We finally got a tow car

It’s been 5 months now that we’ve been on the road. But for the first 3 months we didn’t tow a car. Mostly because we were just hanging out in our home town area and getting used to life in an RV. We had always wanted to tow, but neither of our cars were towable, and whenever we found a car we might want, it was sold before we could look at it, or it was not so local and we’d need to schedule time to see it, but again, they always sold before we could make it.

When we took our first trip to AZ, we also didn’t tow. We just traveled separate – I drove the RV and Michelle drove the car. But, we never found a tow car, until we were LEAVING Lake Havasu City, Az.  On the way out of town, I saw a car that was already equipped to be towed (this can cost thousands to setup) and it was in our budget. But we had no way of getting money since it was in a bank acct in Ca at a credit union, and going to an ATM for a few hundred might work, but to buy a car, just wasn’t going to cut it. So we finished our Northern AZ trip and kept talking to the dealer to make sure the car was still available.

The Second trip trip to Arizona picks up about 10 days after we finished our first trip around Northern Arizona. We had gone back to CA to take care of taxes and see a play at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. Then we needed to be in Tucson for a conference in a few days.

But, first, we needed to pick up a Tow Car.

This took us to Lake Havasu City, where we went to pick up a car we saw when we were here the last time, nearly a month earlier. We needed a tow car, and as our luck would have it, the cars we’d owned were not towable. And by the grace of God, this car was still available. Having chased a few toad cars within a few hundred miles, none seemed to be available by the time we were able to visit them.

It was now or never

Not only were we in a hurry, but it was Friday and we had to be in Tucson by Monday and we weren’t coming back to California. Since we were going to be traveling, we wouldn’t have license plates ad would have to have them mailed to us on the road. That would have been a pain. So our only option was to get the car to a DMV in CA TODAY, to get it registered and get plates.

But we also needed to tow it. So while I was negotiating on the phone the prior week with the dealer, I was also working with a hitch & tow shop in Lake Havasu City that was recommended by the dealer. In order to get this all done, the dealer, just signed over the paper title to us instead of registering it. Then we sold him our car that wasn’t towable and he gave us a decent price. Then we headed over the the hitch & tow shop where they sold us the tow bar and electrical cable. They had already fixed the electrical on the car while we were still in CA (hadn’t even purchased it yet). Then we towed the car (never towed anything before in my life) all the way to Needles, CA.

While we were doing all of this, we realized that we’d need to get the car smogged before we could register it. So on the way to Needles, we found a smog shop in Needles that would be ready for us. We’d be arriving about 4pm and the DMV closed at 5pm and this was a Friday – anything could go wrong and/or people could leave early and we’d be stuck. AND we needed to find a place to camp tonight.

We finally make it to Needles and find the smog shop. I park in an empty lot nearby and we unhook the car and drive it to the shop. Michelle will stay with the car, I’m going to the DMV to get a jump on the paper work. The DMV here was awesome (I know, never hear that do you), and the ladies here helped us get through this quickly. Everything is good they tell me, except, they need the smog cert when it’s done, and they need to inspect the vehicle – common practice to make sure nothing is forged, faked, swapped out, whatever. Great, smog should be done shortly.

Then My phone rings. It’s Michelle telling me that they’re having trouble do to the computer being shut off recently! Ugh, we hade to turn off the electrical to tow the car, common practice in toads. What do we do? I explain this to the technician who says he has an idea – he’s got a manual on how to get the computer back to where it needs to be to legal smog it. He needs to drive it for a bit at different speeds and then come back to verify that it’s smog-able. We’ve got 20 minutes before dmv closes.

We’re all praying that it works and goes well. About 8 minutes before dmv is closing, Michelle texts me that she’s on her way – all done at the smog shop!

She makes it in time for the inspection, bringing the paperwork, and the woman behind the counter hands us our registration, our plates, and our stickers.

With 2 minutes to spare, Michelle updates her Driver License so we won’t have to on the road (mine doesn’t expire for a couple more years) and we get Chloe a State Issued ID card, so she can take some college credit tests on the road.

If it’s not one thing, it’s a lot of things…

And we are outta there…. except we’re not. It’s amazing to me how many times I think some crazy escapade is over and then it turns out that it’s not.

It’s 5pm and we haven’t eaten in a long while. Michelle drives to grab some burgers and we connect the car and drive off. By the time we’re driving down the road, it’s past dusk. But, I notice that my dashboard lights are very dim, in fact, I don’t think they’re actually even on. So we find a place to pull off the road and check our lights. We don’t have brake lights or turn signals, on the RV or the car. Ugh. It’s late, and we’re exhausted from our more than 12 hour day of driving and fixing things.

I can’t figure out what the problem is, but it seems like a fuse issue. Great, there are only like 3 (maybe 4) places where fuses live and I’ve already replaced one of the bigger ones. Luckily I recently bought a new continuity tester. I open the hood and test all the fuses I can find. I find one that seems bad. I open my phone to find an auto parts store. Nearest is about an hour away. This evening is really past frustrating.

As I begin to plan the trip – do I leave the girls in the RV, or leave the RV with just the dogs…? I look at the fuses and the guide that tells me what all the fuses are for.

Wait a minute. The bad fuse is for the brake lights, etc. But, I’ve got a couple more in here that are the same fuse, different circuit. Yes! One of them is for the daylight running lights – I don’t need those at night now do I?? I pop that fuse out and into the spot where the bad fuse was. Bam! We’ve got brake lights, and signals, and everything we need.

I close of the hood and disconnect the car. I don’t know if the fuse blew because of how we connected the car, and I couldn’t take a chance that I’d do it again. We drive separate to Parker, Az for the night.

We finally arrive at the campground about 10pm. It’s dark and takes us 15 minutes to find the spot they left open for us. We get settled in, but we can’t even put down our suport jacks because they make a lot of noise and it was after 10pm when we arrived – making for a 15 hour day…

We travelled separate for the next day all the way to Goodyear, Az, our next destination (and a place with an auto parts store) so that we could get more fuses, in case I kept blowing them.

Thankfully, we’ve not blown anymore fuses. Thank you Lord!

Still going…

In the meantime, the car has shown oil leaks in 2 places. We just had a mechanic (one that specializes in the Honda engine powering Saturn Vues) look at it, and I’m told it should last mechanically even with the leak. So that’s OK news.

On the good side, with practice, we’re able to connect and disconnect the tow car to the RV in under 10 minutes generally.

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