Stranded With the Focus

Overall, the Focus has been a great car. It has well over 200,000 miles on it and has never left me stranded. As you can tell from reading this blog, I have been everywhere with it. I guess my lucky streak came to an end when I was coming back from Wisconsin.

I was watching the sunset as I was driving through Iowa.

As it became darker, I noticed my dash was very dim. I had some dash lights burned out, so I thought another one burned out.

All of a sudden, while driving, I lost my gauges and also the dash basically blacked out. I could see the headlights were illuminated enough other cars could see me, so I limped it to the nearest exit and nearby town. I pulled off on a side street and turned the car off. It wouldn’t start anymore. I called AAA for roadside assistance. I came to find out AAA is worth its weight in gold and then some.

A tow truck from Tim’s Amoco in Ankeny, Iowa came and got my car.

Now I’ve had a battery go bad before and it faded out and did not just die. I thought it might just be the battery and not the actual alternator. The driver tested the battery, and it did show up as bad. He could have easily sold me another battery, but he asked where I got it from. I then mentioned AutoZone, and he made a quick call to the AutoZone down the street. He then took me to this AutoZone, and I was able to swap the battery, which I had replaced 6 months prior, with a new battery under warranty.

He swapped the battery for me, and I was on my way. I was impressed with how they went out of their way and didn’t try to just sell me a new battery. For a while, my dash was lit up again, but the battery ended being a symptom of the problem, and I experienced the same issue right before I crossed into Missouri.

This time I made it to the end of Exit 4 right next to the stop sign on I35 in Iowa. I had to make another call to AAA. The place the car was towed to was just down the road from where I was broken down. I waited for a tow truck to come. The first tow truck came, but the hydraulics were bad in the flatbed lift, so he had to grab another one. He came back with the second truck and started getting my car loaded on it.

Well, his first attempt had my car hanging off the side, so he had to carefully pull forward.

I then had to get in the car and steer it for him. This time, it was fully on the truck.

It was getting late, and there was a Super 8 next door to the shop. The shop was luckily open on that Saturday and they told me I’d be on the road by noon. I went to my hotel room to get some sleep.

Being in kind of a rural area, the view outside the hotel the next morning reminded me of when I woke up in the hotel in Morris, Manitoba on my way to Winnipeg.

It was nice they had breakfast. It was definitely a lot more basic than what I’m used to at La Quintas.

After breakfast, I walked next door to the shop. I got there right when the first worker was arriving. I had to wait for the longest time in their waiting room, and nobody ever came and talked to me or even wrote up a service ticket, but they did get it done in the time they said. They wrote up the service ticket at the end and $535 later, I had a new alternator.

Now the weird thing is, after I had paid, the guy asked me if I was running drugs. Now this question took me aback a bit because it is just weird someone would ask you that. I guess, like border crossings, he must have been suspicious all the miles I had on my car and the fact I had Texas plates on it. I just told him I was visiting family in Wisconsin and actually worked for a state law enforcement agency in Texas. I went on my way and was able to make it back to Texas way later that night.

My dash was lit up like it should (considering the burnt out lights) when I got back to Texas. I guess in a way it sucks being stranded on the road, but I can say I almost got a quarter million miles out of the original alternator, and I did find that AAA is definitely worth what you pay for it.

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