They say that Fate is a cruel taskmistress. I believe it to be so. As if this trip already hadn’t had enough surprises, the road home gave me one more twist.
I drive an eco diesel pickup—the Maroon Marauder (as I call her). The newer diesels have an ingenious method for reducing emissions. They spray uric acid (also known as Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF)) into the exhaust. The reaction reduces those nasty things that made diesels so smelly and horrible in the past. Well, I’m minding my own business, looking forward to being home. I’m in the wilds of Montana when I get a message from my truck: “DEF system failure. See Dealer.”
I’m thinking, OK. I’ll be back in a day and a half. I have two repairs on my truck that need to be performed when I get home anyway. I’ll just add this to my list when I go into the dealer.
I’m all fine and good until thirty minutes later the message changes to: “DEF system failure. Vehicle will not restart after 200 miles.” This began a countdown of mileage. Oh, fudge.
Luckily (he says with a bit of sarcasm), Bozeman, MT was just thirty miles away. I pulled into the dealership in town with one hundred sixty-ish miles left on my countdown. I go inside to find out that they can’t even put my truck up on a lift for three days. Calling about, I find no relief for that three-day period.
Now a little issue that I’ve failed to put out there… My son’s wedding was in about eleven days, so I have a deadline.
I looked into several options: renting an RV spot for a week, including renting an alternative tow vehicle (none available), renting a hotel room (ludicrous cost as it is the height of the season).
Eventually, the only feasible option that presents itself is an RV spot about thirty miles away. I will rent it for the week and see how it goes. So off I go to park my tentative home for the week. Along the way, the countdown and message about the failure went away.
“What do I do now?” I thought. “Is it still counting or did it just go silent?”
I end up going and talking to the dealer again and the answer is inconclusive… Only that it failed at some point and isn’t failed now. Can I succeed in going the rest of the eight hundred miles? No one is willing to commit. I do ask what it means by saying it wouldn’t restart. What if I keep going and never turn it off? Apparently, after the two hundred miles it would throttle my speed to five miles an hour if I dropped below 15mph. After fifty miles it would shut down the engine. I wallowed in angst for some time before making the decision to press on.
It appears I made the right choice. I never got the message again. I was able to travel without interference the rest of the way home.
Thus ends one of the more eventful Great Road Trips.