Thursday, January 21, 2010

A neutral idea . . .

In 1983, we bought a brand new Chevy conversion van. We comparison shopped in great depth and then went back to the very first dealership we had negotiated with. It was the best deal but we didn't know that until we looked further.

We chose the custom exterior paint, carpet, the captain's chairs and rear seat. We had a passenger chair located further back than usual to give BigEd the extra leg room he required if he was to be comfortable. We did like that vehicle.

We had it for a few weeks and I was the one who got to drive it to and from work because I worked much closer to home than J did.

I was on my way home to lunch one afternoon when the van took off, accelerating down 107 Avenue as if it needed to get there faster than I was willing to go. Brakes didn't slow it so I threw the gearshift into neutral and let it coast with the engine still roaring. While it was coasting, I turned the key to off and the engine obediently died. I turned it back on and it behaved normally. I drove it home and called the dealership.

We took it in for the dealer to see it the next morning. Of course it acted normally all the way to the dealer. The service supervisor told us he could not diagnose the problem unless it happened while it was there. He wanted a mechanic to take it for a test drive. The only thing we could say was go ahead.

We watched as the mechanic put paper over the carpet under his feet to keep it clean and drove off the lot. He was back within 7 minutes. It had accelerated with him on the Alton Road flyover. He shouted at the service supervisor that the d--n thing had nearly killed him.

They changed the upper carburetor and that did fix the problem. But I can still recall the helpless feel of the big vehicle roaring ahead on its own and not responding until I thought of throwing it into neutral gear.

What if I hadn't?


Big Ed said...

I remember you telling me what the mechanic said had happened to him before he fixed the problem. It was a long time ago. Glad that problem hasn't happened to me with the vehicles I've had.

Zeta said...

Only one in my life I could not stop a vehicle, which was due to waiting until the last mintute to repair them. Maybe beyond the last mintue to repair them. Not able to stop at a red light on US1, I made a right hand turn and allowed a solid white fence stop the car. It worked with a loud bang and very little damage to the car. The owner of the resturant parking lot I pulled into came outside to see what the loud bang was. After I told him what happened, he allowd me to take my time and have the car towed to a brake repair shop.

RANGER said...

Amazing what you learn after your children start to tell stories of their own pasts. Huh. I never heard about this one. You were a lucky duck.

Was the fence damaged? Thank heaven you weren't!!!

Zeta said...

The fence was made of concrete combined with solid wood. The well made fence structure did not budge. The white concrete posts with slates of wood were replaced with a chain link fence which was a big surprise.

ol Doc said...

Glad to know nobody was harmed in either incident. And yes, it's amazing the things you learn from your grown children when they realize Mom probably can't catch them to spank them now and couldn't hit them hard enough to raise a whelt if she did manage to get close.