Todo por América

Wayne Bernhardson, who splits his time between California and South America, writes about a happenstance encounter in Oakland with a couple driving overland from Ushuaia to Alaska:

Eduardo and Emilia, though, had car problems—the starter had given out on their 2012 vehicle and the Citroën itself is almost unknown in this country except, perhaps, for a few collectors. Parking outside, they had to leave the car running (and locked) because they could only start it on an incline. After a brief visit and a thermos of mate, drunk while Ona cavorted with my daughter’s boxer mix in the garden (my elderly and arthritic malamute could only observe), I accompanied them to our local mechanic, who told us they couldn’t work on the exotic French vehicle (Citroën have not been sold in the US since 1974).

Fortunately, using the mobile app iOverlander, they located a Guatemalan mechanic who managed to repair the starter, but their situation suggests a greater problem worth the attention of anyone who takes a Pan-American road trip.

Brings back memories of my old Datsun 510, which could only be started by judicious use of a screwdriver to perform the electrical functions that the malfunctioning ignition switch would normally perform. I recall finding myself in Ottawa once, unable to turn off the car lest I not be able to start it again, but in need of gasoline. In violation of many laws, and of common sense, I pulled up to a Canadian Tire gas bar in Kanata, to the pump farthest from the cashier, and gassed up without turning the car off.


Martin's picture
Martin on August 18, 2018 - 12:49 Permalink

I had an old 1986 VW GTI that in the winter time I used to have to turn the key to on, then pop the hood and run a wire from the battery to the starter motor to get it to turn to start the car. It was a real hit on dates!