Saturday, May 29, 2010

Nobody knows the trouble I've seen...

...except my husband, because he was there with me this time.

We had quite an ordeal hauling the horses today.
(Don't worry, all are safe. No gory accident story follows.)

I had a lot of trouble pulling the horse trailer in the mountains with my crappy old 1994 F250 turbo diesel last summer. I experienced overheating and extreme loss of power going over the mountains. It received major repairs at a diesel specialty shop after that trip, but I've still been having repetitious problems with the truck. Lately, my eyes have burned as I get fumigated with diesel odor while driving. It needed to go back to the shop, but I've lost faith in my diesel specialist.

I said to my husband last week, "I don't want to take the truck back to So-and-So Diesel Repair because it always costs us $1,000.00 to go there and I think they are missing things. Let's take it to the Ford dealer."

Ha ha ha. Famous last words. $2,550.00 in repairs later and I still have a crappy old truck; however my eyes aren't burning anymore. I'm happy with the mechanic and what he did. But dealer service prices are outrageous! We can't be doing this very often.

The mechanic found my fuel leak. Turns out the fuel leak was likely caused by So-and-So Diesel Repair. When So-and-So Diesel replaced all of the injectors last year, they didn't bother to replace the o-rings at the same time. Most of the o-rings around the injectors were leaking fuel.

The dealer mechanic also found excessive and large slivers of metal on the rear differential plug. Not a good sign. He had to take apart the rear diff and replace the pinion and carrier bearings. Of course, there were other things that needed repairing, but the leaking o-rings and the rear diff were the biggies.

We had a long talk with the the service adviser at the dealership and he was hopeful that repairing the fuel leak and a few other things might have fixed the poor towing performance. He suggested we do a test and pull a load up into the mountains and see how it does. My husband agreed.

This morning, we loaded Misty and Marley in the trailer and headed out for a long drive in the mountains with me at the wheel. It was a beautiful, warm day, and I've been wanting check out a dude ranch where I would like to go camping and trail riding.

We made it up a steep mountain pass with better performance than I expected, gaining hope that maybe the recent (and obscenely expensive) repairs did the trick. But as we passed through town, we started to experience some power loss.

We stopped at a red light. When it turned green I began to accelerate, but had no power. I had to shift down to 2nd to get the truck to slowly creep forward. We had watched the transmission temperature rise as we climbed the mountain and it was still high. Not in the yellow zone, but getting close at about 200 degrees.

So we stopped for a bite to eat at Taco Bell while the transmission cooled.

We'd made it over the toughest part of the drive and decided to press on to the ranch.

And then it happened!

Traveling up the steep dirt road leading to the ranch, the truck began to go slower...and s l o w e r...and s.l..o...w....e.....r, until it came to a halt. We were perplexed. So we put it in 4-wheel drive, hoping that's what we needed on this dirt road. Even in 4WD, I could not get any forward movement. The tires just wouldn't turn.

We were stuck. Stuck and blocking the 1-lane dirt road leading to this dude ranch, on a holiday weekend, during the guest check-in window.

My husband called the ranch and gave them the bad news that we were stranded on their road, with a horse trailer, and blocking access to their place.

I wanted to cry. Breaking down in any vehicle, anywhere is no fun. But breaking down with horses in tow is miserable at best. I find it frightening. And it wasn't long before someone pulling a giant 5th wheel RV came along behind us and had to wait.

The owner of the ranch was very, very nice. He came down in his F550 and towed us (truck and trailer and horses all together) up to his ranch and told us we could turn Misty and Marley out in their arena so they could rest and stretch their legs. I did that while my husband and the ranch hands peered into the truck engine and talked manly truck talk.

Misty and Marley were happy to be loose in the big arena. Marley immediately rolled in the dirt and Misty began eating the manure of strangers. I hate it when she does that! She doesn't eat manure at home, but loves to sample the dried droppings left behind by unknown equines.

After letting the transmission cool for an hour, we were on our way home.

It was smooth sailing down the mountain toward home. And my husband drove!!! My nerves were shot and I was glad to sit in the passenger seat.

But as we were nearing home, on relatively flat ground, we had some power loss again; and this time the transmission temperature was not unusually high.

What do you think it could be? I think the crappy old truck has a crappy old transmission. We've already put more into the truck in repairs than we paid for it. I think it is time to part company and this old truck needs to find a home with a young man who likes big, noisy trucks and likes to get his hands dirty.

I live in Colorado. I want to trail ride. I need a truck that can do mountains.

This old F250 is my first truck and my only experience towing horses. I'm now afraid to haul my horses with this truck. It's not safe and it scares me.

What do you drive? Gas? Diesel? How much load can you pull and do you have any trouble pulling up hills, particularly in the mountains?

Tow vehicle recommendations wanted.


  1. I hate truck problems!
    We have an old '85 diesel Ford F250 that is retired to hauling hay now. I used to haul the 4 horse bumper pull with it, the breaks got a little scary! and the trani just was slow like you say.
    We now have a 2000 Ford F350 1 ton! V10. It hauls beautifully! Havent had it up in the mountins, mostly Highway hauling and we have a really big hill by our house that it pulls with no problem!(about a mile and a half of steep hill) This truck is easy to haul with!And has great breaks! LOL Personally I prefer a gas engine. prices now are pretty close where diesel used to be cheaper. Good luck!

  2. I have a 4-horse Featherlite and pull it with a diesel 2004 F350, which has enough power for just about anything. It also has duelies in the back, which gives more stability and braking power. It's not perfect, but it's had pretty good performance, and I've done some 1,000+ mile hauls in hot weather with it. I prefer diesel for hauling - better torque.

    Also, I have US Rider roadside assistance - they will service truck and trailer, and even tow your trailer to a safe place if you break down. It doesn't cost all that much, and gives me great peace of mind.

  3. I have nothing to offer in the way of truck advice. I am just sending good vibes your way - I remember your stories from last year and this one is scary too. You deserve a good rig! Glad that rancher helped out so Misty and Marley could relax. Ugh! Very frustrating - especially the cost to your wallet at the dealer. Happy you all got home safely.

  4. Eeeeek! Scary!

    I don't have a rig right now, so no actually suggestions on that front. Maybe head to a local show and see what everyone has there? Or a trail ride?

  5. I'm in the same boat.. I need a truck that can haul my girls...

    We use our trailblazer for very very short necessary hauls but it can't be used for anything long. It's just not built for it.


  6. Awwwww....what a terrible experience - but I'm so glad that Misty and Marley had a chance to relax. Just think if this happened on the side of a busy highway someplace - ugh! But how awful to put so much money into it....and then have it fall apart.

    We tow a two-horse, slant-load bumper pull with an '08 Toyota Tundra 5.7 liter V-8. It has surprised us with how well it hauls our horses. If we have the 'Amish tractor' in the bed of the truck (a Pioneer forecart) it has a bit of a struggle, but so far, (knock on wood) has gotten us where we are going. We pulled a substantial trailer across country with many of my hubby's big tools in it.

  7. Reddunappy, I can't imagine an '85 after what I've been through with the '94. Your F350 sounds wonderful. And I'm glad you are happy with the brakes. Good brakes are a must. :-)

    Kate, another F350 with plenty of power. I don't know if I need a 1 ton or can still get by with a 3/4 ton, but will certainly consider them. US Rider is great. They came to my aid when I was stranded on the side of the highway with my horses last year. I was impressed with the service. I wouldn't haul without membership.

    I'm glad I didn't have to call US Rider on Saturday though. I would have really challenged any service provider trying to get to me with a large enough tow truck to pull my rig as the road was narrow, winding, steep, and lined with trees and big rocks. But I got the impression we weren't the first rig the dude ranch owner has had to pluck off their road. He has to keep his road clear so guest can get there and he was certainly prepared. It was amazing how easy it was for that F550. It pulled us like we were just a Volkswagon bug.

    Thank you for the good vibes juliette. I'm sick about the money we just sunk into the old truck and now have confirmed it is useless for my needs. We may give that particular dealer a shot at selling us a new truck if they will be generous on taking the old thing in on trade since we are patrons of their dealership. But that may be wishful thinking. And that can only happen if I decide to buy a Ford. I've heard the 2011 F250 is promising with it's redesign and new engine. But it is risky to buy a first model year vehicle.

    Beth...good idea. I've been trying to catch the make/model of trucks pulling trailers that I see on the road...much easier if they are all parked in one place. I think I can find an event nearby this week. Gymkhana season is starting.

    JeniQ, I hope you can get a good truck too. It's tough having horses and being limited to where you can go with them.

    Dreaming, you have a beautiful and reliable truck. Yes, Misty and Marley were very happy to relax. I think they liked the place. So much so, they didn't want to get back in the trailer. Even Marley, who has never once hesitated to load refused to go in and even backed away from the trailer. That was another ordeal of the day that I didn't post about.

    I'm going to wander some dealership lots today, just to see what they have. I'm afraid to buy used now...even lightly used. I have some homework to do researching dealer cost, etc. My company has partnership plans with Ford, Chevy, and Dodge. I gotta figure all that out. I hate car (truck) shopping. And I don't want to make another mistake.

  8. Oh my...thankful everything turned out okay. Hope you get a truck you can depend on, and soon. It's a must have with the grades on some of those mountain passes.

    We trailer locally with our Suburban, and drive the mountains without a trailer attached. I would feel safest in a big diesel for mountain trailering, and I'd still need either a jacket over my head or sedation (or both)- but it would be worth it!!

  9. We have yet to buy new off the lot; my SO's F350 diesel has over 450,000 and is still running. He abuses it terribly, has replaced one tranny, and bearings, etc. but that engine just keeps on running. He would never buy gas. He says diesel may be more expensive, but runs sooo much further.

  10. I hope you sort things out and find a new truck, so you won't worry when driving the horses anymore.
    It's a scary feeling.
    How nice you got help though, when stranded.

    I am just catching up on blogs. Like you, it's been much work lately and blogging has had to wait.

  11. I usually haul alone and know the feeling that any trunk problem can leave you with. Luckily my '92 F-150 has only had problems (most tire related) after unhitching the trailer. Both times I had problems were immediately after unhooking and heading home-one tire blowout and one tire/wheel that came off the trunk and bounced down the windy hill in front of me!

    I would certainly like a larger, manual diesel in the future.

  12. Thanks Aurora, we're hoping to have a truck within 30 days. I hear ya about the jacket over the head and sedation. There are some passes I would never take a trailer over...the ones with the straight down drop offs right next to the road and no guard rails. I like the mountain passes with wide, multiple lanes that don't make my tummy twist & turn.

    phaedra96,wow! your husbands truck is a tribute to the diesel engine. I don't think we'll buy new off the lot either. Just "newer" off the lot. The new ones are outrageously expensive.

    HorseOfCourse, I relate to the busy work load that keeps us away from blogging. I'm hoping to do some catch up this weekend and I'll be over to your blog soon to read about your travels.

    gina, glad your mishaps happened after unhitching. A tire blow out with trailer would be very scary. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

    All...well, we've driven an F350 PowerStroke, three Dodge 2500 Cummins, one Dodge 3500 Cummins, and a GMC 2500HD Duramax. Still learning and researching and being very cautious. I can't make another bad purchase.

  13. I was truck shopping once and was given a sage bit of advice... if you want to know what truck hauls best look at what the folks drive who haul the most. Look at the pro haulers... go to a rodeo and look for a trend... look at what the truckers (18 wheelers) drive at home. I did and found that Cummins was by far the favorite in these parts. Worked for me! We bought a 3500 and loved it.

  14. I got nothing as far as advice is concerned, I'm just glad everyone was OK.

  15. Chelsi, glad you like your Dodge. We've narrowed our search down to Dodge Cummins and GM Duramax, probably a 3/4 ton.

    Thanks Donna. I was glad we were at least off a busy road and that help was nearby.

  16. I love US Rider, I highly recommend it!

    I won't buy a new truck, I think they're horrible investments. But you totally want to get a 7.3L diesel Ford. Best engine they ever made, went from midd-99 to 2003. They run FOREVER and there is a reason that those of us that have them will NEVER give them up!

    In the future, if you need an AWESOME resource for truck trouble shooting, check out, those guys are great (not affiliated with Ford the company, just guys who love trucks).

  17. I have nothing to offer in the way of truck advice
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