Man Down – Sprinter is on Injured Reserve

What the F@CK is this. I never saw this in the Drive to the Tip of South America brochure!

The Sprinter is on injured reserve. We are stranded in Belize. Here is what we know as of Monday, 4:05pm.

The Lead Up – Over the three and a half months in Mexico, we drove over approximately 2,250 topes (mexican speed bumps, learn more here). Some were hit at high speed. The van bottomed out once.

The Incident – On our way to Belize City we stopped to have the tires rotated. The less than competent tire shop employees dropped the Sprinter off the jacks.

The Current Symptoms – The van immediately pulls to the right when driven. When jacked up, both front wheels wobble when bolted on.

The Diagnosis – Bent tie rods on both sides, 1 possible bent wheel, possible wheel bearings shot.

The Recovery Plan – Tomorrow I will infiltrate Belize City looking for an auto repair shop that can work on a Mercedes Sprinter. Hopefully I’ll be able to find a reputable shop. I will relocate the van from the airport to this location. I will secure a shipping address and research all the customs issues with sending parts from the US to Belize. Meanwhile my father will drive from the Florida Keys to Miami to purchase needed parts. Once the address is secured and customs are dialed he will Fedex the parts to Belize. Hopefully installation goes smoothly. Turn time, 1-2 weeks.

The Cons:
-We’ve temporarily lost our home.
-In an effort to bolster the local phone companies, the government of Belize has blocked Skype, making it very hard to trouble shoot this over the phone to the US.
-We’re now having to spend way more time and money in Belize than planned.

The Pros:
-At least this didn’t happen in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, or Nicaragua (4 places you don’t want to break down).
-Being stranded on an island in Belize doesn’t suck.
-At least it wasn’t something with the engine.
-Belize is an english speaking country, making it easier to trouble shoot locally.
-I have an AMAZING father who is making making moves for the team back in the States. You’re the best Dad!

So I’m not quite at the point where I’m ready to ask for my money back on the Sprinter Life World Tour, but I do intend to write the travel agency a nasty letter. They should clearly stipulate that bent tie rods may be the outcome of driving your mobile home over 2,250 topes. And I would certainly expect to see something in the brochure about letting an underpaid 19 year old stoned rasta boy use a hydraulic jack. Wish me luck tomorrow. Big city here I come. TREE


  1. Well, where to begin with this one. I guess the letigious nature ofthe US does have it's benefits on the very rare occasion someone drops ur vehicle off the jacks. Grrrrrrr to the 10th.

    Let us know if there is anything we can do from Seattle.

    I'm keepin my fingers crossed that you will find a fantastic shop tomorrow and this will be but a brief chapter in the amazing novel to continue.

    Much love-

  2. Wow, what a bummer! I wish we knew someone living in Belize. Just on a whim I did a google search for auto repair in Belize and came up with this international auto repair site. Maybe it will have some good info.

    good Luck, let us know if we can do anything
    Love Aunt Deb & Uncle Barry

  3. didnt your mama tell you there would be days like this?

  4. Update – I spent all day in Belize City yesterday. Went to 3 repair shops. All agreed that nothing was wrong with the tie rods. The first shop rebalanced the tires, changes the air pressure, and then the van drove ok. The 2nd shop did a top to bottom check and blew out our air filter for us. Nice guys. Our decision is to drive on. We will head into Western Belize tomorrow and by this weekend we'll be crossing into Guatemala. We'll try to drive carefully on the van and hope that we can find a Sprinter Dealership in the near future. We suspect we'll find one in El Salvador. When we do, we'll have them do a top to bottom inspection of the van. TREE


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