Thursday, September 26, 2013

New or Repeat Saga

Thursday morning 7:30

Let’s start at the beginning of this new saga ….

Tuesday we pulled out of Oregon City for a very nice drive (and tow) to Pendleton, Oregon, about 225 miles, stopping several times along the way to make sure Petunia was happy being towed.  In Pendleton we stayed at a Walmart and I’m beginning to think maybe staying at Walmart is our “nemesis.”  Yesterday morning we pulled out of Walmart at about 10:30 for the 187-mile drive to Ontario.  We didn’t make it!

All had been going well and we’d covered about 100 miles; we stopped at a Rest Area outside of Baker City because I’d decided, just to be on the safe side, I’d reconnect the battery in Petunia, start her and let her idle for several minutes – just as a precaution in case the battery had drained any.  Dead!  Exactly the same scenario as happened in Burns on September 3rd!  Oh, my heart sank and I descended into “poor me” and nearly complete “I don’t know what to do next!” mode.  I’m not going to relate all phone calls to AAA, Camping World Emergency Services and Mercedes Benz in Portland.  But, long story short, AAA came to the rest area after about 2 hours and the guy talked with the Mercedes Benz service rep.  Kevin, the MB service rep, suggested that it is probably in need of a new battery.  Almost as an afterthought he asked that we wait a few minutes while he went out and spoke with the technician who’d replaced the clutch on the car.

The AAA guy stayed with me waiting for info from MB.  After about 20 minutes the MB mechanic suggested that AAA jump-start the car (which hadn’t worked the other time).  Lo and behold, it started right up.   So the technician told the AAA guy to lead me into Baker City (8 miles) to make sure everything worked okay.  That we did and he guided me to a repair shop where the owner checked the battery – it was fully charged!

“Hmmm,” said the MB service rep, Kevin, on the phone.  He talked with his mechanic again and they decided that the problem is that as the car is towed with the transmission in “neutral,” when the battery drains the computer system switches the transmission into “park” so when I get stopped and try to start the ignition the computer is “confused” and won’t allow the car to start.  Well, that’s just great, now what? 

Oh, a little ‘trick’ nobody had mentioned ever and it’s not in the owner’s manual.  When that happens, you turn the ignition switch on and press and hold the brake pedal, keeping it pressed as the computer goes through its gyrations (for lack of a better term).  As I’ve said before, when the battery has been “dead” each time, all the lights and sounds on the dash DO WORK, the car just doesn’t start.  While at the repair shop we disconnected and then reconnected the battery like I do when I start towing and finish towing.  Yup, the car wouldn’t start and the dashboard instrument panel had three lighted bars where it should indicate that the transmission was in “park” or “neutral” – so I pressed the brake pedal and held it there until those three bars turned into “P” and voila! The car started right up.

I asked Kevin at Mercedes Benz to send me an email today with all the verbal instructions he’d given us on the phone.  He said he would do that.  I towed the car behind Floribunda to an RV park in town and spent the night here.  I unhitched Petunia and drove her into town for errands last evening  - not one single problem.  She ran like a top!

So, as of now I’ve decided to head to Ontario where I was headed yesterday.  I’m not sure what the facilities in Ontario may be but I do know it’s getting closer to Boise, which makes me a little more comfortable because there’s at least a Mercedes Benz dealership there.

And, two other problems … you know, when it rains, etc. … My newly installed backup camera is being temperamental vacillating between functioning and not.  I called Camping World and they said it’s probable that the connection on the camera itself (on the rear of the rig) is loose – engaging and then disengaging.  Well, I have to get somewhere to ask somebody to get up there to hopefully just tighten the connection.  The monitor works perfectly so I’m hoping that’s all it is.  Secondly, it’s cold here in eastern Oregon so last evening I turned on the heater in the coach.  It came on and heated for about 5 minutes then abruptly stopped and I haven’t been able to restart it since.  I met a lovely couple from Georgia in the site next to me; the gentleman came over and tried to find the fuse for the heater but couldn’t.  I went out last evening and bought a space heater for the night – it got down into the 30s during the night.  So, there’s another thing to get fixed.  The heater was thoroughly inspected in July and I certainly haven’t had need for it until now.

I’m still planning to post some photos of Kari’s Ironman – but, first things first!


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