Breaking (Down) Bad - Road Report Day 4

August 27, 2016 by Tom McCracken
ROW Bus broken down on side of I-70

Day 4 was one of the longest days of my life. Things started great as we packed up and headed to Colorado Springs early. Our ETA to Breckenridge was 3:04 pm.

We decided not to take the direct route via smaller mountain roads over some pretty high peaks. Instead, we went up to Denver to take Interstate 70. While the peaks are easier on 70, they were still sizeable.

Several miles west of Denver, we started the climb the first peak at a 6% grade. Near the top, the engine temperature warning on the RV came on; so we pulled over into a wide shoulder with a few other trucks having the same issues.

We checked the coolant, and it seemed OK, and we couldn't think of something else that could have been wrong. Just then, a guy knocks on the door asking if we needed any help. He explained that they were roadside mechanics and that they help people with overheating cars.

It seemed a little too convenient for me, with a high potential for sketchiness. But lacking our plan, we agree to pay them $100 to check out the issue. The mechanics said the coolant and fan were fine, so the most likely issue was the thermostat.

They stated that they could order the parts and be back in an hour to fix the problem. I leerily gave my CC number to a guy on the phone for the parts, and they took off. We called the parts place back to check if the order was legit, and it was. So I felt a little better about the situation.

They had to go to two places to get the parts, and got back an hour and a half or so later. They got the thermostat changed and put in new coolant. We started the engine to make sure it was working. There was a small leak, but the bigger problem that proceeded was that the engine wouldn’t shut down.

We took apart the whole dash, ignition switch, and more trying to kill the engine. Nothing worked. After an hour and a half of trying to figure out the cause of the problem, we just pulled the ignition fuse. The engine stopped, but it wasn't the ideal solution.

While this all was happening the mechanics fixed the coolant leak and asked them to change the oil while they were at it. This was something we planned to do in Denver the following week. If you didn't know, RV's and this one, in particular, takes 40 quarts of oil! Diesels like their oil like sailors like their rum. Why? No one knows.

Finally, around ten everything was ready and needed to pay our mechanics $700 in cash. After getting the max out of an ATM, it was off to Walmart for a few $100 cash back purchases to make up the difference. It took 30 mins to get through the one line at Walmart with a quirky credit card chip reader.

Around 11:30 p.m. we were on i70 headed to Breckinridge. I-70 looks much less impressive at night when you can’t see the mountains. But a couple of hours and two big peak climbs later, the overheating issue seemed to be fixed.

We rolled into the Tiger Run RV Park around 1:30 A.M. and crashed out as soon as we could pull the fuse to kill the engine and removed the dash connectors to kill the warning buzzers. Still, a lot to deal with tomorrow.