Tow Vehicle Maintenance

Changed out the thermostats and flushed coolant on UPGRAYYED (our 2002 LB7) the weekend before last. While I was in there, I also swapped out the MPROP (fuel pressure sensor), which I suspected was either leaking or failed and was causing the idle lope with which we’ve been dealing for the last year.

That was the culprit: failed MPROP. With that replaced, her idle both in gear and neutral is now silky smooth. There’s also no smoke on the highway. I’m actually somewhat surprised that it’s possible for a diesel to be so smooth.

Then Monday happened.

Fast forward a week and a day to this morning: Just after I started the truck to head off to work, I lost brakes and steering.

Aside from a brief moment of surprise when the thing lurched into reverse, my thought was something along the lines of, “Odd… I was nowhere near that stuff last weekend.”


Why brakes and steering? The Duramax — and several other trucks — use a hydro-boost mechanism rather than a vacuum booster to actuate the brakes. The hydraulic power is supplied to the hydro-boost by the power steering pump.

If the pump fails: no brakes and no steering


For neither brakes nor steering:

  • insufficient power steering fluid
  • loose serpentine or belt failure
  • power steering pump failure
  • clogged high-pressure from pump
  • failed hydro-boost
  • engine not running

Okay, I added that last one, but I’m sure it’s in somebody’s troubleshooting manual someplace.


  • Shut off the motor and check power steering has fluid. It’s full, although a bit dark: Good.
  • Check the serpentine, which, too, looks fine; snug: Good.
  • Start it back up and observe that it’s turning the steering pump’s pulley: Good.
  • With the engine running, remove the cap from the power steering reservoir to observe fluid movement: No sloshing. No movement. Not good.


At a minimum, that’s a failed pump. Could it be something else? Sure, but without any pressure coming out of the pump, there’s no way to know whether the hydro boost is okay or not.

We’re now $170 poorer and at least a few days awaiting delivery of the new unit.

Fortunately, it’s a reasonably straightforward driveway task for a home mechanic.

RV Video-Walkthrough Drinking Game

If you happen to find yourself watching video walkthroughs of assorted RVs, perhaps this will kick up the entertainment factor a bit. Select a suitable beverage, start up a walkthrough video, and immediately prepare yourself to take a swig every time somebody:

  • pounds their fist on any part of the RV
  • makes any sexist remarks — for example, “mom will love this kitchen.”
  • refers to a water heater as a “hot water heater”
  • makes any reference to watching “the game”

Oh, there are more, but we’ll just start with those.

Narrowing the Choices

We’ve been rather undecided about either a fifth wheel or a travel trailer for several months.

Long-term full-timers tend to swear by a FW. “You’ll want one later!”

Maybe. Maybe not. For now, we’re going the TT route. Our primary reasoning is that we wish to maintain some mobile, weather-resistant cargo space in the truck without removing a hitch. Secondarily, it’s a coach-size issue: I’d rather not push UPGRAYEDD to its manufacturer’s towing limits.

Our short list is now narrowed to four (but really just two) travel trailers:

  1. Open Range, Mesa Ridge 310BHS or Roamer 310BHS
  2. Forest River, Salem Hemisphere 300BH or Heritage Glen 300BH

Besides, we’re looking for the next RV, not the only RV. If we were looking at the only one that we’d ever own then it would imply that money were no object — in which case my preference would be for one that doesn’t have wheels, but instead a 60 to 65-foot long, ocean-going hull.