I’m getting really tired of this van

*sigh*

What a day.

Things started off well enough.

Susan got to watch the piebald deer chasing the other two regulars away.

I discovered a strange, furry fruit in the Korean Lilac!

Once outside with the kibble, I was greeted by a very dishevelled Potato Beetle. He headed into the sun room to eat, as usual, so I closed the door to keep him in!

The Distinguished Guest was looking ever more dishevelled than Potato Beetle, making it clear who else was involved.

From the many tufts of long, black, with the occasional white, fur around the kibble house, I’d say Potato Beetle had the upper hand in this battle!

Yeah, that’s blood in the snow, too.

By the time I got back from shopping, several hours later, Potato Beetle was looking a lot better, though with some new scratches on his nose. So when he wanted out while we were loading things into the house, we let him be.

My trip to the city didn’t quite go as planned.

Our big city shopping routine now usually includes a stop at Canadian Tire, first, where we pick up the wood pellets we use for litter. While there, I got more seed starting mix and more trays to fit the mini-greenhouse shelves, and a few other things.

It was snowing lightly in the city, so when I loaded up the van, there was melted snow on the windshield, and the streets were wet and messy, so while going to the nearby international grocery store, I had to use my wipers.

They didn’t work.

All I heard was the sound of them moving lower down into their recess under the hood, and that was it.

When I parked, I tried again, and I could hear that they were trying to move, but they could do nothing more than wiggle a bit. I popped the hood, which is the only way to access them, and they were slightly overlapping each other, but I could see nothing obvious that would be a problem.

Thankfully, I have a long handled windshield cleaner. It’s meant for the inside of the windshield, but i had paper towel in the van, too, so I was able to give the outside of the windshield a good cleaning before heading into the store.

Costco, in another part of the city, would have been my last stop. Since I didn’t want to be driving on messy streets with no wipers, I decided to instead to go a nearby Superstore. It meant getting a lot less than I wanted to, since at Costco I have access to a flat cart and can really load up, but half a shop is better than no shop!

When I finished loading up the van and was getting ready to go, I noticed something.

The check engine light was back on.

That light has been on since we had the EGR valve replaced. It got looked at, the code reset, only to turn on again almost immediately. Our mechanic tried to clean the lines as best he could after replacing the valve, but there are still bits of crud he couldn’t get at, and those are likely tripping the sensor. Since we hardly used the van last year, we didn’t take it back in. Our mechanic reset the code when he replaced the alternator.

I hooked up my OBDII reader, got the codes, screen captured them, and texted them to our mechanic. It’s Sunday, so he’s closed, but he’ll at least be able to see them tomorrow.

Before continuing on, I went through the displays from our onboard computer, which I do fairly regularly.

There was something odd.

When I picked up the van, I went through the displays and the battery read at 15 volts. I don’t remember ever seeing it at higher than 14.4 volts, so that stuck in my mind.

It was now reading 13 volts.

I had the heat, lights and a CD playing. With a brand new alternator, it should still have been at full charge.

I decided to monitor it while driving.

It kept dropping.

By the time I reached the highway to home, it was down to 12.4 volts.

On a hunch, I turned off the CD.

It immediately began to increase, eventually topping up at 14.6 volts and holding.

On the trip home, I drive through the town my mother lives in, which is the only place the speed limit is reduced. Once I was clear and back at highway speeds, I turned the music back on.

It held at 14.6 volts.

Great! Just some weird glitch or something.

When I got home, I had to back the van up to the small gate for unloading. I pulled partially into the garage so I would have space to turn the van around and maneuver to the gate.

In the minute or so that took, the battery was down to 12.2 volts.

!!!

I shut the music off, then the engine, and we unloaded. Leaving the girls to put the groceries away, I parked the van in the garage, which did not require any manoeuvring. Just one wide turn, taking maybe 30 seconds.

With the music off, the battery was back up to 14.2 by the time I parked it in the garage.

What the heck???

So I need to pass that on to our mechanic, too. This should not be happening! Not with a brand new alternator.

We have actually had something similar happen to us in the past, long, long ago. We bought an old car that had been sitting for many years, and one of the first things it needed was a new battery. We even got a high end one. Then we had some other work done to fix it up from being parked for so long, including a new alternator. The battery immediately started to die. If we had the radio, lights and wipers on at the same time, it would stall and we’d need a boost to get it going again.

Not fun while driving in downtown Victoria, BC, in a downpour, at night!

We took it to a different garage, the mechanic took one look and said, “that’s the wrong size alternator” and got us the right one. There was nothing wrong with the first alternator; it just couldn’t handle the power needs of the vehicle.

When we went back to the first place (a Canadian Tire), they said they would reimburse us if we could provide the computer printout to prove it was the wrong alternator, but the garage that fixed it was old school. They never hooked it up to a computer, because they could just see at a glance, that it was the wrong one for that car. So we never got our money back for the first mix up.

This is not the kind of mistake our mechanic would make. At least, I don’t think so! However, I have noticed odd electrical… gremlins… in the van, for some time. Things would start working, then stop, then start again. Loose wires, perhaps? The radio is particularly weird. It doesn’t always turn on or off until after several tries, and if we’re on a bumpy road, the volume will start adjusting itself up or down, and the knob for the volume doesn’t work right away. Which sometimes has us frantically spinning the knob, trying to turn down the volume, only to have it keep getting louder before it finally kicks in.

Whatever the problem is, it’s not showing up on the sensors.

We just got the van back, for crying out loud!!!

Can we win that lottery now? Please? πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰

The Re-Farmer

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