Monkeys, Gerbils, and the Electric Shift Solenoid

I took my mom Christmas shopping today. Our little, Mercury Topaz was sitting in the driveway in pieces because of an annoying, screechy pulley, so I decided that it would be a good day to take my baby out. She’s a Chevy, S10 pickup with 4-wheel drive, great gas mileage, and a cap to keep the groceries dry. Though she’s not a young girl any more, she drives like a dream, clings to the road, and will haul just about anything. It’s probably the country hick in me that makes me love a pickup. True, she is a little difficult for Mom to get into, but being an independent woman, Mom shunned the idea of help, climbed into the cab of her own accord, and we were off on our Christmas shopping adventure.

The weather was unseasonably warm and inviting and the traffic was light. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day… until…

I slowed the truck to a stop at a red light, and the 4-wheel drive indicator light flashed on. We came to a grinding stop as the transmission screamed in agony. Trying to appear nonchalant, so as not to upset my mother, I pulled to the side of the highway and worked with the gear shift until I was sure the truck was out of 4 wheel drive, then pulled back onto the road. The grinding had stopped, but by the time I got my mom home, the truck had consumed an incredible amount of gasoline, and she wasn’t leaking. I had checked the fluids earlier in the day. They were fine. I checked them again. There was no change. Suspecting that she was still locked in 4 wheel drive or that my transmission was headed south, I decided to call my husband before I left for the evening and alert him to the possibility that he would have to come out to rescue me. My truck went as far as my driveway, and that is where she will sit until we can find out why she goes in and out of 4 wheel drive on her own. So, I have been scanning the repair sites.

The first thing I learned was that I didn’t know as much as I thought I knew. (Or used to know. Were vehicles actually simpler when I was young or am I remembering the past incorrectly?) The second thing I learned was that people who work on cars and trucks speak a different language.

What I know about my truck’s engine.

What the sites told me was that the problem could be the electric, shift solenoid that engages the transfer case and sends the power through the auxiliary drive shaft to the front differential. It could be something as simple as a loose hose or wire. (Which hose? Which wire? There must be a hundred of them.) It could be a bad actuator, or the transfer case, control module, or it just might be a vacuum switch that sends power to a cable that pulls the tail of a monkey, who pushes a button, that sounds an alarm, that wakes up the gerbils, who make the wheels go round. (Just kidding. Gerbils could never turn the wheels. It would have to at least be guinea pigs.) There are more possibilities than my confused mind can understand, but I found one thing through my research, and that was a new respect for the grease covered person that crawls under an ailing vehicle and actually manages to diagnose the problem.

Sue

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Monkeys, Gerbils, and the Electric Shift Solenoid

  1. Yes — cars have changed. 🙂 I used to understand some about my old Chrysler, but today, forget it. Though, I never understood as much as you. You go, girl!

    My favorite caption has to be, “call a tow truck if it’s spewing scalding steam.” I’m guessing you know this from experience?

  2. The cars we had when my children were young were always breaking down. By the time the kids were ten, they knew to jump out and start pushing even before I got the chance to moan, “Oh, no! Not again!”

  3. I love all your captions. I can so relate.

    • Sometimes I think It would be great to have a brand new car or truck so that I wouldn’t have to go through this, but I know of someone who had their new truck to the shop six times in the first year. So I guess as long as we drive cars we can expect break downs.

  4. The way you talk about your car, those are the kinds of compliments any woman would appreciate “she drives like a dream, clings to the road and will haul just about anything.”

    I’m impressed – all I know about cars is if you don’t put gas in them at regular intervals, they stop running in inconvenient locations.

  5. That happened to me once. My hubby told me that I had enough gas to make it to and from work, and I ran out on Main Street (blocking traffic of course). To make it worse the police pulled up behind me. Nothing like a little ride in a police cruiser to make you appreciate your husband’s gift of estimation.

  6. My truck is running again! My husband fixed it! Yeah! (Can I take back the previous comment?)

  7. Funny engine diagrams. (It would be so much easier with gerbils)

    • You are sooo right! I would love to see someone invent a gerbil powered car. I would only need to provide a water bottle, some food pellets, and pat them on the head once in a while and all would be fine.

  8. I love the way you talk about your girl. I have a Ford 4×4 and love her too.

  9. There is just something about an old pickup truck…

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