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Road scare 
9th-Jul-2008 08:32 am
Was driving into work this morning and had a bit of a scare. I was on the highway when all of a sudden the driving wheel became very sluggish. I had to use alot of force in order to turn the car. I also discovered that the brakes were also sluggish and I had to press on them hard in order to slow down. I glanced down at the gauges and found that the gas tank read empty! This was strange since I knew there was still about half a tank full the previous day. My first thought was to a news report I had heard on the radio that because of the soaring price of gas, some people have had gas stolen from their tanks. It was hard to believe since my condo unit has fairly good security.

Luckily there were several things going for me. I do try to keep a good distance from the car in front of me, esp on a highway, I was at an interchange between two highways so cars had to slow down for a turn and I was on the very left hand lane next to a median so it was very easy to turn off to the side patch of road between the median and the lane.

I immediately turned off to the side and stopped. I looked at the other gauges. They all read zero. I also noticed that all of the dash board lights were off. This seemed odd if it was just the gas tank being empty. I decided to try turning the engine off and then back on again. That worked! Everything was back to normal. The gas gauge read half again. Whew! A very nice driver let me back into the lane and I proceeded, nervously, to work; watching the gauges periodically, just in case.

Got to work without further incident. Hopefully it will only be a one time incident. Have no idea what happened. If it happens again, I'll have to take it into a garage to have it checked out.
Twin Souls
9th-Jul-2008 12:48 pm (UTC)
Horrid when that happens. Mine suddenly refused to accelerate when I had just moved into the fast lane...and limped along for about 20 mins (I was just looking for somewhere to turn to go home instead of continuing my journey) until it just righted itself. I put it down to a bit of dirt or air or something in the tank but it worried me that it would happen again for quite a while after..

Cars..can't live with 'em......
9th-Jul-2008 01:32 pm (UTC)
Sigh. Yes you can't with 'em...

20 minutes? That must have been scary.
9th-Jul-2008 12:59 pm (UTC)
That was scary, I know how you feel, back when I first passed my test and was using Beth's very old Astra when she didn't want it I went over a bump and the car started to shake with the worst of it under the bonnet. I was on the Valley by pass at the time where the limit was 50 but very close to where I could get off to the old road with a limit of 30 and when I dropped down to that the shuddering got less but did not go away. It took me 2.5 miles to find a piece of road that did not already have a car parked on it but when I did I phoned Beth who phoned the AA and got a neighbour to bring her to where I was. When the nice man from the AA finally found us he discovered that a bracket supporting the engine had rusted badly and when I had gone over the bump it had sheared. It's lucky that the Ford stable has 3 brackets holding the engine not 2 or it might have fallen out completely. Yours sound more like a problem with the electrics which if you have a car under ten years old probably started in the on board computer, most cars have them now the best of luck getting back home these faults can be intermittent and difficult to find, or so I'm told, sorry to be a Job's comforter.
9th-Jul-2008 01:34 pm (UTC)
It is definitely nerve-wracking. It does sound like a problem with the electrics. If it happens again, I'll take it in to be checked.
9th-Jul-2008 12:59 pm (UTC)
Oh no - we have had petrol and oil stolen here as well.

I had similar happen once when I was driving on a 3 lane motorway afetr dark ... lost power, lights etc - That was the alternator - luckily I didn't hit anything - but I do know how scary it can be.

Hope that whatever is wrong is not too expensive! Otherwise the teleport bracelets will have to come out again!
9th-Jul-2008 01:37 pm (UTC)
Fortunately the car is still under warranty so I don't have to worry about that.

Another thing which also tends to be stolen in uncertain economic times seems to be manhole covers. I heard a report on the radio the other day saying that there have been a rash of manhole cover thefts. Seems that theives can sell the metal.
9th-Jul-2008 08:02 pm (UTC)
Hadn't heard of the manhole cover theft ... I can start the trend over here, as they are all still in place I will soon be rich!!
9th-Jul-2008 01:48 pm (UTC)
I heard the crooks are also going after catalytic converters for the bit of precious metal in them (platinum &?). You find out its gone by starting your car and hear it roar like a jet engine.

Is there any way you could get this checked out when it's not malfunctioning? I hate to have to wait until a problem repeats (especially one like THIS) before tracking it down.
9th-Jul-2008 01:50 pm (UTC)
I could bring it in and have them run it through their computer diagnostics but I'm not sure if that will do any good. From what I've been hearing about electrical problems, they do tend to be intermittent and are hard to track down.
9th-Jul-2008 02:05 pm (UTC)
If it's in warranty & won't cost & you could spare the time, it might be worth a try. You never know, a small chance isn't the same as no chance. There's a place here that you can ask as expert for advice (I think it costs $15.)

9th-Jul-2008 03:18 pm (UTC)
I know you said you turned the engine off, but had it stopped running before you did that? Heavy brakes and steering sounds like the servos aren't in operation, but they need the engine to power them. I get the same effect if I've stopped the car at the top of our drive to unload shopping and then decide to let it run down to the garage at the bottom under gravity instead of restarting the engine.

I've had two intermittent faults with cars. One was fuel starvation in the winter in my old Lada. That turned out to be ice in the carburettor at certain flow rates. The more recent one was a general warning light coming on for no apparent reason. We finally tracked it down when I spotted that the temperature gauge suddenly registered a high temperature for a second or two. And that gace the garage the clue it needed to find a faulty temperature sensor.

I'm glad you had somewhere safe to stop and sort yourself out.
9th-Jul-2008 03:25 pm (UTC)
Yes, I'm glad too. Of all the places and times on the highway it could have happened, that was probably one of the safest.

Hm actually I'm not sure if the engine had stopped running. The car was still moving but that could have just been inertia. All I know is that after the car was stopped, the entire panel was not registering as being on.

It's hot here so ice is not a problem and I haven't noticed any warning lights.
9th-Jul-2008 10:49 pm (UTC)
It sounds like an electrical or even on-board computer problem to me if a reboot worked. I'd have it checked out ASAP.
9th-Jul-2008 11:17 pm (UTC)
I've decided to bring the car in this weekend to have it checked out. Better to be safe than run the risk of having it happen again. Hopefully they'll be able to find out the cause.
10th-Jul-2008 07:06 am (UTC)
Please get it checked out, what you said about sluggish brakes is especially scary. I'm glad your okay.
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