Van woes and wins in Mexico

We were too busy getting out of Morelia to tell you how we got out of Morelia! So here’s the story, from Phillip’s texts to his parents, about the night of Oct 17:

So, we got the fuel pump replaced on the van yesterday - and the oil changed.

It was was a bit of a challenge. It was supposed to be done by 6. We arrive at 6:15. They are still finishing up. They have no gas and no oil or filter for the oil change.

They give us a gas can, and Stan takes me to the nearest gas station to fill it. Then we drive around a little to find an oil place. First they try to sell us a tiny filter that I knew wasn’t right. Then a bigger one that looks promising. We take everything back to the mechanic. They put the gas in, started it. All is well.

They change the oil. The new filter is the same, so that works. His labor for everything is 400 pesos (about $20). It was about 7:30pm at this point, so I rush off [alone now] to the vet to return their cage [we borrowed it to bring home the kittens after their surgeries]. They are about 1/4 mile away and are about to close. When I get there the doors are locked, but they are still cleaning up, so I give them the cage.

Then I start to leave but the engine dies. I try starting 5 times or so and it starts again. So, OK, maybe the battery was low from all the restarts, or some gunk got sucked into the fuel line. I idle a bit. It seems OK, so I start again.

I go a few blocks and get on the main road. On the bridge during a red light it dies again. I try to start it a few times, no luck. Four lanes, busy intersection, train tracks, cars honking, going around.

The next green light I push it through the intersection to an empty parking lot of a closed sink store or something.

A police car is 2 cars behind me. And the cop stops to chat.

He is eating a cupcake. And speaks no English.

[Spanish comprehension goes down as stress goes up.] I don’t understand what he’s saying so I call Stan, and they talk for a minute.

The jist is that it’s OK to park there for the night, but the van will probably get broken in to. Stan says he will try to get ahold of the mechanic and come to me.

In the meantime, I pull out my diagnostic scanner, and pull the codes, which say problems with the ignition control module and throttle position sensor. They battery voltage is fine.

Stan picks me up, but can’t get ahold of the mechanic - they’ve even driven by his house but can’t find him. So we go out for tacos [past dinner time now].

After we eat, the mechanic calls and says he’s been swimming. But he’ll meet us at the van in 15 min. It’s after 9pm at this point.

He checks the fuel pump while I crank. Its fine. Then he pulls a spark plug wire and it has little to no spark.

So we call a tow truck to take it back to his shop.

It takes forever to get there and looks something like this:

By Source, Fair use,

So that goes smoothly, and costs $350 pesos. So “much” because it’s a big vehicle. ($18)

Stan drops me off back at our place at around 11. Anna Lisa set up a tent in the dark. So I can go right to bed. So now we’re waiting on the mechanic to diagnose.

If you’ve been following along you know we got out of Mexico but continued to deal with van problems. Phillip found so many ways to get it going again - and now it’s at a very trustworthy shop in North Manchester. But I don’t think any of those mechanics would meet us in a parking lot at 9:30pm to poke around and escort a tow truck to their garage.

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