'Boy did I feel dumb,' driver fumes after car towed for 'stupid reason' after stopping in Costco car park

A JEEP expert followed a trail of horrible noises to a drastic conclusion after he took it off-roading - it turned out to be fine.

His call for a tow truck ended up being all for naught - but at least the Jeep is fixed.

A tenured mechanic had his Jeep towed after a horrendous noise led him to assume the worstCredit: GettyTracy's knowledge pertaining to Jeep is nearly unmatched, hence his embarrassmentCredit: GettyAs it turns out, he had his Jeep towed for no reasonCredit: Getty

David Tracy, founder and writer for The Autopian, is known for his expertise with Jeeps - old, new, stock, modified, and otherwise.

In a recent recounting of a recent mechanical mishap at his site, he heard horrible noises coming from underneath his 1991 Jeep Wrangler (YJ) after a long day of fairly intense off-roading in January.

"I took my 1991 Jeep Wrangler YJ off-roading with a friend, who brought along his lifted TJ," wrote Tracy.

"I was feeling fairly confident that day, so I took the Jeep up an absurdly steep grade that, from the bottom, looked impossible."

At one point, he became stuck in loose sand, ran out of ground clearance, and pushed the Jeep to conquer the terrain.

It took a few minutes, but he was finally home free - until he started hearing horrible noises coming from the undercarriage.

At first, he ignored it, figuring he'd be able to take a closer look when he pulled onto his Los Angeles, California driveway.

But the noise persisted, making Tracy think he had a much more serious problem that couldn't wait.

"Loud and in rapid succession, these clunks were alarming and impossible to ignore," Tracy wrote.

"I pulled over onto the shoulder and looked under the Jeep; I didn’t see anything obvious.

Inside Kyrie Irving's car collection, with NBA star cruising around Dallas in modded Jeep Wrangler and $500k Lamborghini

"I continued driving, cringing as whatever storm was brewing below my butt, thundered loudly into the cabin. I took the next exit, and came to a stop in a Costco parking lot."

From under the over-30-year-old Jeep, he noticed the u-joint was loose and banging on other parts as the vehicle was in motion.

However, he wasn't convinced it was the right part causing the disturbing sound, since he'd dealt with plenty of blown u-joints in the past.

After inspecting other parts and not seeing anything obvious, he determined the rear axle was toast, and since he lacked the tools to triple-check, he called in a tow truck and had the Jeep brought home.

You’d think someone who has owned over a dozen old Jeeps, who helped engineer the current-generation Jeep Wrangler, and who has spent the last 15 years rebuilding engines, transmissions, transfer cases, driveshafts, and just generally wrenching like crazy would be able to figure out the cause of a banging noise under an old YJ,

David Tracy

Five months later, Tracy was backing out of the driveway when he heard the noise again, and had his girlfriend come out and back the Jeep up while he was underneath it to find the sound.

That's when he saw what was causing the sound.

It wasn't a u-joint, or bent driveshaft, or a rear axle.

"I saw the driveshaft close against the driveshaft speed sensor, and when the “nub” on the driveshaft spun around, it rammed right into the sensor and made a loud “bang!” that reverberated through the Jeep’s frame," he wrote.

"I simply grabbed the bracket upon which the sensor is mounted and bent it back. The problem was now solved."

Tracy wrote he was glad to have the issue finally solved, though he couldn't help but question himself.

What to do if your car is towed

Wrongfully or not, retrieving a towed vehicle can be a hassle.

If your vehicle is towed after parking in a "No Parking" zone or other legitimate reason, there are a few steps to take to get it back.

Steps to take when your car is towed:

Try to figure out why your car was towed. Did you not see a posted "No Parking" sign? Did you miss a car payment? Did you return to a lot where you have unpaid citations? Finding the reason can narrow down the phone numbers to dial.
Locate the vehicle. Most states, cities, or counties require towing companies to leave some form of contact information via a posted sign or sent by mail.
Recovery dates and times depend on the company that towed the vehicle, but those times will be posted to the website or can be recited by a representative.
Pay the fees. Be careful to be as prompt as possible, as some tow yards may charge storage fees by the day.

If you feel your vehicle was wrongfully towed, contesting the action can be done with the following steps:

Be prompt - many states have a small window of time where it's acceptable to file a complaint against a company that wrongfully towed the vehicle.
Gather supporting documents: photos, emails, receipts, police reports, and witness statements if applicable. The more evidence, the better.
Get familiar with your local laws, as laws for towing companies vary per state.
Try speaking with the towing company. Sometimes it may have been a simple oversight, and the matter can be resolved quickly.
Contact the Justice of the Peace in your area, as they may have more insight or resources to help. They are often utilized for towing cases.
Talk to a lawyer. Many lawyers have free case consultations, and depending on the case, it may be worth it to utilize a lawyer.

Source: Oregon Department of Justice, National General, Rak Law Firm

"How the heck had I missed this?" he wrote.

"Well, I think that, when I looked under the Jeep in the Costco parking lot, the sensor wasn’t actually touching the driveshaft, so I ignored it. Only when the nub spun around did that nub hit, and only when I hit a bump did the sensor make contact with the body of the driveshaft, leaving rub marks."

Tracy's knowledge of Jeeps is hard to match - so hard, in fact, that Jeep had recruited him to help improve the current Wrangler, hence his mild shame.

"You’d think someone who has owned over a dozen old Jeeps, who helped engineer the current-generation Jeep Wrangler, and who has spent the last 15 years rebuilding engines, transmissions, transfer cases, driveshafts, and just generally wrenching like crazy would be able to figure out the cause of a banging noise under an old YJ," he continued.

"But nope, I screwed this one up."


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