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If your vehicle has problems and you're in a place far, far away...


wiiawiwb
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I planned on trekking out to a new location this past Friday to explore the area and then return yesterday and stay overnight. Friday was derailed by weather. Yesterday (Sunday), the forecast was gorgeous and I was in the car and en route by 7am. I wasn't a mile from home when the "low tire pressure" popped up on my car's screen. Uh oh.

 

I pulled into a convenient store that has an air pump. Front left tire was low as was the back left tire. The front right tire was low so I was batting a thousand when I looked at my left rear tire--it was a pancake on asphalt. I was able to add air to each of them, including the pancake, and limp back home. 

 

It dawned on me, what on earth would I do if this had happened miles from humanity where there is no cell service. It was time to get serious about emergency gear. I just ordered a battery charger (NOCO GB50) and an air compressor (ViAir 300P). Naturally, none of these were available locally so I have to wait for them to arrive. There are a few other things I need to have for emergency vehicle gear purposes that I will need to address. I don't ever want to be in this position again in the hinterlands.

 

I thought I would throw this out there and see what everyone else has in their vehicle to help themselves if some problem arises. What contingency plans have you made to plans if something in your vehicle fails? 

Edited by wiiawiwb
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Great advice!

My brother, two of his kids and I went hunting deep in the back country. In a wind storm and heavy down pour, we got a flat. We put the spare tire on and it was 2/3 flat. We were slowly limping along until we came to an area that there was 5 or 6 pickups driving around. We asked the people in the first vehicle if they had a compressor and they did. I was surprised. I didn't even know they existed. The next pickup came up and said he had one if the first one didn't work. Pretty soon we had 4 vehicles there with us and 3 of them had compressors. This was my brother's new truck's maiden voyage into the wilderness. After he got home he discovered that his truck came with a compressor that was kept in the compartment were the tire Iron and jack was located. Good thing we came across a truck with a compressor.

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I carry an old-school two hand powered bicycle / ball pump. It can pump up a car tire easily enough, just takes a while. Used to pump up my trailer tire every couple of weeks with it. For the trailer, it took about 3 to 5 minutes. About 300 strokes or so, I think. They can be had for cheap. Just make sure it has a Schraeder valve attachment.

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Admin

Or consider run flat tires:
 

https://mechanicbase.com/tires/run-flat-tires/

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In addition to the compressor or pump, get a puncture repair kit. It wont fix a big sidewall cut, but will fix a nail/screw/branch hole through the tread area, and they're cheap. Then seriously consider a satellite locater beacon/text device, such as Garmin or Zoleo. You can text out from anywhere with one, and also have a simple push button SOS beacon, for serious emergencies.

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BFF Donor

How did you get 4 flat tires?  Valve stem sabotage?

I have a 12VDC air compressor and carry 2 full size spare tires.  Throw the doughnut spare away. Many tires are unidirectional so I end up with a spare for each side with correct rotation. Could put both on the same side if needed. I carry all needed hoses and belts. Clutch cable too. Spare fusible links. Jumper cables. Total coolant capacity sloshing around in the back. Propane torch.  I always park in the exit direction.

Words of wisdom that are difficult for some of you:  always buy a vehicle that you can push by yourself. Manual transmission if you can.

I have AAA.

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BFF Donor

I only experienced one flat tire. The other three were continuously low on air but were kept filled by my adding air every three hours. Never wanted to test if they would go flat.  The tire shop found a nail in one, which I had already alerted them to, but found no reason why the other 3 tires would be losing air.  I'm never comfortable when I get "I have no idea" from either a mechanic or a doctor. I just went outside and checked the air pressure in those tires and all around 35.

 

I'll continue monitoring the air pressure and if I continue to have any doubt or concern, I'll just replace all 4.  That's roughly $900-$1,000 for the tires I use and I'm not eager to throw that down the rathole...yet.

 

I'll definitely get a tire-repair kit. I've also read it is a good idea to get a spare fuse for the air compressor. Two added to the list and I won't make the mistake of waiting.  Excellent points Catmandoo. You have thought this out. I always have my InReach Mini so I could text if needed.

 

People who are handy and/or mechanically oriented are much better at this than me. It is a benefit to be able to understanding of how things work and be able to fix them. Sadly, the only tools in my toolbox are my credit card and checkbook.

 

 

 

Edited by wiiawiwb
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Admin

Also the cans of inflator/leak plugger. They can at least get you to a place where the tire(s) can be fixed. As already said about other items, they do not do much for sidewall issues, but can help most "normal" flats.

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BFF Donor

I carry a plug kit as well as one of these-

 

image.png.23745ca8d3fa60cfc04830004b65a693.png

 

I can jump the battery or inflate tires with it.  

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@wiiawiwb

 

I had a similar issue this year (dead battery while camping in the Stanislaus NF in the Sierra Nevada).

I got lucky that a USNF ranger was driving the dirt roads checking on illegal campfires.

He jump started my car with the gadget linked below.

When I returned home, I bought the same gadget and keep it in my vehicle all the time.

 

https://www.amazon.com/HULKMAN-Alpha85-Starter-20000mAh-Portable/dp/B08M41FX48/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=hulkman+alpha85+jump+starter&qid=1622504102&sr=8-3

 

In addition, I bought a portable air compressor that I also keep in the vehicle.  See 2nd link below.

I like this air compressor because it has a digital read-out that lets me know the current pressure of the tires and it will automatically stop inflating the tires when the target pressure is reached.

I got to use it recently on a long trip to Idaho where my 2 front tires looked low and I quickly added a few more psi of air while in the Payette NF.

 

https://www.amazon.com/VacLife-Air-Compressor-Tire-Inflator/dp/B07MKSP49L/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?dchild=1&keywords=vaclife+air-compressor+tire+inflator&qid=1622504446&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUExSzFHSU8xTEpJNjFIJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNDg5MjMwMlNPN0QyQk5ER1pJTyZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUExMDQxOTg2MkRGREIzRzM4VDhGSCZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX2F0ZiZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=

 

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I've had two "dead in my tracks" moments.    First, with a new '98 Jeep Wrangler, I hit a water bar on a graveled road and the whole jeep went dead.   I had headlights, wipers, but no juice to the engine.   Couldn't crank, couldn't roll start, nada.   I got a little speed coasting backwards then locked the brakes cranked the wheel and spun it around nose downhill and coasted about 3/4ths of a mile 'til I came to a rise I didn't have enough momentum to coast over.   From there ... I walked some miles, then, back on the more main gravel, I thumbed a ride with a passing car out to a remote store which had a pay phone.    Second, with my '08 Frontier, I apparently hit something in the road punching a hole right through the center of both driver's side tires.   Didn't know it for a half mile.    I heard the hissing when I stopped at a stop sign at the saddle at the top of the mountain where many roads met.   2 flats, 1 spare.   I'll let you imagine some of the commentary I offered.  It was not fit for polite company.   I jacked it up quickly setting the truck on .. either rocks or blocks of wood .. and started walking.    After a ways, I managed to thumb a ride with a passing car.  

 

The crazy thing is both times, it was <the same person> driving the passing car.    Different road systems, probably 35-40 miles apart.   Same person.  

 

In the first case I got a tow truck to tow the jeep to the nearest dealership.   It turned out to be a major connector in the electrical harness had not been snapped together at the factory and the bump had separated the halves.   Easy fix but I was down, immobile, and missed several days of work waiting for it.    In the second case, the driver dropped me at my dad's house, I took his truck up, pulled all 4 tires off my truck, and took them into town and got a new set of 4, put them on the truck on the way by, then got my dad to shuttle me back to retrieve my truck.   Very lucky it was not vandalized down in that country but I didn't have a choice.

 

This stuff is like making something idiot proof.   If you make it idiot proof, they'll upgrade the idiot.    There is only so much you can do, so much you can reasonably anticipate.   Probably the one "tool" that you can carry to address the most problems is a satellite phone.    Take the basics ... take the things you know how to use to address the things you know how to fix.   Take a sat phone.   Take whatever supplies you need to survive on location 'til help arrives .. blankets, food, water, a heat source.   

 

MIB

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BFF Donor
4 hours ago, MIB said:

The crazy thing is both times, it was <the same person> driving the passing car.    Different road systems, probably 35-40 miles apart.   Same person.  

 

This happens on your basic Twilight Zone trips.

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BFF Donor
8 hours ago, MIB said:

This stuff is like making something idiot proof.   If you make it idiot proof, they'll upgrade the idiot.    There is only so much you can do, so much you can reasonably anticipate.   Probably the one "tool" that you can carry to address the most problems is a satellite phone.    Take the basics ... take the things you know how to use to address the things you know how to fix.   Take a sat phone.   Take whatever supplies you need to survive on location 'til help arrives .. blankets, food, water, a heat source.   

 

MIB

 

I have a satellite messenger (Inreach Mini) as many of us do. No question a satellite phone would be faster and more efficient. At some point, I may look into one of those again and see what rate plans are available where it would only be used in an emergency.

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It doesn't seem like how many parts, tools, and equipment I carry. "Stuff" happens:

 

I left late for my moose hunt this year because the newer Argo I just bought wouldn't run after I ran it into my garage to pack it.  There's some kind of bizarre carburator problem. I had already used it last month on a very deep caribou hunt; over 20 miles in to a VERY lonely valley. I was actually glad it broke in my garage and not out in the trail. I ordered a carb kit for it, then quickly prepped my old Argo for this trip. 

 

The morning I left home (Sunday, Sept. 5), the utility trailer that I haul the Argo in had a flat. Nobody open to repair it. I'm starting to feel a bit nervous. God might be telling me something, but I never seem to understand these "messages". Am I supposed to be determined, or should I call it off? I put the spare on and aired up the flat. It's a slow leak. It became my new spare. 

 

It rained all the way up to the upper Chulitna River area. I stayed in the camper all day and night Monday. Tuesday morning it was overcast and looked threatening, but it wasn't rainy. My camp spot goal was only about 5 miles in, but there were some pretty rough trail areas. A creek actually took the trail over for a hundred yards or so, and there were several creek crossings. I got right up to the ridge I wanted to camp on, but went past it a bit to the worse spots on the trail.........and broke a chain. No power to the rear 3 wheels on the right side. I got the chain unbound, but found that I'd left my chain repair parts and tools in the newer Argo.

 

It was a wet 5 mile hike out. At least it was daylight..........

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........I had a satellite phone. I called the Argo dealer to verify that they had master links and half links on hand. They did. Mrs. Huntster was in Anchorage tending to grandkids. I called her to stop at the dealer that evening and pick up the parts. Then I started the walk. It took a few hours. I was slow going in the mud. On the way I thought about another party riding around in three Argos. I as betting one of them was a lot smarter than I am.......

 

When I got back to the trailhead (which is a big gravel pit), I changed clothes, then approached the other damp. I offered them $120 (which was how much Mrs. Huntster or my brother-in-law would burn in fuel to bring me parts) for a master link and ride back up the mountain. They were good with it. We'd leave the next morning. 

 

Good thing I didn't walk back in with a master link; we broke off another link trying to fix it. But the Doc (one of them was an orthopedic surgeon) had a length of fresh bulk chain, so we changed out the whole thing, and I followed them out. I gave him another $100 for the chain.

 

I always carry a few $100 bills and a couple of plastic 750 liter bottles of booze on trips. People are much more willing to help if you bribe them........

 

I ended up hunting with one of my rescuers fir the remainder of the trip from the gravel pit. I'll be better prepared next year.......

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