We bundled up LeuC, hooked up our little Fiat and started our 1000 mile trip back to the Bay Area for the Christmas holidays. We planned this first day’s trip using a different route. After fighting our way through the Phoenix traffic last month, we decided to try another way to get to Quartzsite, AZ. Instead of following the I-10 freeway the whole way, we veered west when the I-8 Freeway intersected the I-10. I-8 is the southernmost freeway here in the Southwest and runs west to San Diego.
No, we have not lost our minds. We will not be going to San Diego because we would then need to head north and fight our way through the LA freeway system again. Instead, we drove about 55 miles west along the I-8 and then took the Gila Bend exit to get on Arizona Route 85, also known as the Butterfield Trail. This road is the old Butterfield Stage Coach trail that was used back in the 1800s. Now, it is a great way to by-pass Phoenix and hook back up to the I-10, 35 miles west of Phoenix.
I wanted to give this route a try to evaluate it for future drives between the Bay Area and Tucson. As it turns out, it is a great way to go as the road is mostly 4 lanes with little traffic. It is about 40 miles long with the speed limit of 65 mph. Whoo Hoo!
By 1300 we were back at the Plomosa Road BLM dispersed camping area near Quartzsite and had settled in for a restful afternoon. Sounds great doesn’t it!
Unfortunately, it was not to be the case. After we settled in, I went out to do my inspection of the RV and our little Fiat so I would not have to do that tomorrow morning. During my inspection, I discovered that our little Fiat was in 2nd gear. Oh, oh….
We were sure that it was in neutral when we hooked the little Fiat up to its tow bar but now, somehow, was in 2nd gear. It needs to be in neutral in order to be towed.
I started up the car and it sounded just fine. I put it in gear and drove down the road, shifting into each gear and listening for problems. It shifted smoothly through all of the gears just fine and I was humming down the road. All seemed well until I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw a thick plume of grayish white smoke following me. Gulp!
I immediately pulled over and the smoke stopped. I decided that I could coast most of the way back to our RV since it was only about 1000 feet away so off I went. The smoke started up again as I got up speed and then stopped once I put the car in neutral and coasted back home.
Once there, I checked under the hood and under the car and found no evidence of a leak or a sweet smell which would be a sign of burnt transmission fluid. In fact, there was no smell what so ever. Hmmm?
I suspect that we have a transmission oil leak but there is not a transmission oil dipstick anywhere. Hmmm?
Tomorrow, I will call around to see if we can tow the little Fiat up to Lake Havasu where there is a dealership. Keep your fingers crossed!