When the wheels came off… and then the engine
Ceduna Road house to Adelaide
In the space of a week we have encountered more issues with the car than we were envisaging and found ourselves in some interesting places.
Leaving Ceduna road house on Saturday after 4 nights doing the Telegraph Track (Check out our blog on that part of the trip here) we didn’t get very far before we heard a “bang” 3km from the next roadhouse, but nearly 400km from the nearest major town. Setting off on this trip, we had 2 spare wheels/tyres and lots of tools for the job, so we could be pretty self-sufficient. However, a catalogue of issues, found us with a blown tyre, broken wheel nut, jack and wheel brace. Luckily we had a spare jack, but with no spare tools and our repaired tyre (plugged on the Telegraph Track) suddenly giving up on us, we found ourselves with two flat tyres, outside of the RAC support zone and with the roadhouses providing no support. We made a call out on the UHF radio (highway channel 40) for help and a lovely guy, with a large tool box pulled up and helped us to get on our way. We had re-repaired (couple more tyre plugs) the front tyre, but sadly only manged to limp to the roadhouse and faced another tyre change again with limited tools. A trucker came to our rescue this time as well as a lovely couple who stayed with us providing support until we had it fixed. Four hours had now passed and we had travelled less than 55km! Our plans to travel the Old Eyre highway were beyond our reach, having no spares, so we spent another night at a roadhouse and made it with no further incidents to Ceduna where we picked up two new tyres and some more tools. Fortunately we phoned ahead the day before to the Bridgestone tyre centre in Ceduna who managed to source a couple of Cooper tyres in our size to be there on our arrival. We would have preferred the Bridgestone Deuleur D697 however this was all we could get our hands on at short notice. We had vowed never to use Coopers again after previous issues although these ones are an LT construction so will hopefully keep us going. We spent a couple of lovely nights at Streaky Bay and felt all our issues were behind us….or so we thought!!!!!!!!
Coffin Bay National Park was supposed to be our home for the next two nights offering an abundance of hikes. The campsite we had planned to base ourselves at was undergoing an upgrade, so we decided to head further into the park, to camp at a site along a 4×4 track. It was late afternoon when we started our 13km journey along a mixture of limestone and sandy tracks. Some deep sand meant that the Maxtrax were out and we lowered the pressures further to 16psi to get through. However maybe we didn’t stop soon enough while powering through to reduce the pressures, maybe it was just bad luck, but a strange smell started coming from the car. At this point we decided to turn around as we didn’t know what challenges the track ahead would bring us and it was getting late. On reaching the tarmac it wasn’t long until the low coolant warning came on, the smell got worse and we started seeing steam coming from the engine. We limped to the carpark temporary campsite, after topping up the engine with coolant, but with nowhere to set up our camping rig and strong winds, we tried and failed to get back to the township of Streaky Bay… well we only made it 500m, before the car lost power and now the engine warning light also came on and the game was over. A call at 6.20 pm to the RAC at the side of the road was made and this time we could be rescued, but it was nearly 9pm before the RAA truck (SA’s RAC) made it to us and he nearly turned back empty handed as he struggled finding us. It was a sad sight to see everything loaded on flat bed and after a crazy fast journey in the truck, nearly hitting kangaroos and some heavy breaking around corners, we arrived in Port Lincoln. I’m still not sure if the RAA guy was genuinely looking after us or himself. He took us to his disused old fire station where he parks his truck and left us in this dusty, dirty creepy fire station, but at least we were in civilization and safe, it could have been a lot worse. We ended up staying here a further night after asking to be moved to the local caravan park never happened, we later found out he was trying to charge us $35 a night, I think you would have to pay me to ever stay there again. Eventually we found there was a Land rover garage in Port Lincoln, who advised us to be towed to Adelaide, which we did but not before our friendly RAA man, unknowingly beforehand was to charge us to assess the engine, putting us on our first circle of hope that the damage was just a simple hole in the coolant tank. It just shows when you’re in a stressful situation, you need your whit’s about you. Luckily we didn’t process any hire car or accommodation charges, so the RAC covered our $1,500 tow to Adelaide.
On Monday we drove a hire car to Adelaide that the RAA man wanted relocated, while our car and trailer followed behind the next day at the guys super high speed driving. We were pleased to set off the night before so we could escape the fire station and drive at a sensible pace during daylight. We stopped over at a nice motel and had dinner and wine. The Disco was booked in with Sovereign Motors in Adelaide who specialise in Land Rover and Jaguar. Meeting the guys from Sovereign filled us with confidence as they really understand Land Rovers and that’s hard to find in Australia and I was certain if it could be fixed then these guys would have the best chance. We were back on the circle of hope with the car engine, hoping they could replace a few key parts and not the whole engine, sadly this wasn’t to be and we are now waiting for the garage to replace the engine.. The culprit to all our problems was a plastic coolant housing which has blown off and the guys at Sovereign reckon this is a common fault and always recommend a new metal part to be fitted rather than the plastic one. This has caused the Coolant to leak, quite likely when we were trying to get through the deep sand and after getting off the 4×4 track we have overheated the engine. The guys sourced a second hand engine with 100,000KM on it (mine had 250,000) and the job was looking like a week to source the engine and other parts and get it all fitted. We are now in the process of waiting for the job to be completed which looks like this Friday (09th December), fingers crossed as we need to push on into Victoria.
Luckily we had some amazing friends, Adam and Belinda in Adelaide who we could stay with while we were sorting everything out. We then stayed for a further 5 nights at Belinda’s parents cottage in Silverton Nr. Cape Jarvis and continued to explore the Fleurieu peninsular. Let’s hope this is the end of all the bad luck.