since about 2003; before that, I did very little driving and didn't even have a car for most of it.  Anyway, over the course of these ten years or so, I've not once had to change out a flat tire, a windshield, or a blinker bulb.  I went through a few tires on the work truck back when I drove delivery, but it always one of the duals in the back, so I was always able to drive it to the repair shop.
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Re: Vehicle problems?
« Reply #15 on: July 22, 2013, 04:27:19 PM »

I had an alternator go south on my Eagle Talon about 70 miles from home, almost no other cars on the road, but another Eclipse 4WD was watching me, and he saw me pull over, noting "yeah, I noticed your tail-lights dim for the last 5 miles or so", and gave me a lift to the next exit to make a phone call (this was 1995). Heh, the cars were POS's, but I'm sure glad a fellow DSM owner was looking out for me! My buddy hooked me up with his AAA Gold card, which at least took away a really expensive headache.

Another time, I was stuck in Miami when my water pump broke, which I'd stupidly ignored for a few days. I then needed a new radiator and all the trimmings, and was fortunate to not require a new cylinder head gasket. Lesson learned; don't be cheap, and spend the extra $150-250 to get that water pump replaced with the timing belt.

The worst breakdown I've had was a timing belt break on that same DSM, but I was exactly 1.5 miles from home. I won't bore with the rest of the unlucky destruction that followed (although to be fair, I wasn't expecting a belt to break at 53,000 miles; 7k earlier then recommended).

Just last month, took a road trip.  After a few hundred miles, my 'TPMS' (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) light came on - Not the symbol indicating a tire was too low, but the symbol indicating there was a problem with the system. I made 1 phone call to a nearby Honda dealership, along with stopping at 2 other dealership repair shops.  None of them were very interested in the problem, and just told me as long as the tires were inflated, that I would be fine.  The light would come on for about a hour or two, then go off.  I dealt with this for the entire 4,200 mile trip.  After I came home, I thought about it, and thought about the 4-way lug wrench I had placed on top of the spare tire (but below the floor cover) before the trip.  I removed it after the trip, and the light hasn't come on since. That damn wrench was screwing up the sensor transmitting from the spare tire!

"TPMS" seems to be a solution in need of a problem.  I've had various rental cars which have had it; and several times I've had an idiot light come on, but not once have I actually had it indicate that I had a flat tire.

TPMS was unleashed as some sort of public-outrage-federal-compromise-kneejerk-response to the "Ford Explorer-Firestone Wilderness AT" fiasco. It was originally created by Porsche's racing division around 1986 to alert drivers that they might need to pit; usually racing tires deflate and/or disintegrate very rapidly, which meant they didn’t spread to other forms of motorsport. TPMS saw little usage on road-going cars until 2000 or so, eventually becoming a federal requirement on all 2009-model year cars. These pressure-monitoring sensors are either the band style, which is wrapped around the inside of the wheel with a metal clamp (think of a really large hose clamp); the other, and newer, thus more popular variety install onto a metal valve stem between the wheel rim opening and locked down with a nut.

There are two kinds of sensors, passive and active; passive ones tend to just notice the pressures upon startup, and active sensors constantly monitor the pressures. Both respond by radio frequencies back to a body control module or a specialized instrument computer. They monitor via sonic vibrations which the tire naturally makes with the wheel cavity, but react to abnormal responses, and send a signal to illuminate the light if the tire pressure is more than 20% lower than the factory recommended pressure guidelines (see your driver’s door jamb placard for details).

They are helpful at certain times: if you've been driving for a while, and the low tire light suddenly lights up, it usually is a sign that there's an impending deflation or the tire is losing air. That's an abnormal situation, so at least it's doing its job. However, like the racing car scenario described above, sudden and rapid deflation can’t be detected until it already occurred.

What usually happens is that the light comes on - and stays illuminated - during startup on a cold morning, or because you’ve been neglecting to inflate your tires at least once a month. Tires normally lose about 1 psi per month, and for every 10⁰F of ambient temperature change, you lose or gain 1 psi...even more pressure potentially lost. So on the first cold morning of the year, you’d get dozens of phone calls asking about that weird light on their dashboard. In many cases, simply driving for 5-10 minutes might extinguish the light. The other situation I’ve encountered (although, only twice), was someone who over-inflated their tires on a road car to 50 and 55 psi; both were trying to be “hypermilers”. Not all sensors detect over-inflation, from what I’ve experienced and heard. In most cases, it’s just as dangerous as under-inflation; although there actually vehicles with all sorts of recommended high/low tire pressures, such as 15-passenger vans and heavy-duty trucks, and a few like the Audi A8 with oddball staggering that has a factory-recommended 10psi difference between front and rear.

They have a little battery inside of them, which means they’ll require replacement approximately every 5-10 years: usually, they’re $100-200. Some cars require a special resetting and calibration procedure if the tire sensor is replaced outside of the manufacturer’s repair facility – this is less the case with most marques – usually the higher-end brands create this unnecessary situation. And sometimes they just go bad, or stop responding to the receiving module, just like any other electronic part of the car. The sensors from about a decade ago required initialization and registration to the computer, which could be an occasional nuisance-and-a-half to the consumer. Some models with full-size spares  and/or with matching wheels might also have a sensor installed...reason enough to check that spare!

I have the passive ones on my car, and after four years, I have never had them light up. I also keeps pretty good tabs on those pressures. My wife’s van has only had the light go off once; the outside temps dropped 30+ degrees from the night before, but the light disappeared (active sensor) after 10 minutes of driving (the tires build up heat and therefore, pressure). I checked them a few moments after the light extinguished, and they were about 6-7 psi low all the way around. The tires don’t have to look low to be dangerous; in fact, “looking low” is already dangerous, it can be an illusion on high aspect-ratio tires, or it’s nearly impossible to visibly detect on low-profile tires.

So, they’re a bit of a safety blanket; like airbags, they are not a substitute for actual preventive maintenance and safe procedures.


« Last Edit: July 22, 2013, 04:45:44 PM by formulanone »
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Re: Vehicle problems?
« Reply #16 on: July 22, 2013, 05:29:41 PM »

In 1974, I was returning to Lynn, MA with my parents from Lambertville, NJ.  Before getting on the NJ Turnpike, we pulled into a gas station outside of New Brunswick.  After filling up, the car (the 1971 Pontiac Catalina wagon I've mentioned in other posts) wouldn't start (failed starter).  We called AAA, who came and towed us to a garage in another part of New Brunswick.  My father and I rode in the tow truck, and my mother and sister waited for a friend of my sister's to drive them to the garage.

As we were heading to the garage, the tow truck got a flat tire.  So the driver pulls over on to the shoulder, drops the car off the hook, and waits for the other tow truck to arrive.  After a bit, the other tow truck shows up, drops off a spare tire, and leaves without hooking onto our car.  The driver then changes the tire, hooks our car back on to his truck, and we proceed to the garage.

Fortunately, the garage had a new starter available (it was a Sunday afternoon), and after about two hours, we resumed our trip back to Massachusetts.
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Re: Vehicle problems?
« Reply #17 on: July 22, 2013, 08:59:48 PM »

We do multiple long-distance trips every year, nearly all at least 300 miles, and some as long as 1100 miles one way.  We've been married since 2006, and have done long driving trips together since about 2003; before that, I did very little driving and didn't even have a car for most of it.  Anyway, over the course of these ten years or so, I've not once had to change out a flat tire, a windshield, or a blinker bulb.

I owned my last car for about 12 years, during which time I raised its odometer reading from about 60,000 to over 227,000, and I don't think I ever had a flat tire in the ordinary sense.  I did have a run-off-the-road accident which ripped one tire off the rim and forced me to use the compact spare to limp home.  In an unrelated incident, I was driving up from DC to visit family friends in Spencer, Massachusetts, when I noticed I had to stop every fifty miles or so to pump more air in the tires.  My friends insisted that I take the car in to the shop for diagnosis immediately, and we had great trouble getting the mechanics to release it since the tires were so worn the steel belts were visible (they were worried about the liability).  The next day I got four new tires at a Sears in Auburn.  It was great fun taking the Massachusetts warranty paperwork to Sears stores all over Kansas to claim my lifetime free rotate-and-balance.

I did have to replace the windshield at least three times.  With windshields quality is key--a cheap replacement windshield probably won't even survive a hard freeze without cracking, while a Libby-Owens-Ford windshield (which I had installed when I finally wised up) will last the lifetime of the car.

I did replace the bulb in one headlamp multiple times.  The assembly was semi-sealed and leaked slightly, and bulbs were cheap enough that it made more economic sense to replace them every few years than to try to have the leak fixed.

I never had to replace any of the turn signal bulbs in this car, although I have had to replace the right front indicator bulb in my current car.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2013, 09:06:26 PM by J N Winkler »
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Re: Vehicle problems?
« Reply #18 on: July 22, 2013, 09:08:49 PM »

offhand, I can recall 9 flat tires, 4 of which were on rentals.  this is in ~740K miles of driving.

never have had to change a blinker bulb, though I have had vehicles where the blinkers were nonfunctional.

as for windshield - I've had several with major cracks that would have deemed replacement, and one rental car got a huge crack during a temperature of -6 degrees.  when I explained that it was a mechanical failure, not an accident, they took a close look and saw no origin chip, and dropped the claim.
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Re: Vehicle problems?
« Reply #19 on: July 23, 2013, 10:11:37 AM »

I had my two right tires go flat — ripping the sidewall on the front one and a slow leak on the rear one — while turning into a gas station in on Central Avenue in Eastchester, NY, over a high and very improperly cut sidewalk (no transition from flat to sloped).

I put the temporary doughnut in front and inflated the rear tire and managed to drive to a nearby friend's house. Since it was on a Sunday evening, there was no way I could get my tires replaced, so my friend invited me to sleep over and I had to call in sick.

On another occasion, I drove all the way back from Baltimore to Montreal with two missing lugnuts, only realizing it when I got home, after some vibration managed to develop. Since I changed my brake pads before the trip, I assume there was a problem with my torque wrench...

No drivetrain or suspension problems so far, which is kind of a blessing since I drive a 2004 Pontiac Sunfire with 230,000 km (142,000 mi) on it...
« Last Edit: July 23, 2013, 10:17:56 AM by Dr Frankenstein »
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Duke87

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Re: Vehicle problems?
« Reply #20 on: July 23, 2013, 10:32:04 PM »

In 73,000 miles my car has had two flat tires (not at the same time), but both happened relatively close to home, so neither was too problematic. Changing a tire in the pouring rain at night in The Bronx and then driving through Manhattan traffic on a donut is a fun experience, though. :)
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Re: Vehicle problems?
« Reply #21 on: July 23, 2013, 11:30:43 PM »

The worst I have ever had is a shredded tire on Highway 69 in Ontario a hundred kms or so from home.  The tire shredded in a two lane construction zone of an otherwise four lane freeway.  I pulled into a construction access and put the 10 year old spare on only to find out that it too was flat.  I don't have CAA, so I decided to drive with the flattened spare to the nearest gas station some 40kms away.  I inched through the construction zone with my four ways at 70-80km/h, which must have driven everyone behind me nuts (but unfortunately there isn't an alternate to this section of Hwy 69).  There must have been a 2-3km backup caused by me that day.
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Re: Vehicle problems?
« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2013, 06:56:34 PM »

I've only had two flat tires in my 24+ years of owning cars.  Fortunately, neither stranded me, as I noticed both in my driveway.  Had to replace the front tires on my Prelude after one got seriously scraped and developed a couple of bubbles when I hit a curb avoiding a driver making an illegal right turn into the one-lane one way street I was coming out of - fortunately the rim survived OK and the tire didn't immediately go flat.

Had to replace headlight bulbs (old sealed-beam type) only twice, once on my Tempo and once on my Prelude.  Just replaced the headlight bezels on my Contour - $125 for parts and 20 minutes with a screwdriver sure beats the $850 price and three hours of work the dealer quoted me six years ago for the same work- they claimed my car wouldn't pass state inspection unless the work was done.  After five subsequent annual state inspections, I decided to do the work (myself) because I finally felt my visibility was degrading to the point it was a safety hazard.

Only have had to replace blinker or taillight bulbs two or three times over the years.  The bulbs I've had to replace the most have been the license plate bulbs on my Contour - one of the pair regularly fails about every six months or so.

for the record, the Contour headlight bezel incident finally convinced me to stop going to the dealer for routine maintenance (which I had never done with my previous cars) - even though the dealer's prices for routine stuff were very competitive.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2013, 07:10:17 PM by roadman »
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Re: Vehicle problems?
« Reply #23 on: July 28, 2013, 01:47:18 PM »

I have a few.

When I was about thirteen or so, on a roadtrip from Louisiana to Florida, my mom's Kia Sephia blew a tire on I-10 in Florida, somewhere between Tallahassee and Lake City. We were able to pull over into a rest area without incident, but while trying to change the tire, the jack collapsed and dropped the car onto the bare brake rotor. A helpful passer-by offered his hydraulic jack and much better tire iron set so we could get the donut on there and get to Lake City to have the tire replaced, at an expense that significantly dulled the rest of the trip itinerary.

On the way to the MEPS for my first in-processing for the Navy back in 2007, my recruiter and I were involved in a major four-car accident on I-20 in Ouachita Parish, barely five minutes out from West Monroe city limits. A significant summer rain storm dropped visibility to only a few feet and a Ford F150 going eastbound lost control and spun out into the westbound lanes, hitting us while we hit two other vehicles trying to get out of the way. There were no injuries, however, and I ended up going to MEPS successfully about a week later.

After that MEPS trip, my mom was taking us home from Shreveport and her car decided to overheat somewhere between Minden and Grambling. With no familiar repair shops available, we willed the car to Ruston with the temperature gauge reading somewhere off the end of its scale, where the car finally gave up the fight in the lot of the repair shop she knew. No catastrophic damage was done, but it also ended our planned vacation to north Minnesota before it began.

RE: the TPMS discussion, I ran over a nail in my Focus, either in the yard of my new house or on the way back to the barracks at Portsmouth, and the TPMS alerted me to something being wrong. I pulled over to check my pressures and the thing was staring me right in the face. I do wish Ford had a system like GM's Driver Information Center that will actually show you the tire pressures at the four corners (or at least according to the system), but nothing beats having an instrument handy. I'm glad it at least pointed me to a problem (any idiot light going on in a car with less than 20K miles is a "send-help" moment!).
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Re: Vehicle problems?
« Reply #24 on: July 28, 2013, 02:11:48 PM »

I used to have a 1991 Honda Accord.

The manual said that you had to remove the washer fluid reservoir and something else to replace a headlight bulb. I was able to do it without removing anything. It was a tight fit, but I made it happen.

The parking /side marker lights were small bulbs, and burned out frequently.

The taillights were much better. None of them ever burned out on me, despite owning the car 8 years from 120,000 to 194, 000 miles on the odometer.
It even had a warning system to tell you when a brake light burned out. I didn't end up needing it, but it seems that that system should be mandatory econsidering the difficulty of checking your brake lights when by yourself, and the number of people driving around with brake lights out.

The dashboard lights did go out frequently. It was a massive pain in the ass the disassemble the dash (3 layers of screws) to access the bulbs.
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