Transmissions From the Show Me State
Originally Posted November 2009 on Tumblr
Last day of the tour was in St. Louis. A bit of a hike from Dallas, so we left early and tried to keep the stops to a minimum. We finally pulled off in Springfield Missouri for gas and grub, and as we did so the van began making weird noises and chugging along, having difficulty going faster than about 30. It also ceased being able to go in reverse, meaning we had to be verrrry strategic about our parking.
Given all of this, we knew the problem was the transmission. Hopefully it was just the same problem as earlier in the tour, when the van was just a little low on transmission fluid and adding some fixed the rattling/chugging problem we were running into on the highway.
But this seemed a little more serious, and alas it was. The mechanic stuck a dipstick in my face. “Smell this,” he said.
“Well?” he asked.
“Uh, well I guess it doesn’t smell good or anything…”
“It’s burnt. Burnt transmission fluid. You’ve got a problem with the transmission. Sorry, but we can’t do anything for you here.”
All of the transmission places in town were closed until Monday. Presumably, it would be an expensive repair. So, we decided to ditch the van at a transmission shop (leaving a note for them) and rent our way out of town. The car rental places at the airport had one — one! — vehicle between the five of them that would be able to go one-way to Minneapolis. So we had to take that AND a U-Haul for the gear. Bummer. At least we got to enjoy the CD player for a full 22 hours!
However, we were lucky in one sense— had we chosen to take some random, small exit rather than the one for Springfield, there’s no way we would have found a car shop, a U-haul, or a car rental place, and would have almost certainly been stuck in some small town for days.
We hauled ass, still made it the show — which despite being pretty zonked from a full day on the road plus all the van shit ended up being pretty fun.
We drove straight home at 2am when the show got done, stopping for 3 hours of sleep at a rest stop. Except for having to ditch the van, it was an all-around blast of a tour!