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It’s the little things in life

July 11, 2011

That can put you on the side of the freeway staring into the distance. Which is exactly what happened to us the other day.

A couple of weeks ago, the family packed up in a car we were borrowing from the future in-laws. Our car has been in serious need of some work so we didn’t feel comfortable taking it on a four hour trip to the Salt Lake area. But about a hundred miles from home the car sputtered out and left us with this beautiful view of the highway ahead.


This is outside of a town called Beaver, Utah. It was a nice town, and the home of Butch Cassidy. look it up I swear it’s true.

But the fact of the matter is that we were stuck on the side of the road, a hundred miles from home with only a few hundred dollars in our bank account to get home. Which,if you have ever been stuck like this, you know won’t get you very far.

All in all we came out on the lucky side of the deal. We found a tow truck operator that got us in town for right about a hundred dollars, a motel room for the night easily twenty+ less than anyone in town. And we were able to call on some friends of ours to help us out.


Here we are sitting at one of the many ultra-clean rest stops in the state of Utah. And when I say clean, I really mean clean. Like I would be willing to sit on a toilet without the paper ass-gasket. That clean. Of course I didn’t, you think I would really be that stupid?

We drug the car home and I placed it in a special position out in the front; curbside, where we could just the roll the fucker off. Then I did a Ronco Rotisserie, rolled it off, set it and forget it.

I was not feeling great about the whole thing. The car quits at 70, restart and sounds like every valve in it is rattling apart. My fear is that some very extensive and very mechanical had gone wrong at this point. My fussing with the car after it quit meant that I was able to get it to throw a CEL code out. But not a tool I keep in my arsenal, and the local parts houses wanted about a $200.00 rental fee.

So I started doing some research and found a very inexpensive OBDII to USB cable. Now this means it was most likely a knock-off of another style, but if it worked and gave me the basics of codes and simple diagnostics, I could live with that. And at fourteen dollars, it was a pretty small gamble. When the cable came in I tried it first in Linux, didn’t work – fuck. And then Wind0ws 7, worked – Fuck yeah.

So I checked codes on the Buick. P0300. A misfire on multiple cylinders. Well that’s fucking… helpful?

Actually it is a helpful message. My fear initially is that something went wrong with injectors, MAF sensor, etc. All of those test correct. So this means mechanical, which is easier to check, but can become much more catastrophic. So first thing is first, if it is showing a misfire check the ignition. Coil is testing goo, let’s yank the plugs…..


I haven’t picked up new plugs and wires yet, but after checking prices I will be in for less than fifty bucks. Not bad overall. Let’s hope that it is really the source of the issue. And while I feel a bit stupid for not noticing a car that was in such poor tune, I am both surprised and a bit scared at this possible revelation. Way back when, if your car was getting too far out of tune, it would miss and sputter and all sorts of other things as a warning sign. It may be that ignition system have reached a point where they are so powerful that might actually be able to keep going until they shit the bed….

Follow up will be coming soon.


  1. I used to work in a junk yard where we saw this a lot. Indeed, while older cars went through plugs every 6-12 thousand miles, because of the higher voltages and amperage of modern electronic ignitions, many cars are driven to their death beds on the first set of spark plugs. Many great cars are junked for this very reason and I told every new employee to never go in debt to buy a car, just wait until you see something pretty roll across the scale and talk to the boss after the seller leaves the yard.

    None of us working there (including the boss) drove new cars but we all drove nice cars. Got several killer deals in bikes too..

    PS. Just added you to the aggregator at Like Arnold, I’ll be back.

    • cshroom permalink

      Thanks Bill,

      Sadly enough that was only a symptom of larger problems. I had to tear the top down and found that nothing moved anymore on the top of the motor. So I let it go as a loss. It could have been simple, but it had let go at 75 MPH and I wasn’t feeling like it would be a good thing further in.

      And thanks for adding to bikerblogsaggregated. It looks like I have some new sites to read.

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