Limp Mode by Ed

@ San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge

My first day car commuting with my new wee car. Breakfast, check, drink, check, Podcasts, check.

It is a small Honda Jazz Fit. I got a good price on it because it has a gear stick and a lot of Americans don’t like that. Plus its a cracking shade of yellow.

I have spent three years driving automatic but figured I would remember my years of Scottish gear stick driving.

On the approach to the Bay Bridge this morning while trying to shift down from sixth gear to second gear I managed to half stall the car. All seemed OK but it I managed to make it to go into some sort of weird panic mode where it hardly worked.

This involved all four warning lights being on, Engine Management, Low Tyre Pressure, Steering Wheel with Exclamation mark and Skidding Car. The car itself barely functioned and shook the whole time, regardless of what gear I was in. I also had to keep my foot half on the clutch to get some bite and as a result the car moved around 15mph tops.

My Dashboard
📷 Photograph: Ed Henderson
My Dashboard
📷 Photograph: Ed Henderson

If anyone is familiar with the Bay Bridge, it is indeed one of the busiest commuter places in all of America and I was in traffic that was around eighteen lanes wide. There was nowhere to stop AND I did not want to be the guy who broke down as lanes of traffic approached the Tolls.

Bay Bridge Toll Plaza (a lot less quieter than it was this morning)
📷 Photograph: Google Maps
Bay Bridge Toll Plaza (a lot less quieter than it was this morning)
📷 Photograph: Google Maps

(For my Scottish friends, imagine the Forth Road Bridge but five times as wide with twice as much traffic.)

I thought if I turned the engine off and on again that might work, but I also knew that might make the car stop dead and leave me abandoned surrounded by angry drivers.

I had power, the car was moving (just) so I decided to gamble with keep going.

Amazingly, I managed to get my helpful Father–in–law on Facebook chat and tried to explain the situation to him while driving across the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge at 15mph in a shaking car (in the fast lane). I had the hazard lights on too but I knew if I kept going I could get to the relative safety of San Francisco.

I took around twenty minutes of careful–clutch–heavy, head–down, ignore–the–haters, light–flashing driving and I eventually managed to make it to the safety of my office.

Johnny knew his stuff and explained what happened to me. The car had basically got confused and the computer had defaulted into Limp / Survival / Get Home mode. He suggested rebooting the car and it seemed to reset things.

The warning lights are still on but the engine works again and Johnny seems to think they will sort themselves out in a while once I drive again. Thank you Johnny.

A big SORRY to all those who were inconvenienced by my wee yellow car this morning.