This post could be just as aptly titled, “How to be an idiot in one easy step!” I’m going to share an experience I had last year as I was starting the final leg of a 1,000 mile road trip. This post is more funny than educational, so go ahead and laugh. At me. I deserve it.
I drive a 1995 Toyota 4Runner, with a 5 speed manual transmission. It is a fun vehicle that has easily taken me across deserts and into mountains. Last year I hit 285,000 miles. The engine is original, but was partially rebuilt at 245,000 miles.
I was in Salt Lake City, driving from Southern California to Idaho, a distance of almost exactly 1,000 miles, when I started experiencing some problems. I heard a buzzing sound first, but ignored it because I thought it was my wheel bearing (which was bad). A few minutes later, traveling at 65 mph, my car started shaking violently. I could no longer see clearly because of the rapid vibrations, so I made my way on faith to the shoulder. The shaking was so intense, that my CB antenna broke off at the base, right above the mounting spring. I came to a stop, safely on the shoulder and got out to inspect the damage. To my surprise, the front drive shaft had seized. Strange, I thought, the front drive line should not have been engaged. Well, I got back in my car and limped to the exit ramp (which thankfully was only 100 feet away). I continued limping about a quarter of a mile until I arrived in a Walmart parking lot.
If I only knew at the time that my A.D.D. (Automatic Disconnecting Differential) was manually engaged, I could have avoided limping by forcing it to disengage. In fact, I could have avoided the entire circumstance! Unfortunately, hindsight is 20/20.
After parking, I got out to inspect the damage and remove the drive shaft. I noticed, to great displeasure, that not only had the drive line seized, it had literally exploded. There was a hole in the transmission casing, just above the oil level, that was just about large enough to fit my little finger into. Wonderful, what am I to do about that?
It is amazing how quickly you can come up with solutions when you really need to. And that’s when I thought of this:
Ya, that is J-B Weld, QuikSteel, and part of a Mountain Dew can. If I had known that my vacuum lines were switched, I could have avoided this fiasco. Hey, but at least my transmission’s got style now! (Oh, and my drive shafts are always well-lubed).