Monday, August 18, 2008


Starting out Monday, I was determined to make it up into Michigan, past Toledo, so as to leave time to get to Muskegon Tuesday for the 4:45 PM ferry to Milwaukee. Having refilled the transmission fluid at a gas stop in Ohio, I pulled into a service area to check the oil, having heard some noises along the way. It was two quarts low (after an oil change last Thursday!), so I added the only quart I had. When I went to start up again, nothing but clicks. I figured the starter had gotten too hot and seized up as it did in Florida last year after hours of 90 mph driving. And the engine might have overheated for all I know, since there's no way to test the TEMP idiot light.

I called AAA, for a battery boost and possible (probable) tow, and a truck came after an hour - without battery cables. Second truck brought out cables after 45 mins., and after considerable starting efforts, the guy sprayed starting fluid (rocket fuel) into the carb. I remarked that this was a bit like taking pain killers when you have a broken arm - you don't feel the pain, you use it, and make it worse. He laughed a little, but the car actually started up. He was pretty proud as he had me sign the papers, and he drove away. A few hundred feet after I started driving (still in the lot, luckily) the engine just died. Tried to start, nothing, not even clicks.

It was 11PM when I called back to tell AAA to send the truck right back, but another two hours passed before another truck showed up. He towed the car to Tuffy's service shop in Amherst and dropped me at a motel. I spent hours imagining all the things that could have gone wrong, including complete engine burnout from driving around 80-85 with too little oil, completely rearranging itineraries throughout the trip. The thought momentarily passed through my mind of even canceling the whole trip until I had a reliable vehicle, but I squashed it as I would thoughts of suicide (if they ever occurred, which they do not!).

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