From Endurance to Dressage
Not every Friday is as needed as others. This is one of those Fridays that came almost too late. Had there been one more day in the week, I would have had to call in sick. There's only so much a person can take.
The instigator was Newt of course, but when you're stretched as thin as you can get, it doesn't take much to create small holes in your well being. While I waited for Newt's glow plug to be replaced - I know, I'll get there, a few parents in my classroom jumped on the crazy train. For the love of God, people, I am trying to help! Blaming the teacher or insinuating that she is being unreasonable - it does not take 15 minutes to get a tissue, does not help your kiddo succeed. So there was that.
I am also coming off a six-day work week - remember, I work for pills, Speedy's that is. One day off a week is not recommended. On Wednesday, I attended a very, very after work meeting. It didn't start until an hour after my contracted day had ended. You gotta love unpaid over-time. All the while, I have been waiting for Newt to again be road worthy, and I use that term loosely when applied to my less than reliable ride.
So where was I? Oh, yes, Newt and her many issues. I took Newt back to the Ford Service Department on Tuesday morning. I waited all day for a call back with at least a diagnosis. Without the On Board Diagnostic port functioning correctly, it's hard to diagnose a problem. By day's end, I finally got a call saying the mechanic had replaced the blown fuse, but one of Newt's glow plugs had failed. I almost screamed into the phone, I ALREADY TOLD YOU THAT WAS THE PROBLEM! So yes, all they did that first day was pull and replace a fuse. Once again I got a Lyft and the world's smallest rental car.
The next afternoon, after not hearing anything all day, I finally called and asked if Newt was ready to be picked up. "Your vehicle is ready ma'am. You can come by anytime." I don't know if it is just Ford, or are all service departments the same? Why don't they call to tell you your vehicle is ready. Why make me bother them? This was at 2:30. The service associate confirmed that the failed glow plug had been replaced, but again, there were no extras to replace the final glow plug that I was willing to pay for.
I was able to get to Ford at 5:15, and the service associate greeted me with a huge smile. After working an eleven hour day, I was not. In. The. Mood. "Guess what?" he says. "There has been a miracle. We replaced BOTH glow plugs." Pause for just a second here. At 2:30, my vehicle was ready with one glow plug replaced. Less than three hours later, BOTH glow plugs had been replaced? If it is so easy to replace them, why couldn't they have done it the day before when they had my truck the ENTIRE day? Whatever. I pulled out my credit card ready to pay for the last glow plug but was met with a no worries, Ford has agreed to pay for that last glowplug. Apparently, there had been some miscommunication between the service associate and the parts department. There had been a second glow plug all along.
Don't get me wrong, I was very grateful to be finished with this mess - no fewer than three trips to the service department for one failed glow plug after another all in less than three months, but come on, Ford, get your shit together. Here's the funny-not funny part. Ford comped me the glow plug, but charged me $3.81 for the fuse.
Life is weird y'all. I need a drink.
If it would help to cry, I would. Since it doesn't, I just have to laugh instead. Insert maniacal lighter here.
My check engine light is on again. I am not even going to give you links to all the posts I've written about my friend Newt. Newt, which stands for New Truck, is not exactly pulling her figurative weight this past two years. While I have complained loudly about all of her faults, the truth is that each and every thing has been taken care of by my local Ford Service Departments, plural because there are two. I am pretty sure they hate me. Anyhoodle, Newt is going back in next week for yet another round of diagnostic work.
When the check engine light came back on more than a week ago, I first took Newt to my oil change place. They used two different scanners to try and diagnose what the issue might be. Since neither one seemed to be working, we couldn't read the code(s). They suggested I take it to O'Riley's Auto Parts where they actually offer free scans that come with a print out of the codes.
While the scan is always free, the box of DEF that I bought most certainly was not. Neither were the fuses and fuse tester/puller that I also bought. You see why the scan is free. Anyway, the guy plugged the scanner in, but nothing happened. Whoops! The two scanners that the guys at the oil change place had used hadn't malfunctioned after all. It was Newt's On Board Diagnostics II (OBD) port that wasn't working.
The OBDII port's job is to monitor emissions and other data about your vehicle. It's connected to the check engine light, which illuminates when the computer detects a problem. Here's the thing. The OBDII port needs power to work, so if your check engine light comes on but there is no power to the port, the scanner can't generate a code to tell you what's wrong with your vehicle. Excuse me while I have a short Chevy Chase moment. Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where's the Tylenol?
When the very kind employee at O'Riley's explained that the scanner wasn't working because there was no power to Newt's OBDII, I dug out my vehicle manual and flipped to the page on fuses. Believe it or not, I had tabbed it with a sticky note and even labeled the sticky note, fuses. Such a teacher thing to do; we love highlighters, tabs, and sticky notes, and when used together, we've found the Holy Grail.
According to my now reluctant helper, the OBDII most often uses the same fuse as the cigarette lighter. Weird fact: I told him that I didn't have a cigarette lighter. Do they even make cars with cigarette lighters? Yes, but now they call it an auxiliary power outlet. Oh, that thing? Why didn't you say so? Of course Newt has one of those. We found out it works just fine.
I could tell the guy was putting in some serious effort to try and ditch me and probably go back to work, but I just kept giving him jobs to do. Before he knew it, the hood was up, and I was pointing out the fuse box and letting him open it. We identified which fuse was the most likely one, Newt has three auxiliary power fuses, and tried to pull it out. Unfortunately, the fuse puller I had just bought wasn't big enough to pull the larger fuses, so my helper quickly returned inside and left me to fend for myself.
Not one to quit, I gave my mom a call - she kicks butt when it comes to engines and vehicle maintenance, and asked how to pull a hard to reach fuse. Her advice was to grab a very long set of needle nose pliers, which I found in my husband's tool box, and yank it out like a tooth. Done and done. As a side note, I do have a work bench and tool box but it isn't filled with nearly as many fun tools as is my husband's which he inherited from his grandpa many years ago. That toolbox came loaded with stuff you don't always see anymore.
With this truck, I never know if finding the problem is better than not finding a problem. I pulled the fuse and saw that it was good. Since I was already dirty, I decided to start pulling more fuses just to get my money's worth out of the fuse tester. I pulled the first five fuses, 80 - 84, and saw that they were all black. I didn't need the tester to tell me those had blown. For the fuses that looked good, I did use the tester to verify that they truly hadn't blown.
Using the fuse tester (a fancier name that my mom taught me is continuity tester) is pretty easy. You push the two points of the tester down into the corresponding holes on the fuse. If the tester lights up, you're good. In small fuses like the ones below, if that curve of metal is broken or there is black on the fuse's prongs, the fuse has blown.
Fuses blow for lots of reasons, but before replacing one, it's often times a good idea to figure out WHY it blew. In Newt's case, I found five in a row that had blown. Eventually, I put the tester away and left the blown fuses where they were. While I love to solve my own problems, I want the guys at Ford to see the blown fuses and then check for more. I don't know why my check engine light is on, and I don't know why there is no power to my OBDII port, but it sounds like I might have an electrical problem. And if I do, that is a job way, way above my pay grade.
Once I know what's wrong with Newt, I'll fill you in.
Another version ... Found On Road Dead. FORD. Mother Trucker!
My check engine light is back on. Welcome to my Ground Hog Day. I don't know whether I hope it's the last two glow plugs or something completely new. I am ordering one of those code readers this weekend. I am too embarrassed to stop by my local oil change place to get the code read. I am worried that they'll quit being so nice to me if I pester them one more time.
Mother forklift. Wait, I think I already said that.
The past six months have been really difficult financially. I make more or less the same as I have for the past several years, yet I am barely making ends meet. It finally occurred to me where all of my money has been going. Uh-huh ... this girl is breaking the bank.
I owned Blue Truck for 19 years. It only ever had two or three things go wrong, and never all in the same couple of months. Blue Truck had the decency to spread its problems out over two decades. First, there was a problem with a sticking throttle. Years later, my fuel pump went out, and then I had all of the rubber parts in the engine replaced. As far as engine trouble, that was it. I bought a few new sets of tires, a couple of batteries, and did regular maintenance when it was needed. In the past six months. Newt has needed all of those things, and a heck of a lot more.
Yep. in six months I've spent at least $11,684 on my truck. That is several month's pay, and I am not exaggerating. Holy cow; no wonder I am working every side hustle I can. I get that the bottom two expenses - my monthly payment and fuel, are things that come with truck ownership, but man, the price of diesel has skyrocketed over the past six months. I am paying $4.76 a gallon right now, and Newt gets 15 mpg if I am really careful, and that's NOT while towing.
Last week, I finally had to get new tires, and wouldn't you know it? While I was there, one of the tire sensors went out. Cha ching ... that cost me another $44 on top of the $1490 I had just paid. While I love Newt's pulling power, I am not too pleased with how expensive everything on a diesel has turned out to be. Had I know how expensive this truck was going to be, I don't think I would have bought something else, but I would have been better prepared.
I sincerely hope this is it for a while. If not, no show season for me.
Now where were we? Ah, yes, I remember ... Newt.
Back before I needed to take a vacation from life - and trust me, it was no vacation, I had been expressing some serious frustration from my get me there and back truck, Newt. Here it is if you need to catch up. There's more ...
I picked Newt up from the Ford Service Department on Friday afternoon, relieved that she was fixed and ready for action. On Monday afternoon, the check engine light came back on. I almost cried. I pulled in to my trusty oil change place where they checked the codes, and AGAIN - glow plugs. I immediately called the Ford Service Department who told me to bring it back the next morning.
Now, I don't know where you live or what your transportation system is like, but here in California, if you don't have a vehicle, you're screwed. There's no train, subway, or bus in Kern County that can get you where you need to go in a timely manner, especially where I live. Hitchhiking would be the fastest form of public transportation. Back when I had Blue Truck, I also had a daily driver which meant we had three vehicles at our disposal. Now that we're once again a two-driver, two vehicle household, things get pretty awkward when one of our vehicles is indisposed.
I work 30 minutes to the southwest. My husband works 45 minutes to the northwest. Ride sharing is not a solution for us. Given how far out of town we live, calling an Uber or a Lyft is not going to solve the problem. No one will come out here that early in the morning - I leave for work at 5:45 a.m. Before the butt crack of dawn had even thought about getting up, my husband followed me to the Ford Service Department. We left Newt, he dropped me off at school, and then he drove north. I think he had driven an hour before he even started toward work.
That afternoon, I got a call from the Ford Service Department telling me that Newt had checked out fine. The codes had just needed to be reset. Given the hassle I had already been through, I insisted that someone drive Newt to the school where I work and drop her off. Whether they value my business or just didn't want to deal with me any longer, they agreed. A short time later, my phone rang; my service representative called to very sheepishly explain that on the drive from Ford to my school, the check engine light came BACK on, so the driver had to return to Ford.
Tabitha - we were finally on a first name basis, told me not to worry as a rental car was headed my way. If you'll remember, I had spent the better part of the preceding week in a rental the size of a pea. Fortunately, car number two was a bit larger and came with some creature comforts that car number one had lacked - head and leg room being two of them.
The next day, Tabitha called with some pretty distressing news. Two additional glow plugs had failed. Weird and certainly unusual, but ... Tabitha explained that the two glow plugs that they had replaced the week before accounted for every glow plug in Ford's inventory. There were literally no glow plugs available from Ford, not just in Bakersfield, but across the entire country. When I asked when new glow plugs would be available, she rather flippantly responded that it could be six hours or six months. And until two glow plugs could be located, Newt wasn't going home.
I was actually quite proud of myself for not shoving my bunched up panties down someone's throat. While I wanted to burst into tears or maybe punch someone, I didn't. Instead, I took a really, really, really deep breath, and asked very politely for someone to work the freaking problem. And while they were working the problem, I asked if we could actually locate six glow plugs - two to replace the two that had failed and four others to replace the four that were going to fail. If four of the eight had failed within a week's time, it seemed only logical to suspect that the next four were also on their way out.
The next day, Tabitha called and said that Newt was again ready to go home. They had found four, non-factory glow plugs. Is there a black market for glow plugs? Where did they find them? The local junk yard? Whatever. Four had been found, but since only two had actually failed, the warranty could only cover those. I had to fork over $150 bucks for the two that we replaced proactively. When the next two fail, Ford will be on the hook for those.
Which brings us to today. For now, Newt is running just fine, and the check engine light hasn't come back on. Yet. My faith in the last two original glow plugs is lower even than Biden's approval rating, and that number is not looking good.
Got any glow plugs I could buy?
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2022 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2022 Shows Schedule
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
2022 Completed …
2022 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2 Scores/1 Judges/60%: