My older daughter and I were going to make a run into town today.
We decided against it.
The van started fine and we let the engine warm up before we started, but as I backed out of the garage, I was just not comfortable with how the engine sounded. So back into the garage it went and I plugged it back in.
We depend on that van too much for me to take any chances.
This is what we’re looking at for the next while.
When it’s warmer than -20C, the van seems to handle it much better. We won’t be seeing that for a while. When pay comes in at the end of the month, one of the things on the list is a trip to The City in the New Year, for a major stock-up on supplies. Things are supposed to warm up by then, too.
There is a reason for my paranoia over the van.
Many years ago, before we had kids and my husband was still in the military, we lived in Victoria, BC. A mistake in payroll in our favour found us with an unexpected surplus that Christmas, so we decided to surprise our family by renting a car and driving out for a visit.
Victoria has a much milder climate, so when we called rental companies, we specifically asked for a vehicle with a block heater.
Several times, we were asked, “what’s a block heater?”
No one had them. In the end, we went with a company that assured us that vehicles had all just had maintenance done on them, and it should be fine.
And it was.
Until we stopped in Swift Current, Saskatchewan for the night.
There were record breaking cold temperatures that night, including wind chills that hit as low as -61.
Amazingly, the car started fine, and we started driving. We got out of town before the noise started.
So we pulled over. It died, and never started again.
In the end, after two more nights in Swift Current, we took a train the rest of the way and got a replacement vehicle to drive home in. We later learned that the engine block cracked in the cold. After being reimbursed for various expenses, like the train tickets, we got a copy of the itemized list of costs from the insurance company. It cost the rental company some $5000 in the end.
Shortly after that, the owner of that franchise upgraded all their vehicles, and block heaters became standard.
Years later, we went back to rent a car for another road trip and discovered what happened to us had become legendary.
So, yes. I’m a little paranoid! Our van is an older vehicle, and even in a garage and plugged in, if it’s cold enough, no block heater is going to match it. It only keeps a small part of the engine warm, and we’ve got an alternator that screams when it gets cold to worry about.
It’s unfortunate that we were unable to get a newer vehicle, but beggars can’t be choosers. We got what we could afford. A vehicle is a necessity for us; more so now that we live in the boonies.