Problems Problems Problems 6-11/10/10

Posted: October 13, 2010 in 5.Turkey

Catastrophic nightmare (no it’s not an over reaction Megan) best sums up our last week in Turkey. And why, you ask? Is it because Megan’s snoring has become so loud that it wakes up entire hotels? Is it because I still have not been able to find Cheerios? Perhaps it’s because the daily budget has become a distant dream due to the fuel prices? No, it’s none of the above. The car, my beloved Land Rover has chosen this last week to make our lives more ‘interesting’ and our pockets a lot lighter. I suppose it had to happen really, and one problem I could have forgiven but when the count got to five that’s when steering wheels were punched, tires kicked and profanities leveled at British Engineering.

The first problem was on the drive from Goreme to Nemrut Dagi to see the famous fallen heads. Two hours out we smelt something burning and pulled over to the side of the road, only to find that the handbrake would not move. After four hours under the car (and yet another t-shirt ruined) the handbrake seemed ok and following a call back to Douglass Motors the cause seems to have been that the handbrake cable was acting as the main electrical earth of the car and hence melted. Don’t asked me to explain it any further as I really have no idea how or why this would happen.

That same day after we had disconnected the handbrake cable and driven on a further hour and a half we pulled over to have some lunch only see water escaping to freedom from my NEW radiator. Luckily I had some Radweld to temporarily stop the leak and seeing that we were in the middle of nowhere it was a damn good thing. We decided not to proceed all the way to Nemrut Dagi, as it was getting late and instead stopped at a hotel in Malatya. We checked into a rather nice and needless to say rather expensive hotel and the next morning I went to find a garage that could weld the radiator. Turkish garages are not the same as garages in the UK for the following reasons:

You get free pizza/pies/bread/buns

You get a constant supply of free tea

A free lesson on Kurdish popular music (let’s just say it’s not Kylie)

There is a sofa provided to while away the hours it takes the mechanic to do a little work, have a little tea, do some more work, have a little tea…

Unfortunately the only English Hamza the mechanic knew was ‘Oh my God’, a little disconcerting when he is looking at the engine, back at me, back at the car etc.

Radiator fixed but still no handbrake we spent the rest of the day wondering around Malatya and got up early the next day to drive over the mountains to Erzurum. The road to Erzurum started well but as we reached the higher altitudes it turned into a deeply rutted farm track. For about an hour we plodded our way along until smoke started pouring out from under Megan’s seat! For a minute I thought the stress had driven her to the Marlborough Lights but I was quickly corrected and we pulled over quick smart. I expected to find a mass of molten plastic and copper but luckily it only turned out that one of the batteries had come loose and was touching the bottom of Megan’s seat and shorting out. Once the battery was wrestled back into place we continued on. We soon passed through a stretch of road that I thought was wet with water but after driving through a little too quickly and coming out the other end smelling something strange it turned out that it was in fact wet tar! Are you kidding me?!? The car was covered, I mean covered top to bottom in wet, smelly tar and that stuff does not come off. Once we got to Erzurum we broke out two new sponges and the washing up liquid and scrubbed the car in a garage forecourt, much to amusement of the petrol pump attendants. Most of it came off but a lot still remains so if anyone knows of a way to remove tar from a car please let me know. I’m not going to lie to you all, I cried a little bit when I saw the state of it.

After a day in Erzurum we got up and headed to the last town in Turkey before the Iranian Border, Dogubayazit. Megan was feeling under the weather, too many kebabs, so it was a very quiet drive until I noticed the temperature gauge had gone past the red and was at max, max, max. My lengthy and surprisingly imaginative bout of swearing woke Megan up but after checking the engine it all seemed ok, so I diagnosed that the gauge was at fault. We drove the last hour very slowly, stopping often to check the engine. This was a low point for the both of us and we had one of those ‘I wish we were at home right now’ moments. We limped into Dogubayazit and after agreeing it was far too cold to camp we booked into a hostel, yes you read that right, Simon Maple checked into a hostel. Well it was £18 a night and you got what you paid for but at least it was clean. The next morning, after spending a lot of time trying to find the fault we gave in and took the car to a garage. He couldn’t fix our broken gauge but fitted a temporary one to the dashboard, which unfortunately required taking an angle grinder to the Land Rover, resulting in much wincing and sharp intakes of breath on our parts when the sparks started flying.

So now as we start heading through Iran we have no hand brake, an extra temperature gauge cable tied to the dashboard and a car that smells of tar, brilliant.

We have been blown away by the landscape and the people of Turkey and would definitely visit again. Budget wise; petrol, car problems and four nights in a nice hotel in Istanbul has pushed us well over. Hopefully we can claw it back in Iran where diesel is practically free…

  1. nicholas says:

    best of luck in iran.

    oh and use WD40 apparently.

    I founds some comments to back this up. wd40 believer, graham and Marian all seem very excited about it.

    WD40 Believer on 2004-07-26

    Using WD40 to remove tar spots on our car was quite effective, and did not do any damage to the paint. We gave the car a good wash following the WD40 application; did not leave any residue on the car.

    Graham on 2008-03-26

    One application of WD40 on a small lump of tar, a little gentle rubbing and its gone. No damage to the paintwork

    Marian on 2008-07-07

    This was a brilliant tip.The car got coveed in tar and all we did was spray with the WD 40, wash it off and it was perfect.


  2. Tim Parrott says:

    Nice to see someone else having prolems,mine is also a leaky radiator but mine has a twist,it leaks water after a good run but when levels are checked they are ok,work that one out.hope all holds together and you have a good rest of journey and always look on the bright side.

  3. Paul says:

    Angle Grinding to the car to put a new guage in sounds pretty drastic!, as well as two lots of short circuits!

    Jeez you’ve had your fair share of bad luck … still I guess they call it character building! (or something like that!).

    Keep the diary coming …. very very interesting!


    Paul and Cath!

  4. Gerry says:


    Petrol mixed with a wee drop of lube oil will remove the tar.
    Keep her lit!!!

  5. Mat R says:

    Good luck guys… don’t let the technical issues get you down.

    You’re diary has been a most entertaining, enlightening and inspiring read, and I hope you get to Oz without any further mishaps.

  6. nessie says:

    Hello. We have finally got around to reading your diary pages – you poor things – a sick car is never fun. We spent several hours in Doggiebiscuit wiping our car down with heavy duty mechanical hand wipes to remove liquid tar!
    Tabriz drivers are mad but it’s all good training for India – familiarise yourselves with the crash position! ha ha

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