Oh no, another tow woe!

@mentalward (14716)
United States
July 3, 2012 6:50pm CST
My car died. Sounds kinda simple, right? I drove over 100 miles on Sunday to Baltimore, Maryland to visit a friend and drop my son off so he could visit old friends, too. It was hot on Sunday, Very hot, 100 degrees (F) or more and it was HUMID! As soon as I got there, my car started smoking and smelling like burning plastic. OH NO!!! I turned off the engine, which was NOT overheating. I always keep an eye on that whenever I take long trips whether it's hot out or not. No one could figure out what it was. So, it sat there for a few hours while I visited and enjoyed myself. When I got back to it, it started up fine, no smoke, no stinky plastic smell. So, I started heading home (with fingers crossed). I didn't get more than a couple of miles when it started slowing down on me. I had just enough life left in the car to get it into a parking lot. It was dead, not to be revived. So, Sunday evening, 110 miles from home, no mechanics are available, heck, half of Baltimore was still without electricity from that horrible, devastating "derecho" storm that rolled through on Friday. I called my husband who was working in D.C., about 50 miles away. After waiting for TWO HOURS in that horrible heat and humidity, he picked me up and took me home. Monday, we went back to Baltimore and towed my car back here. He said it was my alternator. Sounded right. He tried to take it off but my car has the altnerator placed under the engine and he didn't have all the tools necessary to get it off so I had to call a tow truck to take it to a mechanic, where it now sits. I'm STILL recovering from sitting in that horrible heat for two hours. Have you ever had to do anything similar? What did you do to amuse yourself while you waited? I had nothing, all I could do was fan myself and watch all the hot people going by. Not one single person stopped to ask if I was okay. Ah, life. Did you have people ask if they could help you?
5 people like this
9 responses
@RawBill1 (8542)
• Gold Coast, Australia
6 Jul 12
Oh no! Sorry to hear about your dramas! I had a similar problem a few years ago with my old car I had at the time. I was on my way to the docks to pick up a delivery that had just cleared customs. It was a quiet day so I had decided to drive the hour up there instead of having it delivered the next day. What a mistake that was! I was close to the docks when I pulled in to refuel but then after I came out I could not start my car. After finally getting it jump started with the assistance of a guy at the truck wash next door, I was on my way again. But I only got as far as the next intersection and as soon as I slowed, the car cut out again and I could not restart. I then had to walk back to the truck wash and get help again. But this time no matter what we tried, the car would not start. So after trying to get a tow truck and getting a large quote, I rang my wife and got her to come and pick me up. While waiting for her to get me, I managed to also lock my keys in the car and had to break into it. (At least that gave me something to do other than watch the coal getting unloaded from the trains) I then got the attention of the security at the docks because I was breaking into my car. Once I got back into it, I took the battery out and then took it home and charged it. The next day I took the charged battery as well as a back up battery and picked the car up. It started first go. But by the time I got home, it was flat again. Alternator! So I had to get the alternator refurbished. luckily I did most of the work myself, but it was still an expensive and time consuming drama.
1 person likes this
@mentalward (14716)
• United States
6 Jul 12
Wow! It's bad enough when you can't get your car started but to lock the keys inside, too! How awful! But, that is one way to attract attention when you need it. What is it with these alternators? This is the second vehicle I've needed a new alternator for. Dragon (above) also has an alternator story. I know all about that "expensive and time consuming" thing. $340 for the new alternator and $140 for labor and that's just an estimate. I know nothing about refurbishing alternators. I DO know that I'm going to suggest to my son that he learn auto mechanics for any future problems. Isn't it strange when something as simple as a leisurely drive can turn into such a dramatic endeavor? My son HAD to have a new pair of shoes one night so I took him to the shoe store. On the way home, a deer flew out of nowhere and slammed into my car, causing $2,000.00 in damages and I did not have coverage for deer damage.
@Hatley (152616)
• Garden Grove, California
9 Jul 12
hi mentalward at least you did not get penalized for hitting the deer. in south Dakota in the Custer state Park it is full of moose deer, and antelope and if a driver hits an animal and its hurt he is supposed to report this to the nearest town well my dad had been to the VA hospital at Hot Springs to pick up my half brother it was dark and suddenly they did not see the moose until they hit it. according to my dad the only damage to the moose was a cut lip as part of the lip was sticking on the car. the car was pretty badly battered but they limped into the next town .the service station man on hearing about the moose told them the law required that they report this and he gave them a number. my dad was angry about the accident as my half brother was driving so the car was repaired and they drove another sixty miles home. he did not report it.okay the station guy did and gave them the name of my father and the town etc. so my dad got a letter telling him he was fined seven hundred dollars for not reporting having hit the moose.so I guess he did pay it as he did not end up in jail but he always felt he was above such laws. I was about 17 at the time and felt my father should have reported the accident. then he would not have been fined. He once hit a dog the same WAY AND DROVEoff leaving a little boy crying over the dying dog.I still feel he was in the wrong both times.
@RawBill1 (8542)
• Gold Coast, Australia
10 Jul 12
Oh dear, not a deer! I tried to get a used alternator for my car but they did not exist and new ones were also unavailable as there was something different about it, so he had to repair mine. Even though I removed the alternator and refitted it and took it into his workshop, the repair bill was still a few hundred! In my current car I also had a break down about 14 months ago. It started to steam as I approached traffic lights and I was the first car in the queue so had to sit there a few minutes. Meanwhile the car started to shake and steam quite badly before stalling. I had to let all the other cars go around me before I could push it out the way and call a tow truck. Some young guys that were walking past came over and helped which was nice of them. It was the water pump this time and cost about $500 to get repaired. I could have done most of the labour myself, but we were moving house and I was really busy and desperate to get the car back on the road ASAP as I needed it.
• United States
5 Jul 12
Hi MW! I’m so sorry you had to experience that in such awful heat. I’m glad you only had to spend 2 hours in that heat instead of 6 or 8 hours. I live in Georgia, and our heat can get up to triple digits really fast. Yes, I’ve been broke down before and had to wait about 3 hours to get someone to help me, and I wasn’t even out of town! It just happened that there was only one person who lived in the same town as me, and he was busy doing something. He finally came. I was at the gas station in Walmart parking lot. I don’t have that car anymore.. it would always let me down.
1 person likes this
@mentalward (14716)
• United States
6 Jul 12
Hi PQ. I'm starting to think it may be time to consider a new vehicle. It's just a shame I can't afford one. I've had more issues with this vehicle in the past year than I've had the entire seven years I've owned it. If it weren't for the stupid alternator being built onto the bottom of the engine in this thing, I'd have it fixed already but, it's Korean and, apparently, they do things differently. I'm still recovering from that night. I caught a cold on Wednesday and I know it's from my immune system taking a beating in this awful heat. So, even though I'm sitting in air conditioning now, I couldn't get out if I had to because my car is still in the shop and I feel awful with this stupid summer cold. They always seem worse than winter colds. Maybe it's better that I stay put, anyway, since it's 100 out there right now and supposed to get to 102 tomorrow. I have no idea what it'll be like with the heat index. I hope you're staying cool or at least trying to. This heat isn't good for anyone. I hear we're supposed to have a cold front come through on Sunday. Monday and Tuesday are only supposed to get up into the low 80's for us here! I hope you get the same cold front!
1 person likes this
@Hatley (152616)
• Garden Grove, California
9 Jul 12
gosh I feel sad that we are comfortable here while the other side of the US has such rotten weather. we have not had really hot weather yet here but by the end of July it usually gets up there an stays for days.in the hundreds. dread that.wish we could bottle up the nice cooler air and keep it for the heat spell we usually get. but compared to what we endured when we lived in Tempe Arizona in the summer it got to 114 to 120 many days. hot really hot.
• United States
9 Jul 12
It was 105 here the other day. I'm not sure what the temp is now. It's still hot.
@ShepherdSpy (8563)
• Omagh, Northern Ireland
4 Jul 12
Thankfully,It doesn't get that hot here that being stranded without a/c would be a problem..though on visits to the States,I have seen 3 digits up on a thermometer and it's not a situation I'd like to be in for long periods! Here,though,people would definitely stop to assist a stranded driver..
1 person likes this
@mentalward (14716)
• United States
4 Jul 12
Then is there room for one more where you live? I'll start packing now! Where I live (Winchester, Virginia) I'm pretty sure someone would stop to help. It's Baltimore City that is awfully cold. There are just too many people packed into that place, too many selfish people whose agendas don't include assisting strangers. In one respect, I can understand because the crime rate there is incredibly high and it's hard to trust anyone. Still, I'm an itty bitty female with some years behind her and it's hard to even imagine me posing a threat to anyone. Before the past few years here, I can only remember one year in my past where it reached triple digit temperatures. We've had some really incredibly intense weather-related phenomena happening in the past few years. That storm we had on Friday, called a derecho, I've never even HEARD of before and all of a sudden, we're in the middle of it. We had 80+ mile per hour wind gusts that snapped trees in half or completely uprooted them, which then fell on power lines, houses, cars, you name it. I went driving on Saturday to see the effects of this storm and I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It looked like a tornado had ripped through. So, yeah, maybe I ought to start thinking of moving across the pond.
1 person likes this
@Hatley (152616)
• Garden Grove, California
9 Jul 12
hi mentalward here in southern calif we have had excellent weather not more than 80 or 90 at most and most days around 76 or so.come here where its not so hot but b e prepared to pay horrible rents and house payts too.
@mentalward (14716)
• United States
10 Jul 12
I guess there are pros and cons no matter where you live, huh? Since I have a set income, I think I'll stick with the blazing hot temperatures and devastating storms where the cost of living isn't TOO bad. If I were able to work, I'd definitely consider southern California as an awesome place to live. My son has a good friend who recently moved there (LA) from Baltimore and says he LOVES it.
@winterose (39932)
• Canada
6 Jul 12
I have been 17 and a half hours in the dark with no electricity and I sleep, thought to myself and sat out on the balcony for a while, I hope your car is okay and back to running like new again.
1 person likes this
@mentalward (14716)
• United States
6 Jul 12
Thanks, winterose. The car is still in the shop. The mechanic said the new alternator should arrive today around noon and he'd do his best to get it back to me today but it looks like that's not going to happen. Hopefully, he's open tomorrow and I can pick it up then. If not, I'll have to wait until Monday. One entire week for one alternator. I think I'll talk to my son about learning auto mechanics. He wants to learn body work but I think he'd make more money if he know how to fix them since more and more people are trying to hold on to the vehicles they have now instead of buying new ones.
@Rick1950 (1481)
• Peru
10 Jul 12
Well, no one can know when a car gets broken and the alternator is a main piece of the car. But after all you got help, although you waited two hours in the hot weather. There weren't anything there, that has could given you shadow? You had a hat? Anyway you have es well overcome.
@mentalward (14716)
• United States
11 Jul 12
No, sadly no hat, no shade. I sat in my car with the doors open until the street lights came on and the bugs came out. Then, I had to close at least one door to keep the majority of the bugs out. That lasted about a half hour before help arrived. I've learned never to take a trip like that ever again without preparing better in case of emergency like this. I will ALWAYS take cold water along with me. I will always take a first aid kit with me. I will also NEVER plan a trip like this again when it is so very hot. That is very hard on a car.
@Rick1950 (1481)
• Peru
11 Jul 12
Well, my friend, you are not probably the only one who has passed such an event. Take a rest and I wish you have a nice day!
@mentalward (14716)
• United States
14 Jul 12
You are very correct in that I am definitely not the only one who has had this happen. As a matter of fact, on my way to Baltimore that day, I passed by a motorist whose car had broken down and I felt so very bad for him. I thought, "I'm so glad that's not me!" (He had help and they were working on getting his car back on the road again.) And, just a little later, that WAS me. My car has finally been fixed and I have it back, although the smell from whatever was burning will probably stay in my car for awhile yet. It smelled like plastic burning and is still there, although quite faint at this time.
@Thoroughrob (11771)
• United States
5 Jul 12
I am so sorry you had to sit in that heat. I would say that the heat is why no one stopped, although it is sad. I have had people stop and ask it they can help, in fact, my handicap van broke down and a guy towed us home. It was about 20 miles and when I asked how much I owed him, he replied "nothing, just glad to help" and jumped in his truck. I was left standing there with money in my hand, as I was so grateful to him. I hope you recover soon.
@mentalward (14716)
• United States
6 Jul 12
Thank you, Thoroughrob. I'm getting better. I caught a cold on Wednesday and I believe it's a direct result of my lowered immune system from that awful heat. My car is still in the shop. I was told the new alternator would get there today around noon and he'd do his best to get it finished today but it's not looking very good. I did get a ride from total strangers once. I wasn't driving and was at a doctor's office. I had called a cab to pick me up and was waiting outside for it. A couple pulled up and went into the building. An hour or so later, they came out again and saw me still waiting there. They got into their van but then got out, came over to me and asked if I was waiting for a ride. I told them I had been waiting for a cab for like two hours at that point (and I had called the cab company who assured me one was on the way). These nice people offered to drive me home, which was 25 miles away. At first I said no but they insisted. They looked okay but you worry, you know? Well, they drove me all the way home and, when I offered them the money I would have given to the cab driver, they refused. I insisted, as they were obviously not well to do and they finally took it, albeit hesitantly. I told them it was money for the cab so I wouldn't keep it anyway so they took it. I just wish someone had just ASKED if I needed help. I pulled two spaces away from a police car and that stupid cop never even looked my way. I mean, I got out, opened the hood of my car, was looking under the car, on the phone getting frantic and not once did this jerk even look my way. When I opened both front doors to allow air circulation (what little breeze there was) and sat there looking lost and defeated, the jerk drove off! I have absolutely no respect for police officers anymore. This isn't the first time they've shunned their job that I've noticed personally. Oh, well. I'm home now even if my car isn't. I'm feeling a bit better today so it's getting better all the time.
1 person likes this
@Hatley (152616)
• Garden Grove, California
9 Jul 12
hi on a hot day like that and the cop did not even ask if he cou ld be of help? thats horrid I have heard that some areas the cops are like that. here in Orange county most of the ones I have met have been really helpful to us. It would have helped you a lot could anyone have even offered you some cold water.
@mentalward (14716)
• United States
10 Jul 12
Definitely, Hatley! Cold water would have made it so much easier to bear. Luckily (I think!), I had an old bottle of water in the car, half-filled with very hot water. I used it to soak some paper towels that I had in the back, then waved the paper towels until they cooled off a bit and used that to wipe myself down every few minutes. It helped some but to have some cold water to drink would have made all the difference. So many people passed by me, looked my way, saw me sitting there with both doors open and fanning myself with my disabled placard but not one soul even asked if they could get me anything or send help. It was so obvious that I was in distress, geez. I always try to help people whenever I can and in whatever way I can, hoping that maybe it'll be passed on, you know? I don't know if it works or not but it makes me feel better anyway.
@JenInTN (27565)
• United States
7 Jul 12
Oh mentalward...car problems are the worst and you just never really know when care are going to lay down on you. I hate it that you had to wait in this horrible heat. You must have been exhausted. I have been there a few times myself...not in this heat..but stranded. I am a people watcher so I can usually entertain myself with that. I have been in situations where the kind samaritan has asked if I am ok but for the most part they usually just looked past me.
@mentalward (14716)
• United States
11 Jul 12
Yeah, it's sad that most people are that way but I can almost understand why. You just never know who you can trust and we've all heard stories about people pretending to be broken down only to be waiting for their next victim. I guess the internet and all the police-type tv shows these days haven't helped, either. I'm a people watcher myself, from way back when. I never have a problem sitting and having nothing to do, which really isn't true because there are a lot of things we can do when it SEEMS there's nothing to do. But, it just upset me more to watch the people who watched me and passed on by. If just ONE person had asked if I was okay or if there was anything they could do for me (like a drink of water!), it would have made all the difference in my attitude. But.... Sigh. How's the baby? How's the Mom? How's Grandmom? We just had the baby shower for my son's partner on Sunday and are still watching and waiting. lol August 1st is right around the corner now and I'll join you in the ranks of GRAND.
@JenInTN (27565)
• United States
11 Jul 12
I know..people are scared because of the things they have seen and what all happens in the world. It would have been nice though. We are all great! I can not begin to explain the love I have for that little girl I have heard about the bond grandparents have but I never really understood that until now..lol. I will be thinking of you! Take care!
@AmbiePam (44656)
• United States
7 Jul 12
I figured a man or two would stop to ask if you needed help. I've broken down and people have stopped to help me. It's a shame people are either too scared to stop, or they just don't care.
@mentalward (14716)
• United States
7 Jul 12
Yeah, it sure is a shame. (This was part of my depression I mentioned on your discussion.) Not one single soul stopped to even ask if they could SEND help. That's what I would have done if I had seen an older woman broken down all by herself. The worst part of it was that I pulled in next to a police car with the cop sitting right there and he didn't even LOOK at me! I had gotten out, put up the hood of my car, was looking in it, under it, around it and he never budged. I guess they just don't want to do their job ("To Protect and To Serve") unless they absolutely HAVE to. It just helped to destroy my faith in humanity a bit more. I've helped several people on the road, doing whatever I could and I'm just a little female! Oh, I know there are some good people out there but I sure didn't meet a single one on this trip. Maybe I'll get more help than I need if this ever happens again. They'd help around here where I live, too. I guess a lot depends on where you are. I hope you're feeling better.
1 person likes this
@AmbiePam (44656)
• United States
7 Jul 12
That stinks. Even when my sister and BIL had a blowout this month, while they were waiting for a tow a highway patrolman stopped to ask if they needed help. Shame on the officer.
@KrauseHome (32392)
• United States
24 Jul 12
One time when we decided to drive from WA state to Montana, when my nephew who is now 20 was like 12. we ended up breaking down about 30 mins. from Great Falls MT where we were heading. Luckily since it was over 100 degrees, we broke down within walking distance of a restaurant where we could hang out. My brother in law showed up and helped get our Car towed to the town they lived in to be fixed. Problem was they just barely knew how to fix it. They did what they thought was right to where we could make it home, but we almost broke down again on the way home. Not too long after we got back home it broke down again and after getting it towed and looked at, we found out it was the Fuel pump, etc. So it was not a Fun experience for sure.