Posts Tagged ‘car trouble’

My wife, son and I were driving from seeing a friend.
The engine temperature indicator started flashing red. We stopped for lunch.
After lunch, the car started okay. We drove maybe 2.2km metres then the car stalled, just behind Junction. I pushed it to the side of the road, which was quite a task, because the middle part of the road was raised higher than the sides.
Get a new battery? Call a friend for help? Stop a car to jump start?

Jumper cable

Jumper cable. Free pic from http://morguefile.com/creative/cohdra

A pickup drove by and my wife, being the one who is more inclined to talking to strangers, asked them to help.
The pickup turned and parked next to our car, partly blocking the one lane of the road.

We successfully jump-started the car.
We gave the helpful men 200/- and drove off.

The car stalled again near The Junction, not very far from where we had jump-started it.
I again pushed the car about 140m into the mall’s parking lot.
I called our mechanic and spoke to him about battery specifications, so we’d know which battery to get.
We went into Nakumatt and bought new battery.
The car started nicely and we drove off again.

We had gone maybe 3.2km (two miles) when the indicator started flashing again, and, sure enough, the car stopped.
We paused there a few moments.
I started the car and drove off the road.
A cop came to complain that we should not park on the road.
Really, Mr Officer? You think I just decided to park on the road?

I took a matatu (public transport minibus) to a petrol station about 1 km away
How much is coolant?
600/- said one attendant.
650/-, said another.
I paid 600/-
There was a paper on one of the pumps that indicated that coolant was 510/-
Back to the car.
Added coolant. Started again and drove off.
2.5 km on, the car stalled near another petrol station. We managed to get it into the station.
An attendant said car was overheating. He seemed surprised that we did not know this.
He added water to the car’s engine. We waited a bit and finally went home well.

Lesson firmly learnt: When the engine temperature indicator flashes, just add coolant or water. Better still, check coolant levels in the morning when the car is still cool and top up as necessary. (Opening the cover when the engine is hot usually results in the release of lots of hot steam and hot water, hence the morning time).




Car Trouble 1

car Trouble 2


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Twende Mlolongo

Twende Mlolongo (Photo credit: Dan Kori)

Last week, I took two days off to supervise some work that was being done in our house. The road from the main road (Mombasa Road) to our estate is being renovated. The contractor has not quite provided an alternative route, so cars have resorted to driving on the field that is next to the road. This field has some grass, but when it rains, most of the road that the cars have made on the field is muddy. My wife is constantly afraid of getting stuck in this mud. It had been raining that week. As I prepared to leave the house (and drive onto the field), she kept calling me and asking if I had left. It would soon be dark. She told me to call her when I successfully reach the tarmacked road. I asked God for an uneventful journey.

I finally drove out of the estate, onto the partly renovated part of the road (maybe 20 metres?), then off that part and onto the first muddy part. No trouble there. There was a building on my right that was blocking my view of the main field. The road curved to the right past this building, and when I took this curve, I saw a car a few metres ahead of me. It was stationary and there were maybe seven men around it apparently trying to get it out of the mud. It was facing the same direction as I was. If that car is stuck, will I make it? I paused behind the stuck car to allow oncoming vehicles to pass it.
When they had passed, one of the men motioned that I should pass where those cars had passed, which meant driving into a puddle of brown water. I could not tell how deep this puddle was. I wondered if the man was misleading me so that I could also get stuck and get assisted for a fee. I however drove where he suggested and passed the stuck vehicle. There was another narrow place that also allowed one car at a time. I again waited for oncoming vehicles to pass, as I evaluated how deep they sank on the water. I also considered using another route altogether (This is a field, so it is entirely up to the driver to decide where they want to drive). I decided to stick with what seemed to be working for others rather than risk getting stuck in a self-created route. I passed that portion without incident. I drove rather fast, in order not to give the car a chance to sink into the mud, slid a bit here and there, and was soon on the phone with my wife.

I encountered some traffic further down the road and we all moved slowly forward. Then the car went silent. I tried switching on the hazards. Nothing. “Wake up, move!” a hawker yelled from the side of the road. Then he realised that I was actually awake. I called our mechanic. Fortunately, he answered.
Check the terminals, he said.
I unlocked the bonnet, got out (cars were now driving past me), locked the car door, lest and enterprising thief opens the door, grabs something from the car and makes off with it. I feared the battery terminals would be hot, but apparently they were not. I checked them and they seemed fine. I called the mechanic and told him this.
Just fiddle with them a bit. I twisted the connection back and forth a little. I unlocked the car door and got back in. Tested hazards. They started blinking. Tried starting the car. It started. I got back out to close the bonnet. Locked the car door, lest an enterprising thief… Closed the bonnet. Got back in. Drove away. I called te mechanic and he said he could have a look at it the next day . Then I called my wife and told her the car had stalled. she started getting concerned before I told her the problem had been fixed. I had forgotten to use the lifesavers that we had bought for situations just like this.

I remembered a conversation we once had with a pal of ours as we were passing Ngong Forest, where we usually pass on our way home. The convesation went something like this:
“We once saw a car stuck here, then we saw a guy walking with a jerrycan towards the petrol station. We wanted to give him a ride, but we were not sure whether or not it was  a setup”
“Don’t dare. That place is very bad. That is how they trick people.”
“That is what we feared.”
“That is a bad place.”
“But it may be a genuine case!”
“There is nothing like genuine case. Don’t stop. You will get robbed!”

Our friend was categorical.

I thought, what if I had gotten stuck at that dangerous place? I thanked God for taking me safely home.

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Last week, a friend invited us to her birthday celebration at the (Golden?) Spur Steak Restaurant at the Holiday Inn, Nairobi. On Thursdays, they have all-you-can-eat pork ribs for KShs 1,500/= (about US$18) per person. For those not familiar with Nairobi food prices, that would be the price of maybe 30 wholemeal loaves of bread. Or you could buy five meals at regular eating places. All the same, all-you-can-eat still sounded good.

So we went, ordered and the meat came. It comes with fries or potatoes or something else that I can’t remember, and salad. The meat was del.i.c.i.o.u.s! It was tender, tasty and peeled of the bone with ease. I think it was well worth the money. Now I hope to try out other places offering similar deals.

This was several servings after arrival

In other news, a follow-up to this story, I went again to Nakumatt Westgate to look for a scissor jack for the car. no luck. I walked over to Nakumatt Ukay and behold! They had scissor car jacks! I think out car weighs about a ton, and the jack for a ton costs slightly less (KShs. 1,295/=) than the one for 1.5 tons (1,595/=). I decided to play it safe and bought the bigger(?) one. I also bought a fire extinguisher and First Aid kit to have in the car as required by law. (Yes, my salary had come in 🙂 ).

Torin Scissor Jack

Now I need not fear a puncture. Speaking of punctures and related, my dad taught me how to change a car tyre when I was quite young. Maybe 8 or 10 or so, I really can’t remember. I intend to pass that on when the time is right.

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