On September 20,2013, while leisurely driving south on I-75 heading for Palmetto to see Ken, the fuel light came on. Hmm, gauge said “1/4 full” when I left Spring Hill, an hour and a half north. Not having any idea how much diesel fuel was “in reserve” when the fuel light came on, I took the next exit to fill up. Palmetto was another 25 miles and I wasn’t going to take any chances trying to make it there on fumes, then, run out..
Having a choice of Shell and Hess for fuel, I headed for Hess as it was usually cheaper. It was a mere 0.3 miles further from the Interstate than the Shell. The diesel pumps were the first ones entering the filling station. Neither pump was in use; i pulled up to the first. After the usual credit card requirements, I got the pump ready to go and started pumping fuel and faced the Jeep the whole time as I had to hold the handle since the clip to put it on auto fill was removed. When filled, I finished up, grabbed the receipt and got back in the Jeep. It was 4:20 pm. I’d get to the RV Park before 5 pm.
I pulled out of the station. I went a couple hundred feet when the Jeep quietly lost power. I eased it onto the shoulder of the road and coasted to a stop putting on the emergency flashers. After trying to restart the Jeep three times I put a call out to Ken. After explaining the situation, he wondered if I had run out of fuel and possibly gotten air in the fuel line prior to filing the tank up. No, the motor was running when I pulled up to the pump and turned off the motor. He gave me the Good Sam Roadside Service number. He’d start checking what places were available for service on the Jeep near the RV Park.
The call to Good Sam took 20 minutes. A tow truck would arrive in 90 minutes. It’s now 4: 50 pm and 90 degrees. With the front of the Jeep facing west, heaven only knows how hot it is inside! Directly right of the road, on the service road is a Baptist Church. Grabbing my water bottle, purse and phone, I headed down the ditch, up the other side, across the road and to the church. The ladies attending to church activities invited me in for water and to use the restroom. They suggested that I stay at the church in the shade in a chair at the covered entry. I could watch for the tow truck from there. There was a nice breeze. Those three women each checked on me during the next 80 minutes. The tow truck arrived after 89 minutes. Wow! He was early, even if it was by one minute. It’s 6:19 pm.
Crossing that ditch may not have been the best idea. For a distance of six feet at the lowest point, it was filled with water from recent rains. The weeds were tall enough to hide the water which went up to my ankles. Fortunately, there were no snakes and the sandals were old. With the heat, they were dry by the time the tow truck driver arrived.
Ken had found a dealership in Bradenton. It was close enough that he could ride his bike over there the next day, check on the Jeep and get a rental car. We’d get the Jeep towed there. I re-called Good Sam while the tow truck driver began the process of getting the Jeep onto the flatbed. The order for service had to be completely redone as we wanted the vehicle taken to a location other than what they had selected. We would pay $4 per mile extra for every mile exceeding the distance of their choice. That was an extra 12.44 miles. Jeff, the tow truck driver, had everything ready and the new delivery address cleared with his boss. We were on the Interstate before Francisco from Good Sam had everything done including the charge for the extra mileage and gave his approval to leave the tow site for the dealership; the call took 40 minutes.
While I had been sitting in the shade at the Baptist church I took out the Hess receipt and realized that I had put regular unleaded gasoline into the fuel tank. For all you Catholics out there, I prayed tree Rosaries while waiting for the tow. I explained that to the driver. Jeff didn’t even laugh at my error; …he had great customer service! I wasn’t going to tell Ken until I saw him; otherwise I’d cry as I was so upset about my error.
Ken arranged for Woody, former owner of the RV, to come from Sarasota to pick me up at the dealership when Jeff and I arrived at 7:30. Woody would bring me and my belongings to the RV Park. I told him what I’d done based upon the gas receipt. He asked me which gas station I’d gone to. When I told him “Hess,” he said that they put green handles on many of their fuel hoses. Great! We travelled through 14 states this past summer and ONLY diesel pumps had green handles. Of course, we never visited a Hess station either. Well, I’ll be triple checking the pumps and handles every time I have to refuel from now on. Woody wanted to know if Ken was having a drink as we drove to the RV. I replied, “At least two by now.” We got there at 7:45. Woody stayed while I told Ken what had happened and Woody explained the green handle problem at Hess. I wasn’t the first person to do this. He also assured Ken that the repair would be minor and not require a major engine fix.
For me, this was a rather expensive error with the tow, repair and car rental, nearly $700. Fortunately, only the fuel filter had to be replaced. Engine was fine. Of course the dealership tried to tell Ken that we needed an additional $1200 worth of work. Not happening; not necessary. We have a very good, reliable shop for work in Spring Hill. I’d just been there earlier that week. The dealership still identified a few things needing replacement. Any wonder people don’t like or trust them. Ken did the next fill-up