The plan was to leave Hot Springs (Arkansas) on Saturday, overnight at a WalMart just west of Nashville, and arrive at Deer Run in Crossville, Tennessee on Easter Sunday. That would put us in place a full 6 days before the East Coast HDT Rally was to start. Plenty of time to acclimate to the area, figure out where to best exercise the dog, and decide which dishes I could contribute to the potluck meals.

Best laid plans, eh? Nope.

We’ve had problems with the emissions system since we first picked up the truck last fall. We probably should have taken it in for a full workup while we were stationary in San Antonio or Austin. But, we didn’t. Oopsie.

We got on the road just fine, but quickly had to rejigger our plans because the truck was throwing a code that essentially meant it was going to shut down in 5….4….3….2…. you get the idea.

I’m going to insert the description that Shawn posted on the ever-helpful HDT page of the Escapees forum:

Three hours from our destination, I got the dreaded Check Engine light and a message of “SCR Performance Low, Engine in Derate, 5 MPH limit in < 150 Min”.

I stopped and checked the 3 active codes. The first two I had seen before, but the last one was new and is related to the engine being in derate from what I understand.

Andrea’s side note: derate means that the engine will not go over 5 MPH. Not in a position we want to be in on the interstate — or any road!

I had these codes once before, but the issue cleared itself up, which is not uncommon from what I understand.  I wasn’t that lucky this time.

Well, we stopped for the night at that point as I was torn on whether or not to continue on toward Nashville or backtrack to Memphis since it was closer — and there just happened to be a campground right across the road. 

Our overnight campsite at the Joy-O Campground. Nice and quiet under the pines. We didn’t bother with anything but the electrical hookup.

The next morning, we decided to roll the dice and keep heading East and try to make it to a campground near Nacarato Volvo, 166 miles away on the south side of Nashville.

About 60 miles out, the computer dropped the warning to <15 Minutes before 5 MPH derate. I wasn’t willing to push my luck so stopped at a nearby TA truck stop. 15 minutes later it did indeed go into full derate. 

Earlier in the day while we were sitting at breakfast, I was doing some Google searches on the codes and the issue we were having and I found a YouTube video from a trucker who conveniently pointed out where the speed sensor on the IShift transmission was.

Five minutes later after yanking the connector loose and putting the IShift into Manual mode, we were on our way! The engine was still in derate mode and on some of those uphill runs I dropped to 45 MPH in 10th gear, but it got us to a decent campground just a few miles from the dealership.

That was kind of a white-knuckle drive. The speed limit was 70 on I-40, so every time Shawn & the Volvo dropped below 55 mph, I’d turn on my hazard lights (I was driving behind in the Juke, as usual) and hope people were paying attention. A few trucks got hot & heavy with my rear bumper, but no harm done.

As it was Easter Sunday, we were lucky to find a campground that was near the Volvo dealership and had availability. Frankly, we were lucky to find one that answered the phone! We pulled in, got settled, and dropped the Volvo off at the dealership on Monday morning.

The last loop at the Nashville I-24 Campground – the “daily” section. Within an hour, RVs were packed in around us! This happened every day. 

Monday, they didn’t work on the truck. Grrr. (Supposedly a Volvo Certified Uptime Center is supposed to do a triage on the truck within 2 hours. That didn’t happen.)

Tuesday, a tech did some basic diagnostics by hooking up the truck to the computer and validating the codes and also found that a temperature sensor on the after-treatment system was not screwed into the hole that it should have been. Weird….

He re-installed the sensor and it seemed to be functioning OK. That was the extent of what this tech could do. We were now waiting for the “Advanced” tech and we hoped that by mid-day Wednesday, we would have a clearer picture of the issue.

By 2 p.m. Wednesday we hadn’t heard anything more, so we drove the car up to the dealership. When we got there it still had not been seen by the advanced tech and Shawn was really starting to lose his patience. After a conversation with the service manager, they were pulling our truck into a service bay as we left.

Thursday morning, Shawn went to the dealership and planned on camping out in their service area until the truck was done. By the time he got there, they had a plan of what needed to be done and an estimate. About three hours and just under $3000 later, the computer system was happy again.

The whole issue appears to have been centered around two VERY expensive emissions sensors ($500+ each). You better believe that if we have problems with this system again, we’ll be having very strong words with the management.

Staff at the Nashville I-24 Campground refunded our prepaid stay for the night, and by 4 p.m. we were on the road to Crossville. We arrived safely at Deer Run on Thursday evening and are looking forward to a terrific week of fellowship and education among the HDT community.

This is such a great group of generous folks; we had multiple offers of “do we need to come hitch up your trailer and bring it to the rally?” and probably would have had more had we not gotten on the road when we did.

I’m sure we can expect more detours. The detour and delay really weren’t a big deal as we had nothing specific planned for the week, but the financial hit is a real bummer. Getting an extended warranty just moved to the top of the project list!

Shawn is actually taking next week off of work so that we can learn, socialize, and get a few projects done on the truck and trailer. Yay!