Maintenance, Repair, and Upgrades: The Whisky’s 2023 Saga – Part 5

Another Rubicon trip was in the books. In spite of the drag link failure, the locker failure, and a yet to be diagnosed issue on the way back down the mountain, I only missed one night and part of one day of the trip. But I wasn’t home yet. Back to Big O Tires, Placerville to see what’s wrong and find out if it can be fixed so that I can make the 450 mile drive home.

I was waiting when they opened. Just like last time, they fit me in. The shop manager looked at The Whisky personally. After a very short time he came back in and said, “I’m glad you brought it in when you did. Come here, I want to show you.”

The Whisky was on the rack with the front, driver side wheel off. The brake caliper was barely hanging on. One bolt had come out and was missing. The other bolt had already backed out over half way. He told me I wouldn’t have gotten too much further without that second bolt working it’s way all the way out. Then the caliper would have fallen off. If that had happened I would have lost brakes and if it got bound up in the front suspension I could have also lost steering.

This was the second potentially life threatening failure due to bolts coming loose! He checked the passenger side as well. While they weren’t backing out yet, he said they were not tight. They could also have become a problem.

Somehow I got lucky again! Not just that I got to the shop before a catastrophic failure. But also that it didn’t look like the rotor or caliper was damaged. He got two new bolts, reassembled it, and said that should be good to get me home. However, he told me to be sure to get them looked at. I might need new pads due to uneven wear from running a loose caliper.

We were almost done. The ABS/Traction Control lights were on again. I was really beginning to hate those lights! I asked him if he figure that out. I didn’t want to try driving from Placerville to Los Angeles and have something else fall off in the middle of nowhere. He spent several hours in between other customers trouble shooting. Ultimately the drag link steering knuckle nut AND the frame side track bar bolt were loose. You could see them wiggle when the steering wheel was turned back and forth.

After tightening those bolts the lights were out and the steering felt better! We were done! And he barely charged me for the time he spent troubleshooting. I cannot say enough how much I appreciated the entire shop taking care of The Whisky and making sure I could make my trip and get home safely!

The drive home was a bit nerve wracking. But it was uneventful. Finally I was home with no injury and no serious damage. There was still follow up work to do. But from this position, everything else was doable.

The lockers have been replaced but not yet field tested. The drag link has been replaced with one that uses a castle nut and cotter pin design. It may come loose, but it will never fall off. The brakes checked out okay. I didn’t even need new pads. All-in-all I got VERY lucky all the way around! Now I just need to go through and re-torque ALL the nuts and bolts. Then I’m ready for the next adventure!



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