I’ve mentioned my car many times in my blog. My “Eletent”, the trusty Honda Element that has carried me all over the US and Canada and been my mobile tent through it all, has racked up a lot of miles. At 220,000 miles it was only to be expected that eventually something would go wrong while on the road.
I just wasn’t expecting it to happen while on dirt roads almost two hours from a mechanic. I was wandering around the back roads of southern Colorado, somewhere in the Cimmaron Mountains when I bumped my exhaust on a boulder. It wasn’t a hard knock, hardly worth the resulting noise that emitted from my exhaust system. The Eletent is manueverable and hardy, but has low clearance, so I’m generally keen to stay away from routes more suited to raised Jeeps. I’m not very engine-savvy though, so after a look under my car, all I could diagnose was that it was angry and made a grumbly noise when in Drive.
It was drivable though, so the only thing to do was to drive the 90 minutes to Gunnison where I knew there were mechanics. I cringed at every sound from my engine, both the normal and the new, expecting at any moment the engine would growl, clank and start smoking. None of that happened though and I eventually made it to Gunnison, where I pulled up to the first mechanic shop in town.
The guys at Mechanic On Duty were busy, but took the time to check out my car to at least diagnose what was going on. Verdict- the exhaust system was kaput and would need to be replaced. I was glad to hear that I hadnt irreperably damaged my vehicle, nor had I mistreated it terribly….besides residing on the East Coast where road salt and constant water erode metal and cause rust.
Unfortunately, Mechanic On Duty wouldn’t be able to see me for a week. I asked them how far I would be able to drive it as it was and was told, with a smile, that I could definitely make it over to Gunnison Muffler just around the corner.
Gunnison Muffler was also too busy to fix my car, but they did have one of their mechanics look under the car to make sure I could make the 3.5 hour drive to the Denver area where I had friends with connections and mechanics. It was suggested that I roll down my windows to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, but otherwise I’d be ok.
On the way to Denver I got in touch with my friends who got in touch with their friends and got a plan of action in place. I would be staying with one friends family over the weekend and having another friend’s mechanic friend look at the Eletent on Monday.
In the end, the mechanic friend was able to direct me to a muffler shop, where my catalytic converter was replaced and they in turn directed me to another mechanic to finish up the repairs. I ended up learning quite a bit about my engine and how it worked and why things went wrong in the order they did. Chris at All-Around Auto Care was especially informative and patient with me, wanting me to understand what was going on and to put me at ease that I was doing the necessary repairs. I can NOT say enough good things about Chris and All-Around Auto Care.
Monday was a VERY long and rather expensive day, but it resulted in a fully operational car.
One thing I will say for my misadventures, they make me hyperaware of how incredibly fortunate I am. I’ve got amazing friends and meet more amazing people in my travels all the time.
Special thanks to:
The awesome guys at Mechanic On Duty in Gunnison, Colorado
The helpful people at Gunnison Muffler & Pipe in Gunnison, Colorado
Chris and the other guys at All-Around Auto Care in Westminster, Colorado