Last winter this 1996 van struck a lost spare tire left
in the middle of highway 35 near Rose Valley and required almost two months
to have its transmission rebuilt and other work done to make it road worth. This
is a low mileage van with less than one hundred thousand kilometres on its oddometer
but it is now almost ten years old and things are catching up on it.
One morning in early December its battery simply died. Batteries are like that they can sometimes
linger a bit but this one just quit. The sudden departure of the battery was caused
to a certain extent by the computer system Ford put in this kind of vehicle.
When the battery is unable to produce enough energy the makes a "go,
no-go" decision and in this case it was
In the summer of 2003 we were travelling through rural Wisconsin on a hot
July day and this van made another summary decision and that was that the temperature
was to hot for the in-tank fuel pump to continue working and it shut down leaving
us to spend time talking farmer Paul MacCarthy until the pump had cooled down
enough for us to continue our journey.
On the Sunday after New Years Day I went out into the Zellers parking
lot in Regina and once again the vehicle had made a decision on its own to not start.
The new battery and working starter whirled over the engine but there was no ignition.
After a few tries it came to life and I thought it was just a temporamental computer
Then on Tuesday this same lack of success occurred at the Tisdale Mall and
once again after a few tries it responded and I went up to Randall Automotive
to discuss the Mad Cow disease and other issues of the world. When it was
time to go the van had decided that this was the perfect place to end its fiddling
around and starting would no longer be part of its operation programme. A few simple
tests and Arthur listening by the fuel filler hole resolved the issue the
fuel pump had pumped its last fuel.
The following moring a new one was installed requiring the removal of the gas tank
and the new pump and filter reinstalled to make it a working van once more.
Awe but the electrical system on this van was not through with me yet. About three weeks ago
it had discovered that it could really annoy me by not signalling right. Though the
lights were fine the signal switch would no longer accomplish a right turn. Now Ford
designed this system as a single unit, the signal stock with wiper system and
turn signal assembly is all one expensive piece and on Thursday morning it too was
The fuel pump is a little over $200 and the signal stock and system about $114. As
with most repairs you have to consider the cost of labour to be about the same as
the cost of parts so it has been an expensive week.
One wonders if some "Steven King" like conspiracy between computer systems is in effect with
this van and right now as I sit here at my computer typing out this story, outside
in the miserable cold of a Tisdale Arctic night the sly, coniving curcuits of the
Motorola based computer system is plotting byte by byte its next move to confound
its hapless owner. Alternator, starter, fuel injection, ABS, airbags, air
conditioning, radio, heater system, ignition, instrument panel, all these wonderous
components either work or don't work, each linked to each other through processors
and sensors the prospects for failure are so overwhelming that one should be more
surprised when they all function. The concerted work of these systems is in itself
a quest of sorts, a trial of mind, artifical or otherwise and the twisted logic of
the binary code.
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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
Faster Than Light Communication
Box 1776, Tisdale, Saskatchewan, Canada, S0E 1T0
306 873 2004