Fridays seems to be troublesome, at least mechanically. While most of the people are decompressing from a week worth of work, I’m flying high on adrenaline. Parked the van beside the market to pick up some food and after an hour the Sprinter became dead weight. Not again! Upon returning from the market inserted the key into the ignition and the key said “I’m not turning!”. Tried again, same. Again, again, again, nada. OK, owners manual time. The manual said ‘if the key is not turning the electricity might be low at the panel’. Checked the voltage on the spare battery, seemed fully charged, switched the batteries around. Nada. OK, pulled extension from inverter set up charger waited until charger said ‘full’. Nada. Key would not turn, neither the spare one. Losing my faith in you Mercedes Benz. Walked down to a Claro store for cellular refill, checked the internet for clues, not much help there. Noticed how useless the forums are actually? Called Hans at the campground and 15-20 minutes later he showed up with a mechanic. Unfortunately he had even less clues than I did. Poking around with a 12V bulb and wire tool was not much help on a complex MB van. After few hours there was not much else to do but call a towing truck. Hans placed some calls and after some time the first flatbed showed up. It was too short. Traffic police came up with some numbers, more calls placed. Second truck showed up, too short. No problem they said, we have a larger one. In the meanwhile I had to keep the parking space in the front of the van clear from cars so the towing truck can back-in. Here I am explaining to people over and over again in Spanglish why they cannot park there. It’s Friday and getting late. Finally the third truck shows up, backs in, they hook up the van and slowly drag it up on the platform. The van is completely immobilized, the tires are blocked, the wheel cannot be turned, it’s a completely dead weight. They sprayed the ramp with oil so the tires can slip. The second truck is pulling the front of the van sideways so it’s not slipping off the ramp. We have a gong show going on, people would stop by to watch. It was dark by the time the van was on the top of the towing truck. The ride to the campground was only 5-6 km but very exciting. I was taking air once or twice per minute feeling my hair turning grey slowly, while sitting in the van on the top of the flatbed truck. We survived this ride too, the van was slip off the truck slowly to a camping spot and I counted up the $120.00 to the towing crew. The easy part is over, the hard part begins, fixing up the van, again. This time we are not camping in the front of a licensed Mercedes shop, but outside Ibarra, the future is uncertain. We have 30 days left to leave Ecuador, our temporary car importation expires and the fines are steep around here, it sounds that we may have a lot of time but not really.
So here is the situation for now. I insert the key in the ignition, but that familiar ‘swoosh’ sound recognizing the key is not there. The key cannot be turned. There is a clicking sound coming from the wheel column lock mechanism. It’s like the solenoid in the little electrical motor in the wheel lock not engaging to unlock the wheel. The keys are working good for locking-unlocking the van, these are the original MB keys. This is a 2007 Sprinter, 3 L, V6 TD engine, 2500 model. Anybody reading this blog having an idea please send me a message from the contact page, your input could be very helpful.