Well, it finally happened. With as much driving and towing as I do Max, my truck works hard. I had a tow vehicle breakdown in the middle of nowhere. I do my best to take good care of him with all the recommended maintenance.
Tow Vehicle Breakdown – It Was Bound To Happen Eventually
Last week I was towing through southeast Arizona and stopped at Texas Canyon rest area. I noticed a particular old grease smell, like when you’re around old heavy equipment. Being in the rest area surrounded by semi-trucks I really didn’t think anything of it and continued on.
I drove through Tucson and stopped for the night just outside Phoenix at a Casino then continued on the next day. My destination was some BLM land about 30 miles east of Quartzsite. I arrived around noon on Friday and noticed that smell again. I literally sniffed around the truck to locate the source. It was definitely coming from the area of the rear wheels and axle. I’d do some research online later to see what it might be.
After setting up our campsite I began searching online and came up with some ideas. We went outside and started looking around and that’s when I noticed there was some sort of oily fluid splattered all around the rear undercarriage of the truck…and on Bridget, my Airstream. Houston, we have a problem! According to doctor google, the problem was in the differential.
I remembered noticing that my odometer was getting close to 60,000 miles and decided to see if Max still had any warranty left. The powertrain warranty is, indeed 60,000 miles and my odometer read exactly 59,983 miles. Yikes! Thus began a logistical nightmare.
The nearest Ford dealers were both more than 40 miles away. If I drove the truck to one, I’d be over my warranty. If I had the truck towed what would I do with the trailer? There wasn’t much I could do until Monday morning and I was just fine right where I was parked so I tried to enjoy my weekend and not worry about the situation.
Monday morning I called both dealers and the one in Parker, AZ scheduled me for Thursday morning. The other dealership in Blythe, CA wouldn’t be able to get me in for two weeks. Parker Ford, it is! I also called Ford to see if I could somehow have them note that I was having this issue before I hit 60,000 miles. The general feeling I got was when you hit 60,000 the warranty is over, period. Although, nobody was willing to commit one way or the other.
I knew I would need to empty my tanks soon and we needed to be in a place where we had hookups because I had no idea how long Max would be in the shop. I have AAA + RV roadside assistance and I was considering having AAA tow both the truck and trailer but I had to move to a normally trafficked road because they don’t tow if you are more than 10 feet off a regular road.
While I was searching for a place to have my Airstream towed I realized there were a couple of RV Parks within a few miles of my location. I called the closest one and they had space for me.
Wednesday morning I towed the trailer to the RV park and got set up. It was only 5 miles from my boondocking spot so I still had 12 miles left on my warranty. I started working on arranging to have Max towed for my Thursday at 8 am appointment. Ford had told me they would tow the truck up to 50 miles at no charge so I started with them. After a couple of hours, I just gave up. I’m not sure what the problem was but they couldn’t find me in their system to look up the warranty information.
I called AAA around 2 pm and set the tow for that afternoon. About an hour later they called and told me there was nobody available to tow the truck and asked if it could wait until the following day. If I had been broken down along the road, what would I have done? Not cool AAA, not cool. I told them it had to be at Parker Ford by 8 am the following day and they promised me they’d have someone out here by 6:30 am.
Thursday morning I got a text from AAA letting me know the truck would be there by 7:45 am. I think I was just all out of fight by then because really what could I do? The driver arrived at 7:45 am as promised and loaded poor Max up onto the flatbed and drove him away. I called the Parker Ford at 8 am to tell them we would be late.
Later that day, the service technician called to let me know the problem is the pinion seal and they would need to order the part. Shipping would take two days so the truck wouldn’t be ready until Monday or Tuesday and oh, it’s not covered by the warranty. What? Why? He said he didn’t know why and he just puts the information in and the paper spits out telling them if it’s covered or not.
Knowing this to be a part of the powertrain and knowing there are 12 miles left on my warranty, I was not going down without a fight. I called Ford Customer Care again and started asking questions. Basically, she told me the paper they get at the shop tells them exactly why things are or are not covered under warranty and I should call them back. By then I was just angry and had lost my trust in Parker Ford completely. Not that I ever fully trust these types of situations.
I called the Parker Ford back and asked for the service manager. He was out of the office. The operator really wanted to transfer me back to the service department but I held my ground. I told her the issue and she said she would get the document and leave it with a note for the service manager.
About 30 minutes later the man who told me it wasn’t covered called me back. He began by apologizing profusely and then told me he had read the document incorrectly and I really was covered. Now, I’m not one to call someone a liar easily but, how many of those forms do you think he has read during his career there? It just seems awfully fishy to me.
So, here we are in the middle of nowhere again. It’s good here and the outcome seems to be favorable for us so I feel better about the whole thing. I really like this little park and I’m going to do a full post about it and our time here. This will make a great story when I’m 95 and rocking on the porch with my great-grandkids. For now, we just sit tight and wait for next week when we will hopefully get a healthy Max back from Parker Ford and be on our way to somewhere exciting like maybe Sedona. Who knows?
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