Van Disasters

You may be thinking I was a little tough on Becky last blog, so let me put that straight.  I certainly have had more than my fair share of ‘breakages’ over the years.  Mechanical items seem to develop a lemming streak as soon as I touch them, as demonstrated by a series of van breakdowns last spring.

I had the Aunts here at the time, are you seeing a theme here, and had driven to Guelph, hot spot of the rich and famous, to visit the family matriarch, Aunt.   She’s not Aunt This,or  Aunt That, she simply is,  Aunt.  There’s no Aunts above her, she is Aunt to all.  Anyway, we were on the way back and had made it to the boundaries of Mississauga, when I noticed a red light on the dashboard.  Not good.  I quickly scanned the instrument panel, and noticed the engine temperature was just about to go into the red.  Bloody Hell.  I pulled over into an empty parking lot.

I jumped out and lifted the hood.  Yep, that’s hot all right.  The coolant tank was noticeable by it emptiness.  The thing that was supposed to be red, wasn’t any colour at all.  I searched the vehicle for bottled water and emptied any remnants into the coolant tank.  I replaced the hood and turned the engine back on.  Not great, but good enough to move on.  We managed a few more miles before it had another hot flash.  Okay, bit of a problem now.  There was no more water and I had two unsprightly ladies, and Becky in her wheelchair, sitting in the back of the vehicle.  Tom suggested we walk to the nearest garage and buy some coolant.  “Are you alright if we are gone for fifteen minutes” I asked the group in the back of the van.  “Yes, we’re fine,” came back the chorus.

In fifteen minutes, Tom and I were back with a jug of coolant.  We poured it in and started off again.  The needle was flying around a bit on the temperature gauge, but the van was moving.  With lots of encouragement, and not a little sweating from me, we made it back.  I checked the coolant level again, and it was almost gone.  I took the van in the next morning.

Apparently, the thermostat had gone and needed to be replaced.  They ran several checks to see if there had been any engine damage, but really, they couldn’t tell until it was up and running.  I only ran it a couple of days before I noticed the temperature gauge sneaking up towards red.  I was having palpitations, I tell ya, so I took it back in, and this time it was a loose wire, no charge. 

I ran it for the next week and made it back to Guelph and back as well as taking the visitors from England up to the airport.  Everything seemed to be back to normal, and I was starting to feel relaxed driving the van again.  Two days later, we were coming back from Toronto, on the Gardiner, and the muffler fell off.  It must have been noisy, you think.  Well, it was, but just for that day.  As soon as I thought I would have to take it in, clunk, clunk, clunk and it was gone.   I pulled off the highway and called Tom.  “I’m really nervous about driving this van”, I told him.  “You’ll be fine,” he assured me.  So, with all eyes upon us, because of the noise we were making, I drove home.

Tom offered to drive the van to the muffler place for me, and said I could follow in his car, just in case the van had to be left overnight.  Fifteen minutes later we were at Zoro Muffler.  They took the van in right away and said it would be about an hour.  Great!  An hour or so later, the van was ready.  Tom went to get in his car, and noticed he had a flat tire.  I swear I only drove it for fifteen minutes and didn’t hit a thing!  This car voodoo was getting serious.  The guys at Zoro checked Tom’s tire; it was the valve, so they took it off and sent us down the street to Kal Tire.  They took the tire and replaced the valve in five minutes, no charge.  Wow!  Back up to Zoro, and they put the wheel back on, no charge.  I was almost in tears.  At that moment in time, it seemed like they were the nicest people in the world.  I was, and am, extremely grateful for their help.  Back home, and I could sit and have a well-earned cup of tea, and laugh hysterically.

During the three weeks that these breakdowns had occurred, the front driver side tire had needed air a couple of times.  I realized that I probably had a slow leak.  I thought that I’d better take it in before it goes while I’m driving at high-speed, or something.  I took it in to the regular mechanics.  They said it would only be an hour.  Cool.  I can get groceries while I wait.  An hour later they handed me the nail that they had removed from the tire.  Ouch.  The van seemed to be up and running again, although I was really nervous now; I checked tires every day, I checked coolant levels every day, and I was constantly looking at the temperature gauge while I was driving. 

It didn’t make any difference because the next week, when we were going to the parking lot where the van was, after an appointment downtown Toronto, I noticed a flat tire on the front drivers side.  OMG!  When will this ever end!  Although I felt like bursting into tears and curling up in the fetal position, I managed to pull myself together in front of Becky.  Luckily (what has luck got to do with it) the van has an air compressor in the trunk/boot.  It’s one of those extras you can get when you get a van converted for wheelchair access.  Anyway, I was able to fill up the front tire.  The problem was, I didn’t know how long it would take to go down again.  Courage Camille.  I loaded Becky into the van and headed for home.

I tried to judge whether the van was driving at an angle, and every time I thought it was and the tire was going down, I lost another year off my life, I think.  Thank God we made it home.  I checked the tire and headed to the garage. I was now on first name terms with everybody on the service desk.  “Remember last week when I had a nail in the tire, well the same tire has gone flat again.  I don’t know if the seal didn’t hold, or what?”   They took it in, and an hour later, they handed me a screw; definitely not a nail.  Crikey!  What are the chances? 

What are the chances of any of two these things happening a week apart, let alone five of them, or six if you include Tom’s flat tire as well?  It’s a good job I’m lucky, or I’d never get out of the house!

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About chebandbecky

I was born in Birmingham, England and emigrated to Canada in 1988. Becky is my daughter who was injured in a car accident. We are working towards her independence.
This entry was posted in Car, Disability, Humour, Life, Repairs, wheelchair and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Van Disasters

  1. Tom Bradley says:

    You truly have car “voodoo”…maybe the first flat tire of my life, and you’re there for it…

    The vortex that is Life with Becky continues to suck us in…entertaining, but often perplexing…

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