Friday, April 27, 2012

We're Back in the Saddle Again

But really, the title should be "We're Back in Suzuki Again!"

Jim at the Wright Stop in Safford has worked what might be an auto repair miracle! He had the car for eight days, put over 20 hours of labor into it, including tearing out and replacing the entire dashboard area twice, and had to send to New York for a component. Even without seeing the sticker, we were getting sticker shock as he checked in with us on the phone a few times.

The history of this affair, for those who may have just joined us: the Suzuki XL-7 has been our toad for  eight years, faithfully following us around the country including a 42-day trip through Alaska.
This is how we like to travel!
She's a 4WD vehicle and needs her transfer case shifted into neutral for towing. Tuesday last week as we disconnected at Roper Lake State Park, I could not get the transfer case out of neutral, but I did get some fine grinding noises as I tried.

There is only one Suzuki dealer in Arizona, and that's in Phoenix, 166 miles away by the back roads. Can you imagine the two of us riding in the cab of a tow truck to Phoenix? Neither can we.

We called our tow service; they located a couple of places in Safford: one, a Suzuki motorcycle place, the other an AAA recommended shop who declared they would not work on a Suzuki, but recommended the Wright Stop. Jim Wright said bring it in, I'll see what I can do but I won't guarantee I can fix it. (Later on he told me he had called all the other shops in the Safford area to try to get some suggestions, and he was told he was out of his mind. Seems no one will touch a Suzuki except to do an oil change!)

Jim's first guess was that we had an electronic problem, not a mechanical one. He got into it and found that a switch was putting out low voltage, and that was the primary problem.
Arriving at Wright Stop - NOT how we like to travel!
To shorten a long tale, Jim had to replace an electronic switch under the dash, went on-line to learn that there were only three of them anywhere in the country, had the one in New York shipped two-day express ($350 for the switch, $60 for the shipping). Put in the switch, everything worked perfectly! He put the car back together, called us this past Tuesday, elated. We asked him to do the regular auto service, and we'd come in the next day to pick it up. He called Wednesday morning: the transfer case was once again stuck in neutral. Absolutely apologetic, he said he could set the car up as a two-wheel drive car, but that since he had failed us, he'd only charge us 6 hours of labor; he'd "eat" the other 14 hours. We should come Thursday to pick it up.

That set us into a tailspin, knowing that we don't have the money to buy a new car, and we'd not be able to tow the Suzuki anywhere.

That afternoon, Jim called back. After he'd taken the car apart again, he had looked on-line one more time and found out that he had to push the "Neutral" button on the dashboard instead of the 4WD button to get it back into a driving state! Everything was fine. Oh, he said our brakes were about gone, so we OK'd fixing that also.

Yesterday we drove the rented Chevy back to Safford (we're in Clifton this week, 40 miles away) and picked up the Suzuki. Total cost of everything: $1,100 to Wright Stop (he still ate the 14 hours of labor himself); $306 for the rental car for 8 days. Considering that we had been imagining three or four thousand, we did a happy dance!

In the meantime we had to leave Suzy's Big Red scooter behind, stored at Roper Lake. But we managed a drive up Mount Graham, the tallest mountain in SE Arizona, in the rental car;
View from Mount Graham
9000 feet is pretty high in these parts
we got to Besh-Ba-Gowah over in Globe;
The main house at Besh-Ba-Gowah
We really like this shot!
we made it to two more restaurants along the Salsa Trail;
PJ's in Clifton
El Charro in Safford
and landed in North Clifton RV Park where we have seen bighorn sheep and javelinas.
Bighorn -- the javelinas were down by the San Francisco River

Now we're happy again as we can continue ... Our Life on Wheels.


  1. Jerry & Suzy,

    OK, now it is time for your blood pressure to get back to normal. You guys made the most out of a bad situation and didn't let it spoil your trip. Great going. We are glad to see you have your wheels back. It sounds like cost wasn't as bad as it could have been.

    We are planning on leaving on Saturday morning for Las Cruces, NM for a few days. We will be making the trip back East in stages and not rushing to get to the next stop. Those days are behind us.

    Take care and be safe out there.

  2. So glad that everything worked out well! Jim from the Wright Shop sounds like a really good honest mechanic. Hopefully we can all give him a little business as we pass thru town in the future to recognize his good deeds!

  3. HMMMM..... Is that just a sliver of the old Suzy I see proudly standing with her cane??? Glad you got the fix for the right price..We paid $329 and got nothing but "everything looks OK to us"...whatever...Be safe and I love your view!!

  4. Suzy's looking good there:)) Been eyeing that Mt Graham from the far end of the Sulphur Springs Valley for about 4 years now & yours is the first photo I have seen from atop it. I remember seeing the reflection of the big telescope up there from the Ranch in late afternoons. Good news about the SuzySuki. Might be time to trade her in. I'm talking about the Suki, not the Suzi:))

  5. Ya, I know...........miss-spelled the Suz part with an i instead of a y. My my but I do try.....Bye Guy:))

  6. It's so nice when you find someone who is willing to try & keeps trying 'til he gets the job done. Jim Wright is my kind of guy! Great pics and Suzy looks GREAT too!

  7. I'm glad to here you are back to your favorite method of travel. I am enjoying your adventures.

  8. I'm thrilled you have your faithful Suzuki back. Your mechanic deserves a great big hug!

  9. What a great experience w/ the mechanic, you dont find a lot of them like that, to eat 14 hours of Apparently he is really computer savvy so he probably has a website for his biz...great place to put comments about how great he treated you.

    Donna W
    p.s.---love the pics

  10. Glad to hear you're back in business again. I agree about that interior shot; I really like it.

  11. The photo of Graham looks like a postcard. How beautiful it is.
    And speaking of beautiful...look at you Suzy...awesome!
    We have yet to see a javelina in the wild!

  12. So glad everything is fixed and you're good to go again.

    Suzy, you look wonderful! You must be feeling like a million bucks. :)

  13. Glad you got your Suzuki in working order again. Suzy's looking great! We're enjoying your adventures.

  14. Whew! Glad to hear you are back in the saddle!

  15. Glad you're back on the road ~ happy trails!!!

  16. Glad you are all fixed up once again ~ Suzy is sure looking GREAT!!! What wonderful photos and I really loved the ruins!
    Have fun & Travel safe


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