By on March 4, 2011


I’ve become quite familiar with the burning-coolant/oil/misery-combo smell of a blown head gasket/cracked head, what with the scent being such a frequent olfactory treat at LeMons races, and so I knew what was happening on I-25 in downtown Denver once I got within nose distance of this scene.

Safety first! Got the auxiliary brake lights, everything’s hooked up safely, the works… well, except for the small problem that the tow vehicle’s engine is undergoing catastrophic failure. The driver seemed unconcerned (in spite of the frantic gestures from other drivers, the pegged-out temperature gauge, and the terrible noises from under the hood) and kept the pedal to the metal. I didn’t stick around for the final act of this cruel drama— the one that ends with the truck sitting in a puddle of oil and steam (and possibly on fire) in the fast lane during rush hour— but I’m sure it involved a great deal of angst all around.

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34 Comments on “Adventures In Flat Towing: Except For The Bad Engine, All Systems Go!...”


  • avatar

    This guy is definitely LeMons material.  I’m sure there are teams clamoring for his driving expertise, if his check clears!

  • avatar
    Jedchev

    Who knows? Maybe he was towing his own replacement engine in that pickup

  • avatar
    carve

    Fantastic idea.  “Hey- lets tow your enormous truck on the freeway with 4′ of rope”.  That guy in the back truck had to be standing on the brakes the whole time. 

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I actually see this quite a bit living in one of the poorest counties in New Mexico.  POS pulling slightly worse POS to wherever they’re going to die.  I sometimes wonder if Lang could help these poor souls more than the sharks we have around here that call themselves “dealers.”  I hadn’t seen exploitation of the poor on this level until I moved to New Mexico, and I lived IN Detroit for crying out loud.

    • 0 avatar

      Of course Lang could help them. I can see him now, speeding to the rescue, all the way from Atlantic in his supersonic flying Dodge Caliber!

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      I meant if he was a dealer out here, jeeze. But still pretty funny smarta$$. (BTW anyone who is confused should search this site for some of Lang’s posts about how he handles those with the worst credit.)

  • avatar
    Verbal

    Accelerated depreciation.  It ain’t pretty.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    Probably a V6 F150.

  • avatar
    cfclark

    So…what’s the plan for towing these two vehicles once this tow vehicle’s engine disintegrates? Anyone for a three-fer?

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    With one picture you have perfectly captured the justification for having Emergency Towing on your car insurance – X2!!!!

    If I was there and I had some extra time, I would have pushed the “recirc” button on the HVAC controls and followed behind at a safe distance, just to see how long it could continue (maybe this comes out of my fascination with demo derbies, hmm).

    I also have to wonder if the towed truck was a 4×4 and what kind of mechanical drag it was presenting to the tow rig.

    • 0 avatar
      Facebook User

      My thoughts exactly…how often do you get to see an engine fail in real time right in front of you?
      On the mechanical drag issue I can easily push my Jeep on a flat surface no matter what 4wd is doing so long as it is in neutral. Slightly more drag I am sure but nothing crazy.

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    After living in Pennsylvania where even a quarter sized spot of rust could cause an inspection failure I was shocked at the total lack of standards Colorado seemed to have in the mid 90s other than emissions.  Pickups with 2x4s for bumpers flat towing one another at highway speeds (or anywhere around Denver, for that matter) just didn’t seem like a good idea.  But then life is cheap out west, sadly it’s the same for anyone hit by these rusting wrecks.

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      California only seems to care about emissions unless you have an old enough vehicle… then you can pollute as much as you want.  These inspection doesn’t include checking for working brakes or lights, but if you have a non-stock air intake or muffler you are doomed even if the tailpipe sniffer is happy.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Environmentalists hate people and want them to die. That is why states have either emissions inspections that are irrationally rigid or safety inspections but never both.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      I guess if people actually think (if you call that thought) like that I guess Newt Gingrich will sail into the White House.
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @golden2husky:
       
      Speaking as as a conservative, I don’t think Newt has a snowball’s chance at the Presidency.

    • 0 avatar
      87CE 95PV Type Я

      Well PA is friendlier to vehicles than NY and I am glad NY is lax since most of my families vehicles have become rather rusty.  I remember dad’s 93 Legacy was 85% Steel, 10% rust repair/bondo/paint/ dirt, and 5% air.  I am glad our vehicles usually do not flunk from rust since that would be rather costly for us.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    In the words of David Hobbs: “Kablammo!”

  • avatar

    The same guy will probably go online and complain how his truck a POS and destroyed its motor with no warning.

  • avatar

    I was messing around with a few BMWs in my 98 sn95 gt and on the third stretch realized something was wrong. Cracked the plenum intake manifold right at the thermostat. Guess you shouldn’t do more than your car can handle :P

  • avatar
    obbop

    Will unintended deceleration lead to a lawsuit?

  • avatar
    Facebook User

    Looks like he was passing 6th heading south…late afternoon?? I made this drive today, had I passed by this guy I surly would have stuck around for the engines last powered stroke.

  • avatar
    EyeMWing

    At least it’s a half-ton pulling another half-ton. A few days ago I passed a Nissan Frontier flat towing an F-350.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    One POS pulling another.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    This reminds me of the time I saw a very large diesel engined motor home drag a subcompact that was in ‘park’ for about a half a mile. We were on a narrow country road so we passed them and then tried to flag them down (twice) before the motor home driver stopped.  It was worth the extra effort just to see the look on his face when he saw the two streaks of rubber and the smoke coming from what was left of his flat-spotted radials.

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      Some motorhome guy like that caused a bunch of forest fires a few years ago – I think in Idaho – because his towed car was on fire and he just kept on keepin’ on.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    Also, yesterday I drove behind a 1980’s (or so) Toyota that was burning oil pretty bad – lots of blue smoke and a really bad stench every time he let off the gas. It reminded me how seldom I see that anymore.

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    This scene is vaguely reminiscent of the scene from Jaws where Quint kept pushing his ailing boat at full throttle while dragging the shark in closer to land. Hopefully this didn’t end as badly for those guys as it did for Quint. 

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    I was thinking of adding a class ii hitch, some frame distributed bits and possibly fabbing up some custom anti-sway damping rods to the Roadmaster wagon for a pending vehicle purchase and delivery to a friend in another state – but seeing that has me seriously considering just calling a delivery service after we iron out all the bugs and have them present the new ride remotely. Got the factory air leveling system but no lsd in the rear carrier, which might make the climb to the Eisenhower tunnel and the pass beyond – interesting.


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