Dear Oppo, I have a confession to make. Last night, I did not fill my fuel tank. I left is a shade under a quarter full. And I knew full well what the weather today would be.

Today was just as the weather forecast had said it would be: really fucking cold. By the time I got out to brush the snow off my car for my daily trip to McMaster-Carr, it was -30ºF. Not including the 20º of wind chill, because those only make it harder for me. The car doesn't care about the wind chill as much. I started my engine. It cranked for 75 seconds before grumbling to life. It's close enough to November for me to be thankful for semi-truck sized batteries. But my car had started. I was concerned that my fuel lines might have been frozen with condensation. But the car was running, so everything must be good, right? I drove to the gas station and filled my tank to 3/4 full, as I usually do. I drifted through the parking lot, and I noticed something funny. My gas gauge suddenly read full. Maybe the sender was confused by the sloshing gas from my embarrassing attempt at drifting. I pulled out onto the main road and let it settle down. The gauge was still pegged at full. I ignored it.

Twenty minutes later, I pulled into the massive complex that is McMaster-Carr. And right before I pulled into the parking lot, my engine quit. All the electronics were still on. I could crank, but nothing happened. Shit.


This had happened to me a few times before, albeit in very different circumstances. Both of those times, a sketchy fuel pump fuse was at hand. I have several boxes of fuses in my glove box. As it happens, changing a bullet fuse in a fuse box made of duct tape is very difficult when my hands are feeling the wind chill. But I got it done, climbed back in the car, and cranked it. Nothing. Probably another fuse. I replaced every other fuse in the fusebox that I couldn't see direct proof of functioning. And once more, I cranked the car. Still nothing.


I recruited a nearby truck to help push me into the parking lot so I was out of the way. I went inside and called AAA. They were so busy I couldn't even get through. I got a ride home, and left my car.



But here's the thing. I did something stupid. I think that there was ice in my gas tank, which worked loose and is now clogging a fuel line. And so my only option is to get a tow to somewhere warm to let my car thaw out. Which will be expensive, as I don't have a garage, much less a heated one. In the future I need to keep my gas tank full, or close to it. And maybe add some heet.

I got really unlucky today, because now I'm down my only vehicle until I can get it working again. But I'm also incredibly lucky, because I couldn't have broken down in a better place. I had a warm indoor room to sit in, and access to an almost infinite supply of parts. And I wasn't even all that far from home. Had my car stopped five minutes earlier, I would have been dead on the side of I-290 in -50ºF temperatures, with an AAA response time nearing four hours. I have a tow truck coming to pick up my car tomorrow morning, and I'm getting it towed to a mechanic I know. Hopefully they won't charge me too much for thawing out my car, but I don't have another option. Such is life driving a sketchy old car in the winter.

Be careful out there, oppo. It's cold.