Jeep RSA & service experience: Compass breaks down during a road trip

My SUV stalled, the steering got locked and error messages for every part started showing up.

BHPian stonefish recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Went through an experience over the Diwali weekend (21-Oct-22 to 25-Oct-22). Although, the service levels of FCA were surely better this time.

I and wifey were on a south coast drive on our 24-month Compass (Diesel BS6 Longitude AT 22,000 km) starting last Friday and made the first halt at Madurai. On Saturday morning, we headed for Varkala in Kerala and left NH44 after Kovilpatti to take the SH75 which goes to Kerala via Tenkasi.

At around 11 am, 30 km before Tenkasi, the car a/c suddenly started blowing hot air. In a few seconds, other indicators started blinking and error messages for every part started showing up. I was perplexed for a moment as the car was serviced for the 30k mark just two days back at the Yashwanthpur ASC! My first thought was that the ECM was acting up and I cautiously steered the vehicle to the left of the road.

In another couple of seconds, the car stalled and even the steering got locked. The only message we were getting was to Service the VPS. I called up the RSA and they were quite efficient in getting the necessary details I was informed that a mechanic was being dispatched within 60 min. A mechanic turned up within the hour and after preliminarily checks hinted at a depleted battery. I was not very sure as a bad battery should not cause a running car to stall. Also, as per practice, I checked both the voltage and the DEF levels before starting the car in the morning. It had shown 14V that morning.

The local mechanic did not need to jump as the battery had regained enough juice by that time to crank on its own and was suggesting towing the car to his own garage. I desisted and sent him away. Anyways, the engine died within a couple of minutes again.

I again called up the RSA and they offered to tow the car back to the nearest ASC. My car was almost equidistant from Tirunelveli, Trivandrum and Madurai. But finally settled for Tirunelveli which was 80 km away. The flatbed arrived after a painful 4 hrs and then I flagged down a passing taxi and requested him to jump my battery using my own jumper cables. This was needed as I had put the auto lever on Park mode in those dying moments of battery charge in the morning. But to winch the car up the flatbed the lever had to be brought to Neutral mode.

Luckily, the taxi agreed and in no time I could jump the battery for a minute enough to shift the lever.

Meanwhile, my Bangalore ASC was in constant touch with their Tirunelveli counterparts. Between both service teams, it was almost concluded that the issue was with the Alternator assembly. Tirunelveli ASC confirmed that they have the necessary spares in stock if that indeed was the problem.

The RSA also offered a taxi drop to move us and our luggage for a max fare of 2k/- They could not arrange one immediately and requested us to book one locally and sent us the reimbursement form by mail. We got a local cab and proceeded for our balance holidays.

On Tue, after the Tirunelveli workshop opened after a couple of holidays, they immediately looked at the car. As expected, the Alternator pulley was found to be corroded. Being under an extended warranty, they changed the part, collaborated with the Bangalore team for the necessary paperwork and called me around 1 pm to inform me that the car was test driven and was ready for delivery.

I came down from Kanyakumari and picked up the car at around 4 pm. Drove down to Bangalore on Wednesday keeping an eye on the console. We reached back without any more troubles. On Thurs, Yashwanthpur ASC called up and offered to pick up the car for another round of inspection at their end. I will be sending the car to them on Monday now.

Other than the hassles faced by the equipment failure, cannot really fault the ASCs/FCA much on the actions taken.

Just a few lingering questions:

  1. Is it not possible for the ASC to check the electrical components more carefully as these cars are so heavily dependent on technology?
  2. The flatbed took 4 hrs to reach us whereas the RSA estimate was 90 min!

But, I also realised that we need to be prepared well once on the road. A few things are surely required:

  1. Battery jump starter kit, preferably with its own cell.
  2. Your own portable power bank to keep your mobile phones charged during this period. You will be constantly on calls.
  3. Your own tool kit to match some of the screws and nuts in the engine bay.
  4. If you are driving an auto then stop in Neutral mode. Hold the car in the old-fashioned way of putting stones as wheel chokes.
  5. A strong tow cable rated to match the car weight.

Here's what BHPian UD17 had to say on the matter:

Sorry to hear about your breakdown experience. It is certainly a holiday spoiler to have in the back of your mind, that you have to take care of a breakdown after the fulfilling vacation.

Coming to your question, The part shown in your pictures is a decoupler pulley. My friend experienced a similar kind of battery discharge alert in his Compass, although the Odo was much higher, I understood this as an issue of the Compass in general. We discussed this with the Sky Moto technician at that time in detail regarding this battery drain issue.

My understanding is that Decouplers are extremely reliable. The biggest reason for a failing decoupler could be the engine resonance, more precisely the Idle resonance vibrations (The reason for resonance could be many, most predictable are calibration and driving behaviour).

To answer your first question- If the parts (alternator assembly) are working fine at ASC during service, the ASC can not do anything about it. No checking will help as the part is functioning properly anyways. The part failed subsequently because of the prolonged resonance (or fatigue) it is experiencing.

Do you have more pictures of the part? These parts come with a cap attached to them to save guard from the external environment, I could not see the cap so I am guessing if the cap is installed or not.

On your last comments: No tools can help unless one is equipped with the knowledge about parts, basic functioning, hands-on etc. So keeping a different variety of tools (apart from some basics like air inflator, puncture repair, jumper cable, a basic toolbox for tyre change etc.) is not feasible and not very practical either.

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