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March 22nd, 2020

Tales From The Plague…(continued)

My car is a diesel, a Very Nice three litre V-6 bi-turbo Mercedes-Benz diesel sedan. I bought it for their legendary longevity and fuel economy, which is nice for road tripping. But diesels don’t like being parked and not running for very long. Last time I let that happen when I did take it out it threw a check engine light and went into a kind of limp mode, that I was able to trace to a possibly stuck exhaust gas recirculation valve. After driving it a while the problem went away and hasn’t returned. Since I live within walking distance of work, and to most everything I need on a day to day basis, not letting the car sit for extended periods is something I have to manage. Usually that’s a nice weekend day long pleasure drive in the countryside. Now that we all need to stay indoors as much as possible due to COVID-19 that’s not really do-able.

The car has been sitting since last Tuesday afternoon when I took my house sitter to the train station for his return home. So today I figured I’d take it for just a short drive up I-83 to Shawan Road and back while we’re still allowed to leave the house. The idea was simply to at least get the engine up to temperature, and give it enough of a drive that if the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) needed a cleaning cycle it could get a full one. I can always tell when it’s been doing that right when I turn it off because it smells like something’s burning. Which…it is. But it’s supposed to be.

My street is more full of parked cars this morning than last, which I guess is good. Out on the highway traffic was exceptionally light…nearly non-existent…which is also good. The big electronic traffic billboards were all telling us to Stay Home, and it seemed this morning that most people were.

I felt reasonably sure that I wasn’t causing any problems by taking the car out for a routine maintenance drive and back as I never left the car until I got back home. At some point we may be officially told not to leave our homes at all and then I don’t know what I’ll do about the car. You folks with all electric cars you can charge at home have it pretty good right now, though I suppose gasoline burners don’t suffer as much from just being parked for extended periods like diesels can.

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