Engine Oil

Driving to Whitehorse, I am all alone in the middle of the Yukon when, to my horror, the engine oil pressure warning indicator on my dash lights up.

Now, I have only ever bought and driven cheap, base model economy cars, so I am not used to a lot of fancy lights, warnings, and gentle reminders.

So when I see this:

oil indicator light

Which I later learn from my owner’s manual means:

oil indicator light

Excuse me driver, not to bother you, but it is possible that your oil has fallen somewhere below the halfway point on the max and min range. You might want to check it at your earliest convenience.

I instead read this:

oil indicator light

Hey genius, you drained your oil pan a while back. Pull over, this thing is totaled.

It completely freaked me out. Am I misunderstanding this? I haven’t ever had an oil indicator light come on in my car before. I always thought it was an almost catastrophic warning indication.

But, maybe I’m just a bit too anxious or confused.

Anyway, it just blinked on and then back off. I checked the owner’s manual (which stated what I noted previous, that it was just a minor indication), checked the oil, confirmed that it was below the halfway point, and decided I was okay to drive the next 100 miles into Whitehorse.

I was lucky to discover a Dodge dealer in Whitehorse who checked everything out for me.

I stuck around for an extra day to get an oil change. (I was hoping to get it done after I drove the Dempster, in Anchorage.)

I also stocked up on some Dempster Highway emergency supplies at the local Walmart.

Getting ready for the Dempster

Having been told by Bob W. that they had 10 ply tires and got one flat, but that they met someone with 4 ply tires that got 4 flats. I was trying to figure out where I stood with my tires.

I don’t really know what I have. I know how to check the date code. I know how to find my tire size. I know to stick a penny in it to check the tread.

I think they might be 7 ply.

So, I was trying to do the math:

(10 ply tires + 4 ply tires = 1 flat + 4 flats)/2


7 ply = 2.5 flats.

Does that work?

If so, I’m gonna get two and a half flats.

(But with six tires, maybe it’s higher. I couldn’t figure out that equation.)

Since both the Milepost and the Web site for the town of Inuvik say you should carry two spares, I decided to buy a spare-spare.

The spare-spare doesn’t have a rim, so I would still need to use the service station at Eagle Plains, but I’ve learned that you really do need to carry your own spare parts around here.

(I do have everything I need to change ONE flat.)

Next problem: Where can I store the spare-spare?

Under the sofa? Too short.

In my big basement storage? Not gonna work.

In front of the passenger seat? Can’t close the door.

Aha! I’ve got it!

Spare Tire

And perfectly disguised.

Tire cover


Question: Hey, Ms. Mechanic, Why weren’t you carrying extra oil?

Answer:  Because I’m an idiot. And because I didn’t know what PPL put in and was advised not to mix oils. I thought I could make it to Anchorage for the oil change.  (I did buy extra oil from the Dodge dealer this time.)


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