Friday, October 22, 2010

The trip (saga) to Tucson

It's been a while since I've written, mostly because the truck has been in limbo as the it has gone back to the shop more than a few times since the last posting and I am really trying to keep this positive!

In June, I drove the 4Runner my home in San Diego, CA to Tucson, AZ. I'd driven it around town, and needed to run out to Tucson on business. I figured it'd be nice to get it on the highway to see how it performed on the open road. By now it had a couple thousand miles on the motor, and some highway miles would help seat things.

My last road trip was down I5 from Sacramento to San Diego, when I originally bought it. With about 212K on the clock and an original motor, an exhaust leak, and a turbo that didn't boost much. It got 20mpg for most of that trip, 16mpg for the tank over Grapevine and through LA, and would do just a smidge over 80, but didn't like it. It would tool along comfortably at 75 though. Grapevine had it struggling to eke out 50-55mph. That would not do!

Working with the shop, emissions were finally in line with where they should be on a new motor, and mpg had increased to the mid-teens. It seems that many folks are getting closer to the 20s, but I figured the engine was still new.

The fuel gauge doesn't work yet, the sender is a little off. At 10 gallons, the idiot light comes on, leaving about 7 in the tank. I'm only about 170 miles from Yuma. 16 miles*17 gallons= 270 miles/tank. So I filled up and promptly trundled off to Yuma.

The first thing I noticed is the truck was not happy on the open road. 80 was doable, but any more was too much to ask of it. Ok, note to self to discuss with the shop.

About 8 miles outside of Winterhaven (East of Yuma), the engine sputtered and died. It restarted, then repeated.  I was able to coast to within a couple miles of an exit where I could see a Chevron sign. While I was calling AAA, a nice Highway Patrol officer pushed me into a gas station. 

With a full tank it restarted. Let's see... 170/17 gallons... 10mpg?!? Note to self... (This happens a lot for a while).

From there, it was on towards Casa Grande. Another 170 miles, but there are some fuel stations before then. I reset the odometer and started keeping track of my mileage to avoid another issue.

As I was approaching Casa Grande, the sunset was beautiful. I missed a lot of it, because the truck started to miss. Once on the side of the road, I found the #2 and #3 spark plug leads had come off the spark plugs. Thank goodness it was easy, it was getting dark. Note to self...

My next stop was a town called Sahuarita, south of Tucson, AZ. Just South of Tucson, the truck started to miss very badly

As I left Phoenix, the truck started requiring more pedal to keep going. It was dark now, of course. As I passed Tucson headed south, the truck started running very weakly. Then it started to miss again. I pulled over, but the ignition leads were on tight. The turbo, however, was hanging loose.

It was late, but I called shop I knew in the area to save me.

Notes to self were piling up....

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