Oh no, here we go. Our first trouble in the Big Trip. A mechanical issue has reared it’s ugly head! I did everything I could to avoid this but…
The other day we drove from Indianapolis to St Louis. Around midday, we stopped for lunch in southern Illinois then got back on the road. Getting back up to speed was an uphill climb on the entry ramp as well as on the road after the ramp. Pushing up that hill to blend with traffic is when it happened, an undeniable heavy thunk, and the engine RPMs dropped significantly, along with the power output.
We immediately knew something was wrong. A quick scan of the gauges told me everything looked normal but the truck felt anemic. Also, there was an idiot light illuminated in the dash which hadn’t been there before. It looked like a wrench. Not good.
Dawnie grabbed the truck manual and found that this idiot light indicates the truck had set itself to a reduced power electronic throttle control status called “Limp home mode”. Oh, that doesn’t sound good! It further encourages you to get the vehicle in for service at your earliest opportunity.
Other than having reduced power available the truck seemed to be driving normal with no worrisome information coming from the gauges. With about an hour’s driving time to St Louis, we decided to “Limp home” to St Louis and figure out what to do from there. After getting to St Louis and letting the truck sit for a couple of hours I got in and started it up. The idiot light was gone. That’s good, right? Well yes and no.
Pushing through in limp home mode over the flat plains of southern Illinois is one thing, but there are another 4,000+ miles yet to go and many of those miles are anything but flat. We decided we really have to get this looked at and address the issue before getting into the mountains of the west.
Knowing our next stop would be in Lawrence KS, for more than two full days (visiting family), we decided to call ahead and get a dealer ready to help us when we get there. Although their service bays were fully booked, the service manager (Mike) at Laird Noller Ford in Lawrence promised he’d find a way to get us taken care of and back on the road on schedule. He had sympathy for our situation having just done the same multiple-day Tennessee to Lawrence Kansas drive himself just a few days earlier.
When we got to Lawrence Mike was ready. He got the truck in right away and had a diagnosis early the next morning. Codes on the truck system indicate it had been in an “over-boost condition” for an extended length of time. This triggered the idiot light and “Limp home mode”. We need to pull the turbo apart and inspect it. When all was said and done we ended up replacing the turbo assembly. The Laird Noller service technician was able to complete the work and we’ll be back on the road without missing a beat! Minus a hefty chunk of change, however.
We’ve got lots of people to thank in Lawrence KS for helping us through this. Mike and Leon at the Ford dealer for everything they did of course but also my brother and his family who lent us a car while the truck was in the shop. Not to mention letting us do laundry, sharing a few meals with us, letting the boys sleepover in their house for fun with their cousins, etc, etc.
In the morning we really test the mechanics’ work as we hit the road again with over seven tons in tow. Wish us luck!!