As we were traveling back to Richmond, me in the suburban that just turned 200,000 miles towing a 12 ft. Uhaul trailer and my husband in a 1996 Dodge Ram Diesel Truck towing our 40ft fifth wheel (16,000 lb of weight) we happened upon a bit of trouble. While prior to our departure we had some work done on the truck it seemed to be having some other troubles on the road.
It developed the "Death Wobble".
This is a real term and a very scary real thing. Watch the front driver's side wheel. It looks like a floppy fish. When I saw my husband's wheel doing this it looked much floppier. We pulled over on the next exit and we lucked out. We didn't know where we were or if we would be able to get it fixed.
We pulled into a Walmart there (we were lucky there was one on the exit). I walked into the store and headed straight to the automotive section. I hoped I would find someone there shopping who may look like they could help us find a mechanic who does front end work. A Death Wobble occurs when there is any type of play in the suspension. I didn't find any shoppers but I did find out that they sold tires and had a shop right at Walmart. I walked around to one of the open bay doors and called a mechanic over. He told me that they don't do any front end work, just tires, rotations, and oil changes. Great. I ask if he knows of anyone in town who does work on front ends. At that time a lady came over who had a Walmart tag on but she wasn't dressed in mechanics clothes. She asked if she could help. I explained my situation and told her I didn't even know where I was. She was so helpful. She told me where I was, where the best place to get the work done was, the address of the shop, the phone number, and their hours. She also told me we could keep the trailer in the parking lot, no problems. She also told me where to find a hotel for the night. Her name was Julia and if you ever happen to be in Walterboro, SC at the Walmart and see her, say hello!
I take all this information back out to my husband who is still looking under the front end for damage, something broken, etc. Even though the shop we need to get to is closed, my husband calls anyway. He gets an answering service who patches him into a mechanic. The shop also works on commercial trucks so they are available 24/7 for road emergencies on commercial vehicles. We are not their kind of emergency but they tell us to bring it in the next morning at 7:30 am. They will have someone on it immediately for us. We spend the night. Everyone is friendly.
The next morning we take the truck over to the repair shop. They immediately put it up on the rack and discover we have a bad steering suspension. The part is 45 minutes away and will arrive by delivery driver at 1:30 pm. They then say that they are trying to contact a brother of another mechanic to see if he can go get it and bring it to them earlier. The brother can't do it but no problems we are stuck until 1:30. I leave but my husband and son stay behind with the truck and trailer. I had to get to our destination to meet the realtor and get the keys to our new place.
Once the truck part was put on the truck they did a test drive but that didn't solve the problem. They found another issue and solved it but this put them possibly not leaving that evening. The mechanic who had been working with my husband invited him to his home for dinner that evening. How nice was that! Southern hospitality at its best. My husband and son considered it but felt they needed to get back on the road and put some miles under them that evening. They were still 8+ hours away from us girls who went ahead.
At one point during this ordeal, my husband said to me, "We are back in the south and it feels so good to be here."