Sunday, September 7, 2014

What Made My Car Breakdown?

After couple of reschedules for the training on the performance management system to be held at the Institute of Management Studies (IMS), Thimphu, I was to finally move to Thimphu a day before the commencement of the training. Since I was to head to the capital city, I decided to dust and wash my car prior to the journey although it hardly did any benefit given the muddy road conditions. With my essentials being hastily packed in a bag, I started embarking my solitary journey so that I could make it through a small window of time for the road opening which was caused by the road widening works. I did not want to waste my time in waiting at the blockage for hours with nothing to do and no one to talk with. My calculations worked well and I was just on time to get through the first block. It did not matter whether the road ahead was hardly visible from the cloud of dust, every vehicle was trying to take the race of life. As scary as it was to overtake a vehicle, equal number of vehicle zoom passed from the opposite side. 

I was trying as best as I could to flow with the rhythm of the convoy but my car started to weigh heavy after sometime. I had to push the accelerator pad to its limit on the first gear to match up to the traffic. There was also an unusual heat radiating from the dashboard and the car started to stall. It was then that I sensed something bad with my car. The vehicles behind me were honking a lot and were probably annoyed with me for not matching up to the flow of the traffic. I had to take chance on the next broader road to let the ones behind me to overtake and to look at the possible remedies. I immediately opened the bonnet and it was literally burning. It was really hot inside. With my little knowledge on the mechanics of the car, I immediately doubted the coolant level. To my surprise the coolant was upto its mark. I tried waiting for about 15 minutes to cool down the engine on its own. When I tried hitting back on road, my car did not move an inch, much to my dismay and only started to roar out loud on pressing the accelerator. It was as if the horse was refusing to take the next step.

Without wasting much time, I immediately searched for the car manual and luckily I had it tucked in the glove box. Unfortunately, there was no mention about this strange condition in the troubleshooting section. With no abnormal indication on the meters and gauges, I was left with little option. I went on to using my electrical background and started looking at the problem from the electrical field. I flipped through the pages of the manual to look at the layout of the fuses. Since, it was unusually hot in the engine compartment, I narrowed down the search to radiator fan fuse. For the sake of completing my mental checkbox, I swapped the 30A spare fuse with the existing radiator fan fuse. I had little hope that it could solve the problem. On the start of the engine and gently pressing the accelerator, my car started to move forward. I was so happy that it solved the problem much to my surprise. Moments later I was behind the wheels trying hard to get through the second block but I could not make on time. I had already wasted about 45 minutes on this problem but the time wasted was worth it as I gained a huge experience. As I drove to my final destination, I was mentally working out what could have been the root cause of blowing the fuse off. Finally, I settled with my hypothesis that I also washed the engine compartment and the bonnet hood by spray jetting the water as mostly done during the car servicing. The water could have caused the short circuit as it was only a one time fault and never re-occured therafter.

Lessons learnt: 
If you sense something unusual about your car, immediately park it at a safe place and attend to the problem.
Never spray water into the engine compartment.
Never trust your car temperature gauge. The meter showed normal on my car.
Ensure that you have spare fuses in the fuse box and lastly always carry your car manual.

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