Fixable problems that can temporarily stop your car

Submitted: Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 02:08
ThreadID: 76912 Views:7262 Replies:21 FollowUps:9
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Hi All, I'm interested to learn of other travellers car problems that have stopped their car or made travel worrisome and later found out it was potentially an easy fix? For example, faulty radiator cap causing overheating OR faulty earthing point on chasis causing electrical failure OR flat immobiliser battery making it nigh impossible to start the car. It could make a useful collection for future reference [e.g. when stuck in the outback] or summarising and adding to EO's article collection! cheers,
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Reply By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 08:57

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 08:57
G'day Green,

A leaking radiator in an older triton - fixed by desoldering the top tank and resoldering (probably a little hard with plastic these days). A leaking (cracked) fuel pump in a landrover - soldered as well (this lasted 2 months). Most common have been problems with trailers - just repair them on the road. Always take a welder and spares.

One intersting fix was a hi tensile suspension bolt was lost on the triton (another one to above) and fortunately someone had a recovery hook that had not been fitted to their car that had the exact size bolt as part of the kit. Sometimes you can be just lucky with problems.

Kind regards
AnswerID: 409043

Reply By: Member - Oldplodder (QLD) - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 09:26

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 09:26
Fuel tank cracks, and fuel leak.

Fixed with minties. Chew first to soften.

AnswerID: 409047

Reply By: Member - Serendipity(WA) - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 10:15

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 10:15
Yes a good topic. And I have had a few happen.

Once when we had a group staying with us in the NT we took both cars out camping and my wife's car stopped for no apparent reason. We had recently purchased this second hand Rav 4.

On inspection I found the fuel filter was totally clogged. Special toyota part. With lots of shaking to loosen up and some compressed air from the air compressor normally for pumping tyres all fixed.

At the same time I noticed a wet patch on the underside of the fuel tank. By scratching with my finger nail a rust hole appears which also explained why the fuel filter was blocked. Must have been water in the tank. I always carry some metal cement and with a small blob worked into the hole it was fixed. After the trip we replaced the whole fuel tank and filter.

With my old 1986 landcruiser not long after I purchased it, driving in city traffic I suddenly with a bang find the rear long axle has broken all the studs holding it in. I rolled to a stop on the side of the road a looked quite perplexed at this axle sticking out from the hub. Well the only solution is to chuck the axle in the back, lock the front hubs in, put it into 4x4 and just keep driving. Did that for the next 2 days until I could get a new hub, with studs etc.

Once a few years back - same 1986 cruiser we are on a big family holiday over in Queensland and having just finished a great week at the theme parks we are heading north to go to Fraser Isand. Coming down a hill into Mackay and there is an almighty heavy duty rattle from underneath. Upon inspection in the carpark at woolies I find it is the front plate of the rear diff has come loose. It was stinking hot at xmas time and lying on hot tarmac under a hot car is not my idea of xmas holidays. I took of the tailshaft and end up looking at a huge nut. Damn - nobody has one this size. Over to the local auto shop and purchase a 32mm socket. Then how tight do you do this one. Too tight and you will crush the spacer and overload the front bearing resulting in failure, too loose and it will just come loose again. Over to the local (holden) dealer ship and talk to a mechanic. Yeah, just whatever I can get it too under the car - rough talk setting F.B.T. All fixed and on our way.

As a side note while I am under there tightening and refitting the tailshaft the heavens opened up and I happened to park next to the deepest drain in the carpark, which was blocked. Within minutes there is a 4inch deep pool next to me and getting deeper with torrential tropical down pour, me tightening bolts while sliding side ways as the pool starts to reach under the car. Finally lying in only 1 inch of water I get it all together.

I have more, lots more.

Later

David

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Follow Up By: Member - mazcan - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 13:06

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 13:06
hi
interesting story but i think your vehicle was sadly lacking pre-trip maintenance
on each occasion
hope you have beeter luck these days
cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - Serendipity(WA) - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 13:38

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 13:38
Hi Mazcan

I do put a lot of effort into pretrip maintenance but the Queensland trip I had covered over 2500km from Darwin with camper before having a front plate of the rear diff come loose and I would challenge anyone to predict that happening. Further that is not something you can just tighten when doing a precheck.

As for my wifes Rav4 - we had only just purchased it 6months prior and again who would know it was carrying some water in the fuel tank slowly rusting through from the inside.

Be fair - you can't check or even foresee these things happening so I think your comment is a bit harsh.

And further I was prepared with equipment and did fix the issue.

David


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Follow Up By: Alloy c/t - Wednesday, Mar 17, 2010 at 11:45

Wednesday, Mar 17, 2010 at 11:45
'Heading north to Fraser island , coming down a hill into Mackay', methinks you need to invest in a compass and a map !!
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Follow Up By: Member - Serendipity(WA) - Wednesday, Mar 17, 2010 at 14:10

Wednesday, Mar 17, 2010 at 14:10
Yeah sorry my mistake

Not being very familiar with east coast - that town you turn off to get to inskip point.

Gympie???

It was some years ago and we passed through lots of towns. Is there a Mackay around there somewhere.

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Follow Up By: Welldone WA - Wednesday, Mar 17, 2010 at 21:20

Wednesday, Mar 17, 2010 at 21:20
After nearly a year of very careful and meticulous preparation of 4 Landcruisers towing 4 equally prepared camper trailers; we left Perth in June 1998 for Wiluna, GBH to Giles then passed Lassiter's Cave, Docker River and onto The Olgas, Uluru, Kings Canyon, Palm Valley, Alice springs and up to Gemtree [Hart's Range] the back to Alice and down the Old Ghan line, to Chambers Pillar then across the NT/SA border to MT Dare through gibber country to Dalhousie springs then Oodnadatta, Marla south through Coober Pedy, Port Augusta, Adelaide and finally working our way westwards back to Perth . This was a long trip over some very hard terrain that caused several unforeseen "mechanical incidences" to occur. There were 4 "interesting" ones that come to mind:-

1/ About half a day east of Carnegie one of the camper trailers with slipper springs on a single axle had one of the slipper springs shear off at the knuckle, causing the axle to move backwards at an unnatural angle, preventing any further progress. The fix was to take off the wheel and remove the offending spring, then securely rope the axle back into place tying it to the draw bar and also to the back of the trailer. Next a coilspring was "donated" by an upturned wrecked ute on the side of the track, this coil spring was cut to length and a hole drilled into the trailer's chassis rail into which the top of the spring was "screwed", the bottom was wired to the axle. The wheel had to be put on "inside out" because it rubbed against the coil spring if fitted the right way round. This repair lasted all the GBH and beyond until we reached Alice Springs, where proper leaf springs were purchased and installed.

2/ The next was a HJ75 burst a radiator core one and a half days northeast of Jackie's Junction.The fix was to remove the radiator , cut and crimp over the damage core and seal the ends with epoxy putty then re-install and refill. This successfully made it all the way to Adelaide.

3/ Coming out of Chambers Pillar, we stopped for a quick toilet break at a fork in the track. Due to a lack of covering vegetation, one of the ladies squatted behind the vehicle and while down there , noticed that the HJ75's rear diff was dripping oil. Dragging a trailer over extremely rough terrain had caused the 10 diff housing bolts to work loose. The fix was an easy re-tightening the bolts and topping up the appropriate oil. A potentially severe problem was averted by a fortuitous observation by one person with other things on their mind.

4/ Finally, I tore a front spring bracket clean off the chassis on my old HJ45 while negotiating the very testing track between Dalhousie springs and Oodnadatta.The fix involved connecting 3 batteries in series with jumper-leads and welding the wayward bracket back in place with several stainless steel welding rods using a pair of vicegrips attached to a jumper-lead as the hand piece. This repair has had no further work done on it and remains sound till this day , some 12 years later.

The 4 above examples show that things happen that no matter how much the amount of thorough preparation could prevent. On this trip were many punctures and other mechanical repairs [including amongst other things; buggered tie-rod ends, partial brake failure, broken axle studs and a gear-box that limped into Adelaide with only 4th gear still working] .
The lessons learnt are:-

A/ Early detection can save a lot of grief later. Make a habit of very time you stop to walk around your rig looking for things that aren't "normal". Feel the temperature of your wheel hubs, rock the wheels to see if there is excessive play.

B/ Don't Panic!! Take time out to think through to the best solution for a given problem, a beverage [either hot or cold] greatly aids the thought process before tackling the job at hand, especially if the area concerned needs to cool down.

C/ Expect things to go wrong, so take plenty of beverage.

D/ Take a small ground tarp, plenty of spares, tools, all required automotive fluids and the original workshop manual for your vehicle.

E/ Don't use slipper type springs on a single axle trailer if you're going into "hard country".

F/ If things go completely pear-shaped, make sure you can communicate with the outside world.

G/ In the bush, cash is king.

H/ These problems that cause swearing at the time become great memories in the future.

Happy Problem Fixing :))

Welldone

PS. Looking forward to "The Gathering" and hearing of similar adventures!
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FollowupID: 679244

Reply By: OzTroopy - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 11:06

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 11:06
Million dollar, one piece, factory original, nil stock - have to be ordered, book a motel, in-tank fuel pump/sender gauge / pressure regulator units .... that can actually be pulled apart and a readily available $80-$120 "denso" or whatever brand, fuel pump replaced.
AnswerID: 409069

Reply By: Member - sdr00y (Beecroft,NSW) - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 11:08

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 11:08
80 series (and probably others as well) Toyota. The fusible link had blown. This is a little black box on the positive side battery cables. When it was blown there were no electrics. Once replaced, has worked fine ever since. No reason why it was blown and we could not find out either as the car was bought from auction. Certainly saved a few thousand dollars too, not many were interested in buying a car that had no electrics but plenty of power in the battery.

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AnswerID: 409071

Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 13:18

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 13:18
I had a diesel 47series that wouldn't start - eventually it started and we drove it from Innamincka to Adelaide without stopping because we knew it wouldn't start again. That was a fusible link too - the type that hang off the battery pos - the wiring had gradually vibrated on the corrugations until only a couple of strands remained. Lesson was that you need to have both ends of the link supported so they don't fatigue on corrugated roads.
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FollowupID: 679040

Follow Up By: Glenndini - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 14:08

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 14:08
Just to be clear here. The fusible link is not the little black box on the positive side battery cables.
IT IS the positive side battery cables connecting to the little black box.

The little black box is just a connection joining the fusible link to the cable going to the fuse box.
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FollowupID: 679044

Reply By: Member - Duncs - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 11:11

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 11:11
Here are a few from my long history of simple break downs.

I had a leaky diaphragm in a fuel pump. I fixed it by smearing the surface with a thin layer of silastic. It took about half our to set and was still working when I replaced it about 6 months later.

I also had a castle nut strip off a ball joint leaving me with no steering. It was fixed with a piece of 3/4" copper pipe used as a sleave on the ball joint and held in place with a 3" nail through the hole for the split pin. It wasn't great but it was better than walking. Thinking back on it I wish I had had a valve spring or something like that, would have been much better than the copper pipe.

And a fuel shut off solenoid that failed and shut off the fuel. We removed the piston from the solenoid so then the car would not stop, glad it was a manual.

Duncs
AnswerID: 409073

Reply By: landed eagle - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 12:19

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 12:19
Many moons ago I was on the Hume Highway heading to Melbourne to catch the Abel Tasman back home to Tassie. Driving a 302 V8 Falcon Panelvan.
Had a huge cloud of steam erupt from under the bonnet. I had replaced the hoses before my trip so was very surprised when it happened. Upon inspection I found that the metal heater hose connection which ran out of the top of the water pump had sheared off flush with the waterpump housing.

I couldn't put a bolt in the hose as there was nothing for the hose to attach to!

Fixed it after a bit of head scratching by using a piece of that open weave polishing cloth sold everywhere. I had some in the van thankfully. Also had some grease. I basically drenched the cloth with grease and then jammed it into the hole as tight as possible with a screwdriver. Engine kept water pressure and correct temperature all the way home and didn't leak a bit.
Obviously the heater didn't work. Didn't repair it properly till about 3 months after I was home.
AnswerID: 409082

Reply By: Fab72 - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 12:59

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 12:59
Not exactly a show stopper but very annoying at the time.

Wife's BMW 318....A/C stops working. Checked it out only to find the climate control module had taken a poo. Priced a new one at $1200. Put up with it for 2 long summers.

Figured I had nothing to loose, so I eventually started to probe the thing until I found the defective part. Unsolvered a 3K ohm resistor and replaced it with a new one from Force Electronics and bingo.....A/C worked again and never faulted again.

Total repair bill.......30 cents.
AnswerID: 409086

Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 13:35

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 13:35
A solo traveller has to consider these more than someone in a group.

Had a mate's battery short between the cells on the Anne Beadell and pull his second good battery down to 10.5 volts so he couldn't start his car.

I've had 2 alternator failures where the alt stopped working but no alt light came on. Once it was worn brushes, second time the internal regulator failed. I carry spare brushes and spare regulator these days, now my vehicles has higher k's.

Had a friend's 79series break an aftermarket shackle pin on the Gunbarrel Hwy. I had a spare but without a spare it may have been hard to fix. I have also broken spring centre bolts and main leafs on other vehicles so carry some of these as spares.

Had a front sway bar come adrift ot one end after the bolt fell out - used fencing wire to fix. Won't stop the vehicle, but makes a hell of a racket and

Have welded a broken rear upper control arm on a Prado on the Madigan Line.

Fixed a troopie's rear wheel bearing in the middle of the Simpson once as his rusty unmaintained bearings fell apart.

Blocked petrol fuel filter on a Hilux - kept cutting out - the guy had no spare so we removed the filter blew it out backwards and got him to the next town Ok.
AnswerID: 409092

Reply By: Barra-2 - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 15:24

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 15:24
Driving a 2001 RAV4 on the Birdsville track reached the Mungerannie Hotel (Yes we took it everywhere), a small stone had gotten behind the stone guard for the fuel tank and had put a pin hole leak in the corner after being hit buy a bigger rock from the outside.

Used a cake of soap to stop the leak, steelo to remove paint around the hole, and put metal putty in the dent after getting advice from Copley.

Drove it for another 12 months before trading it in on a 100 Series Land cruiser, and I have TJM bash plates protecting everything now.

A big thank you to Mungerannie Hotel for their help and the RAA mechanic at Copley for his advice on how to fix it properly

Adding to this problem, the RAA didn't want to help due to it being an impact and not a breakdown. Advise for any one calling Road service say, "I don't know what’s wrong, it's not working".

We had the Outback cover too; try and contact the local Road service person first if you can.
AnswerID: 409100

Follow Up By: Barra-2 - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 15:44

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 15:44
At Mornington off the Gibb River Road, our J bar holding the battery holder had rattled off and was long gone and the top bracket moved across the top of the battery and sparked on the negative post. It caused a small fire, which we found before the damage was too bad; one of the 2 covers was gone as well.

We found another J Bar from broken down cars at a dump near Iminja, placed a large rag over the battery hole and used racing tape to hold that in place, and wire from a wire coat hanger to replace the missing bolts. We made it all the way home to SA like that even taking the short cut home via the Tanamai.

So check you car each day for lose items, after travelling along corrugations, strange thing was I used that battery earlier in the day for the air compressor, and didn’t notice anything wrong.

Add wire, and racing tape to your recovery gear.
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FollowupID: 679054

Reply By: Member - Ray C1 (QLD) - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 18:05

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 18:05
Hi All,

Back in 1990 I was travelling around Zimbabwe and Botswana (southern Africa) in a VW Kombi Camper, We were camping in Maun (350Km rough dirt road to get to Maun) in the okavango delta. I did a check over of the Kombi and noticed one of the rubber engine mounts was broken through the rubber.

A replacement engine mount would have had to be flown in at a VERY expensive price and several days wait.

I bought a tube of contact adhesive from the store and glued the engine mount rubber together, a couple of thousand K's later after lots of gravel roads the glued engine mount rubber was still 100% solid

When I finally got back to Harare in Zimbabwe I fitter a replacement engine mount and kept the repaired mount as a spare.

Always kept a tube of Contact in the glove box after that.

Ray
Brisbane OZ
AnswerID: 409114

Reply By: Member - Willie , Sydney. - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 19:15

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 19:15
I have had two like that.

- My Datronic computer failed in outback WA. Mechanic in Newman said it was the water pump. Mate I rang said plug the Toyota computer back in and try it. Varoom. If you have an after market chip and your engine dies, that should be the first thing you try.

ARB Moorebank installed my bull bar and had to run wiring to the parking lights. They did not secure the wiring and eventually it rubbed through and shorted everything out when I put the right hand blinker on.

Willie.
AnswerID: 409117

Reply By: Member - Josh (TAS) - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 19:58

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 19:58
When on the gibb river rd we had a fuse that kept blowing in the 80 series. Would loose air con, power windows, radio, wipers etc. Drove back to derby (250 km) Auto elec couldn't work it out so gave me a big handfull of fuses and said good luck. Turns out when we had the new sat phone fitted in Broome by global crap (global star) the guy put the screws for the car kit through the wireing loom in the floor. Simple to fix but a bugger to work out.
We met a couple with a cracked radiator hose once who were carrying no spares. Modified the cruiser spare hose that I had to get them out of trouble then prayed like mad that mine didn't go lol.

Josh
AnswerID: 409127

Reply By: Off-track - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 21:26

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 21:26
Been pretty lucky on the whole thus far (touch wood). Had to do a variety of maintenance along the way in the dirt and dust and flies but most times was able to limp to next town for parts if I didn't have.

Had to change a water pump in the NT but found I had no gasket, so cut out a new one from a Weet-Bix packet. Several years later was still working well. Pretty common bush repair though.

Another time was in remote NW WA and front shock rubber had disentegrated due to corrugations and was making somewhat of a din. Still wanted them to do their job, otherwise could have removed them, so found an old tyre carcass and cut a new set of bushes. Stayed fitted for a few weeks.
AnswerID: 409145

Reply By: Member - Mark E (VIC) - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 21:54

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 21:54
Travelling alone in the High Country during the early 80's, mid week, early winter, had a flat battery from leaving the headlights on too long the night before whilst setting up tent and looking for a little firewood (yep, pretty dumb...).

Next morning removed battery, emptied about 1/2 acid out of each cell into a small billy. Heated slightly over the fire, poured back into the battery.....now able to start car. Was careful to park on hills during the next day, just in case battery stuffed. Battery lasted another 12 months.

Cheers,

Mark
AnswerID: 409152

Reply By: Farmboywa - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 23:47

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 23:47
Have heard that pantyhose can be used for an emergency fanbelt. A pierced radiator can be made usable by crimping off the coolant tubes either side of the damaged area.Leave the radiator cap off so the system doesn't pressurise and drive modestly to avoid overheating. Have heard that spinifex grass packed into a flat tyre and driven slowly can work. A tapered wood peg can be jammed into a holed fuel or water tank to slow the leak. It may be possible to start a vehicle which has a flat battery and cannot be push started by jacking the rear wheels clear of the ground, selecting a high gear and turning the rear wheels by hand to turn the engine over.Won't work on auto transmissions I should imagine. Happy Days.
AnswerID: 409172

Reply By: Glacier Bill - Wednesday, Mar 17, 2010 at 05:54

Wednesday, Mar 17, 2010 at 05:54
I recall a story from many years ago when I was working on a council the dozer driver was to go from Childers to Brisbane in an old v8 Dodge prime mover to pick up a new low loader. Driver got not too far down the road and she blows a welsh plug on the side of the motor, got in contact with mechanic who didn't have the right size plug, arrives with a broome handle and a hand saw, lopped off a suitable length plug of broome handle, tapered the end and drove it in the block. When the water came in contact with the wood it swelled to a tight fit and sealed perfectly. Driver took broome handle and hand saw with him but the wooden plug remained in place and did the trip without leaking a drop.
AnswerID: 409181

Follow Up By: Glacier Bill - Wednesday, Mar 17, 2010 at 05:59

Wednesday, Mar 17, 2010 at 05:59
Sorry should read broom not Broome.
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FollowupID: 679130

Reply By: Bob of KAOS - Wednesday, Mar 17, 2010 at 08:31

Wednesday, Mar 17, 2010 at 08:31
Came a cross a woman driving a troopy along the GBH from Pipalyatjara to Amata stopped because of no brakes. Line had sheared off at the slave cylinder. Self tapper screwed into line to seal fluid loss = able to proceed with at least some brakes.

80 series suddenly makes strange noise just south of Balgo. Air intake hose sheared off between air cleaner and manifold. Use stainless steel wire sutures to provide mechanical strength then wrap with gaffer tape for air tight seal.

Front hose to autotransmission cooler on Disco decides to unclip itself and dump ATF near Mt Liebig, causing 'failure to proceed' warning to sound. Re attach dodgy hose and use stainless steel wire as hose clamp. Replenish ATF and proceed.

Wire to fuel pump parted on petrol Cruiser parts and defies detection by bush mechanics on Connie Sue Hwy. Tow car 500 km to Kal where problem solved for $20.

Strong smell of petrol noted when LX470 pulls over in Santa Teresa section of Carnarvon Gorge NP. Fuel noted to be gushing out somewhere above rear axle. Fuel line connection had fallen apart. After being soaked in petrol underneath hot car on 35 degree day was able to reconnect and 'wire up' loose connector and proceed before too much fuel was lost.

Essentials are stainless steel wire, gaffer tape, U Kneed It, self tappers, relevant fluids. On the electrical side: multimeter, wire, fuses.

Bob

Bob

Tyre goes down middle of nowhere - plug, pump and proceed (about a thousand times).
AnswerID: 409186

Reply By: loxsmith - Thursday, Mar 18, 2010 at 14:13

Thursday, Mar 18, 2010 at 14:13
Once removed a blocked fuel filter on an old petrol Hilux and replaced it with the plastic from a Bik pen after removing the ink bit. Worked a treat
Glen
AnswerID: 409352

Reply By: meggala - Thursday, Mar 18, 2010 at 22:40

Thursday, Mar 18, 2010 at 22:40
3 years ago driving from ularu to marla 1 am 150+ klms from marla 1985 landcruiser bundeera driving nice notice lack of power look at temp gauge gone straight up . pull over wait then release radiator cap. no mobile phone cover age remember rest area 10klms back drive slowly back to rest area pick up emergancy phone. someone answers port august police :) get raa guy come tows back to marla thermostatr gone no spae so mechanic drill it out runs cold but good enough to get back to melb $20 to fix.
AnswerID: 409425

Reply By: greenextreme - Sunday, Mar 21, 2010 at 23:06

Sunday, Mar 21, 2010 at 23:06
Driving Perth to Pemberton, about half way we sense a strong smell of coolant and moments later the temp gauge begins to go up, quickly. Stopped immediately and found a 10cm x 2cm coolant hose at the rear of the engine had sprung a leak and my spares had every hose except the required one. I wrapped 3-4 layers of canvas around the leaking hose and used hose clamps to seal the canvas over the leak. Topped up the coolant, drove to our campsite then home no problems. Canvas and hose clamps...worked a treat.
AnswerID: 409853

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