As I was making the 850 mile Great Crossing, I had an interesting experience with the ASSIST light but first, some background is necessary…
Missy has a cruise control like any other cruise control – it maintains whatever speed you have set (or tries to in the case of going up/down a hill). She also has a transmission retarder. This is similar in purpose to a Jake brake or engine brake – like most big diesel trucks have – but it functions by creating drag in the transmission. It provides a breaking force to slow the vehicle without using the service brakes (wheel brakes) that generate a lot of excessive heat (think LOTS of weight going down a hill). It is possible to have both the cruise control and retarder ‘enabled’ simultaneously. What happens is the cruise maintains the set speed and, when going down a hill, the retarder kicks in when the vehicle speed is in excess of the cruise setting – because lots of weight going down hill has an innate tendency to pick up a LOT of speed.
With that in mind…
I had the cruise set at 65 mph and was cruising along fat, dumb, and happy. I came to a steep hill and starting going down. The retarder kicked in at about 70 mph. Just then, the red “ASSIST” light illuminated on the dash.
What is wrong – what has happened?!? Apparently I should not do what I am doing (both cruise and retarder).
The light flickered for a bit and then disappeared. I was concerned. I even yelled at it to stop.
An hour or two later, while carefully avoiding having the retarder and cruise both enabled, it happened again.
At this point, I was concerned by a factor of two. Worried. I sure did not want to continue driving and do some sort of irreparable damage to something. Especially a very expensive something.
So, I stopped, got out the laptop, and started searching Missy’s operating manuals.
There it was – the “ASSIST” tell-tale.
It means a passenger in the back has pushed the “Assistance Requested” button in the overhead console. Nearly the exact same thing as the flight attendant call button in an aircraft.
I started driving again.
It wasn’t long before the “ASSIST” light illuminated.
I stopped and made my way to the back of the bus looking for a passenger that required assistance. I could find none.
Slightly annoyed, I started driving again.
Again, it wasn’t long before the “ASSIST” light illuminated.
I was quite annoyed but I did what any good operator would do. I stopped and made my way to the back of the bus looking for a passenger that required assistance.
Again, I could find none.
And again, I continued driving.
As you might guess, it wasn’t long before the “ASSIST” light illuminated once again.
Two things were slowly becoming clear to me:
- I did not have any passengers.
- Missy was either haunted or playing games with me.
I then realized that I had removed the overhead consoles that contained the “Assistance” buttons so nobody was pressing them!
Spending hours and hours driving provides lots of time to contemplate various things. After only a few hours, I started thinking that perhaps, in lieu of a ghost, some of the wires that I cut out of the overhead bins and were just hanging about were making contact with something and causing the “ASSIST” light to illuminate.
Could this be Missy’s way of telling me to finish cleaning out that wiring?? As in “Hey JD, I would really appreciate it if you would raise the ‘remove unused overhead bin wiring’ to the top of the to do list. It is needless weight, unsightly, and a little embarrassing to me. Pretty please??”
It very well may have been.
I know this because shortly after discussing this with Missy, the “ASSIST” tell-tale ceased illuminating.
Yes Dear.… I have moved the wiring cleanup to “near” the top (compromise!) of the to do list…