This #vanlife is not all it is cracked up to be

Oh, the joys of #vanlife!

I was checking up on my Vanagon yesterday and noticed the coolant was low. Missing coolant is very bad in a Vanagon for many, many reasons.

I looked for a leak.

I could not find a leak. It was possible the car had just burped an air bubble and swallowed a cup or two of coolant from the reserve. I was not in a panic.

View this post on Instagram

Via my sister

A post shared by Jason Weisberger (@jlw) on

I also knew my power steering belt was looking really ragged. I decided to call the local shop I've been working with and see if they could swap the belt and pressure test the system today.

They said bring the bus in at 7am.

I drove the 10-15 miles to my mechanic with no problems at all. I had given myself an extra hour in the event something terrible went wrong with the cooling system, or the v-belt decided to trash my day on the way to being replaced.

It is a Vanagon, these things happen.

I got to the shop uneventfully. I love my bus. I take good care of it.

See, things work out!

I decided to park about 3 blocks away and get a cup of pretty terrible coffee from a Starbucks.

Starbucks had terrible coffee.

I, and Pretzel my faithful Cavalier King Charles companion, returned to the van. I turned the key in the ignition.

No lights! Not a flicker! Not a click…

View this post on Instagram

Beat the heat #vanlife #solar

A post shared by Jason Weisberger (@jlw) on

In to the AC port went the voltmeter. 12.8v. WTF? That looks good.

Turn the key. No lights, no click, no nothing. 6v on them multimeter!

I grab my portable jumpstart battery and check its charge level. It says it is full, which is a relief. I last charged it in May when I left my home in Northern CA on a summer of living the #vanlife addventure. The emergency jumpstarter showed full. I hooked it all up.

My dashboard lights flickered when I turned the key, then nothing. Subsequent, and there were many, attempts at starting the car resulted in zero lights. The voltmeter showed the same numbers.

I found help and even tried another battery jumppack. No good. Out came the multi-tester.

The battery was showing 12.9v at the battery. I figured the battery must be bad and not holding a real charge. I jammed the multitester's spike into the battery terminal/cable junction and with the multitester wedged in, I turned the key to see what would happen.

The multitester spike filled a tiny gap and bridged a loose connection. Also a lot of wiggling all the junk back there may have helped. The car started.

My battery terminal had somehow worked its way loose over the last few years, or possibly it got jostled during another recent electrical no-start.

The van is now getting its v-belt replaced and the cooling system pressure tested.

#vanlife, babies.