Apparently when you push your RV through the mountains pulling a Jetta things can go wrong.  If you want to continue on your trip, you will need to have an alternator belt that isn’t in shreds.  Well, we learned this the hard way.  We about 45 minutes out of Denver and trying to make it to Wheat Ridge to get to our campsite and take a break for the night.  It had been a stressful day of driving and not really knowing the limitations of the the RV and how to successfully pull up these steep mountains.

We were on the home stretch, or so we thought.  I was driving and I could just tell something wasn’t right.  Wanda (the name of the RV) didn’t seem to be driving the same.  You know when you get that feeling that something isn’t right?  Trust it, it’s usually correct.  All of a sudden it sounded like millions of shards of gravel were in our motor smashing on our dog house.  Oh, sh*t!  What now?!?!?!?

As I looked at Jason, with what I imagine were huge eyes of “Oh my god, what now” he told me it just sounded like gravel.  I knew that wasn’t the case.  We were on the highway, nowhere near gravel, at least not enough to make that noise.  Shortly after that there was a squeal.  A squeal so unbearable I was left to “attempt” to drive up the mountain at 15mph.  Anything over that the horrifying, deafening squeal would emerge and I just couldn’t take it.  Something wasn’t right and pushing it any further may have caused more damage than was already done.  So, I did what any person would do, no matter how much I didn’t want to.  I pulled over.  In a complete panic we called the people who had just sold it to us and asked what the hell was going on.  They guessed that it was the serpentine belt and advised to not drive any further.

alternator belt shreds
cats unamused in car
cat in car

So, after much internal turmoil I decided it was time to call my insurance company for a tow.  Surprisingly enough the process was rather simple, except the fact that I had no idea where to describe we were other than on the side of the road going up a mountain heading towards Wheat Ridge.  Naturally that wasn’t very helpful to them but we were able to get our location pin pointed.

While waiting we saw several people pull over, rest and let their vehicles cool down.  It was then that we realized that we weren’t the only ones who had to pull over.  Granted, theirs wasn’t because they were broken down.  However, theirs was because they were smart enough to know that their vehicle needed the break.

Two hours later our tow showed up.  HAHAHAHA!  He showed up with a regular tow truck that was clearly not going to pull Wanda and the dolly anywhere.  So, he turned around and said he would be back with something that would work.

So, as we wait, we continue to see vehicles pull over and take off again.  We also see a state patrol pull over.  After a couple minutes he walks towards us.  “Oh great, what are we doing wrong now?!?!?!”  Naturally we think we are doing something wrong since we are beyond unclear what we are even doing anymore.  The gentleman comes up to us and simply asks us what is going on.  After we explain the situation he lets us know that this kind of thing happens here all the time.  Surprisingly enough, that is actually reassuring.  Naturally we feel bad for those other suckers too, but we don’t feel like we need to hang our head in embarrassment….at least not as much.

An hour goes by and still no tow.  We call the guy and it sounds like he is sitting in an office instead of in a truck on his way to us.  Are you kidding me?!!?  It’s been 3 hours on the side of the highway now and we are beyond annoyed.  He goes on to tell us he is just trying to find someone who can fix Wanda yet today.  That makes no difference to us now that it has been 3 hours.  Most places are already closing and we are sitting on the side of the interstate.  Had he showed up when he was supposed to with the correct tow (mind you I sent him a picture of Wanda & the dolly so he could see what he needed to haul) we wouldn’t have to worry about finding last minute people to fix her because places would have still been open.

So, we took matters in to our own hands and started calling people and part stores.  I kid you not, Autozone had the part we needed and even a suggestion.  They have a mechanic that sits around the parking lot and helps people who come out with vehicle issues and don’t know what to do.  You have got to be kidding me right?!?!?!  Talk about the wrong place at the right time.  So, the tow finally arrives and we instruct him where to tow us (the Autozone) and he says, “No way.  You can’t fit in there”.  Well, yes we can and this is where we needed to be towed.  So, reluctantly he tells us he will tow us there.

The next issue is he asks us to back Wanda up down the mountain to the little landing about 200 yards back.  HAHAHAHA!  We explain that isn’t happening as we are not good at backing her up without a dolly on it.  So, a solution is eventually had and Jason and the tow guy detach the dolly, walk her down the mountain and then the tow guy get’s in to Wanda and backs her up down the mountain in to oncoming traffic.  Wow!  Talk about nerve racking.  But, he got it done and then they hooked the dolly back up and then attached Wanda to the tow and we begin to take off to Autozone.

I’ll admit, the fit was a little tight in the parking lot but it was doable.  So, we were greeted by the guy who just works in the parking lot and he tells us it is our alternator belt.  So, we go in to Autozone and get what we think is the alternator belt for Wanda.  I kid you not, 7 belts later we finally have the right belt.  You wouldn’t think it would be that hard but the reps at Autozone were wonderful.  They didn’t make us keep doing exchanges, they simply kept giving us belts and agreed that we would settle up once we have the correct belt.

Seven belts and 1.5 hours later Wanda seems to be running without any horrible sounds and we are beyond relieved.  We settle up with the gentleman and Autozone and go on our way.  At this point we are terrified so I drive the Jetta while Jason drives Wanda and Parton to our campsite.  We did not want any other problems and did not want to take any unnecessary chances.

Yep, 5 minutes later, in the dead of summer, the AC belt snapped.  No AC for Jason but the good news is you can drive an RV without the AC belt.  Is it comfortable?  Hell no, but it’s doable.  At this point we have no AC, can not use our toilet because our black tank is full and broke and we haven’t even made it through Colorado.  This was going to be a long trip.

fixing alternator belt
fixing alternator belt through doghouse