Home Forums Truck Camper Adventure Forum Breakdowns and towing?

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    • #35455

      Hi all,

      I have a 2018 Cirrus 920 on a F350. Had it about a year now and love it, but a couple of close calls on the mechanical side are making me question what my options would be in case of a breakdown.

      For instance, this winter, I had my diesel gel. This started happening on a windy snow covered road. Luckily I limped it along to a gas station, but there, I had to unload the camper to get the truck towed.

      I’m just curious to get some more experienced folks thoughts on how to handle a breakdown. The point of a truck camper is to get to those remote spots, but if you then have trouble, what are your options? Can two trucks pull you out with the camper still on the bed?

      Just looking for some thoughts.


    • #35541


      This is a hard question to answer because if you go where no one can go and you break down, you are going to have tor rely on the kindness of strangers. I am sure you know that. As to whether a tow truck can pull a truck with a camper, sure they can. They routinely tow trucks with fifth wheels that dwarf our truck campers.

      In the end, it is always about how much you are willing to risk. If someone wants to be truly safe, they can never leave home and they best hope they don’t fall down the stairs. For all the rest of us, it’s usually somewhere in the middle. 🙂

      Steve and Andra
      2012 F350 6.2 gasser SRW LB
      Fab Fours front and rear in case we run into a rhino
      2019 Northstar Laredo SC

    • #35594

      I have lived in Alaska for 40 years. I own a trucking company that hauls gravel in the summer. We shut down the end of October. Then I drive my diesel pickup down the Alcan to AZ for the winter and head back home in March. I use P&S Products to keep my trucks/pickup going with this low sulfur crap and to reduce jelling of my fuel tanks.

      Diesel 911

      I have towing with my insurance company, but I am sure they will tell me to kiss off if I break down in the middle of nowhere Yukon???? The best advice is to be able to take care of yourself as much as possible.

      2016 3500 HD Durmax

      1994 S and S 9.5' Camper (SOLD)
      1999 S and S 9.5 Camper

    • #35627

      Chris, it’s always a crap shoot, but clearly, it’s best to have self recovery equipment along, especially when you get far from civilization, and not have to depend as much on others to get you out. It’s also good to know something about the way your rig works. Being a recovering rock crawler, I HAD to know a lot about my Jeep just to make it to the end of the trail.
      Case in point is what transpired the last few days. We have had virtually no trouble with our 2001.5 Dodge 2500 HO Cummins 6 speed manual. Therein lies the problem. Jeanie and I were on our way to the Black Hills and environs in our Dodge with a new Northstar Laredo SC camper on the back when up jumped the devil and the engine went into a coughing, surging pattern and the check engine light came on. We stopped and I plugged in my code reader and found we popped code PO 102. The code was for the diesel equivalent of a TPS. We were 6 miles from a RAM truck dealer; called them and they said, “bring it on in”. $!!00 and one hotel room later later we had a new part and an oil change. A couple hours down the road the Cummins went into what’s called, “dead pedal” where the engine drops down to idle with no throttle response. So I pushed in the clutch and rolled onto the shoulder. I tried starting again, and it would start but the pedal would not bring it up off idle. We called around and got Auto club to send a truck out (the wrong one, as it was a flat bed, which i told the AC operator we could not use it as it made our TC on the flat bed about 6 inches taller than the overpass clearance on the interstate. Yes, we measured it. We were ready to have the rig towed 100 miles, when I started it again and had pedal. The ECM had healed itself. Meanwhile, Jeanie found a RAM dealer 25 miles down the road and we called off the tow company. The new dealer put some dielectric grease on the small plug on the new part and we drove another 900 miles to get to this mountain rest stop from which I’m typing this. I’m convinced there is a short in the cruise control circuit which is ganged with the TPS where two low voltage wires must have the same value else go into dead pedal. Never having any woes with the rig, i had no knowledge about what to do. That was not a good feel.

      2020 Ford F-350 XLT FX4 4WD SRW SB SC 7.3L Godzilla Gas TorqShift 10R140 397 amps dual Alt dual batts Frnt Dana 60; Rr Dana M275 E-locker 4.30's 4580/4320/4066# payload 7243# curb wt. 11,300# GVWR 5-er prepped. 2020 Northstar Laredo SC, 12v compressor fridge, cassette, 320w Solar sub zero insulation.

    • #35637

      That’s always the way it is, truck stops out of the blue. All maintenance up to date and then – So far we have not had our truck camper on, but did have our fiver onboard and it is always a sinking feeling coasting over to the side of the road and trying to come up with a way to get towed and where to get towed.

      How long it takes to get a tow varies depending on where it happens and one thing I discovered was most of the big tow plans use the same call center and the same tow services.
      Getting our diesel towed was the toughest because we found out diesels techs are in shorter supply at dealership and one large dealer we intended to use advised us they only had one diesel technician and it would be at least two weeks before they could get to us. Huh !!!!

      In the end, all I have learned is I don’t care what you do to maintain your equipment, if you breakdown on the road, it is a crap shoot trying to get fixed and going again where more than one person we knew personally waited more than eight hours to find a tow. I think it is just part of traveling and the further away we travel from population centers the more a challenge breakdowns become.

      The point about knowing your height is a good one not just for flatbedding, but also for travel in general. As we discovered no long ago at all, our GPS does not take tunnel or overpass height into consideration which led to a substantial turn-around-and-go-back when we were confronted with an overpass which was lower than we were tall. 🙂


      Steve and Andra
      2012 F350 6.2 gasser SRW LB
      Fab Fours front and rear in case we run into a rhino
      2019 Northstar Laredo SC

    • #37504

      Adventure! That is what happens when things go wrong.

      I had a chevy van and had it inspected before a road trip. Somewhere in east Ohio a rear wheel fell off. Felt like I had picked up some gravel in a tire and suddenly … adventure! I figure inspection station forgot to torque the lug nuts.

      I got tired of working on my 6.4L Ford and swore off emission diesels forever. I loved driving the diesel but hated owning it. My 100k mile service cost me close to $1800 and I do all the work. Radiator was $900 of that but it never leaked again. I carried EGT sensors, tools, diesel additive, … and worried that I forgot to carry something I’d need. And there wasn’t much I could fix on the side of the road. Typically, first step was to remove the cab from truck. So, now I drive a 5L gas wonder but really should have bought a 6.2 1 ton. Now the good that comes from this is that there is now the 7.3 godzilla that would be absolutely awesome.

      Back to the original question. I don’t think I’ve ever called for a tow. I somehow manage to get it going. Like the van. I jacked up the vehicle. Put the wheel back on and fastened it by borrowing lug nuts from the other wheels. Repaired it the next day in the Chevy dealership parking lot. Just don’t give up. Even something like having an ODBII reader can help you out. I carry a Blue Driver. Even if you don’t have problems you can use it to monitor vehicle health.

      If your going to call for help, make sure you have phone service. This might mean carrying a SPOT like device for times when you haven’t any service.

      Just remember … its adventure. Well maybe not so much when you live in Alaska but I live in Texas and just worry about sun burn. -d

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