We are at Servimaq Toyota in Osorno, a town in southern Chile. Our Toyota needs engine repair. One of its two head gaskets failed; it's a V6 engine, it has two.
How? We don't know for sure. It may have been a lingering problem for a while which we did not recognize. And it may have been aggravated by a recent coolant change, which may have been done improperly. The gasket failed at the front right cylinder, suggesting overheating in this area. Maybe air got trapped there, preventing coolant from reaching this part of the engine? It's possible...
Unfortunately, the temperature gauge always showed normal until it was too late, and the engine started roughly and steam came out of the exhaust. For us, this is really sad, because the car had been running perfectly up until then. For 21 years we had it maintained meticulously, and it always worked reliably.
Once we understood what had happened, it was hard not to feel like having ignored our good old friend. But it's a machine, and machines can be repaired more easily than neglected friendships can be mended.
We were lucky: no engine parts were damaged, and only the gaskets need to be replaced. Of course we'll get this fixed, even if this episode takes some months worth of money out of our travel budget.
We also were lucky to have broken down close to Servimaq with its professional, well-trained, and competent staff. In general, people here are friendly and helpful. The neighbor of Servimaq offered us to drop the camper in his unused driveway, with access to a toilet and a place to hang our solar shower. Without us asking, he gave us his wifi password.
This saves us a lot of money! We can cook and sleep in our camper. We are near downtown with many grocery stores and fresh food markets. Osorno is a nice town, and it is summer; the weather is fine.
All this is important, because parts for this engine are unavailable in Chile and have to be ordered from Toyota headquarters in Japan. This will take a while, and we may be here for most of February.
We hereby end this live update and continue with the regular slow-poke updating of our blog.