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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Successes and Failures

Failures first, to get them out of the way! 

My car battery gives me trouble.  The dealership swears it is perfectly OK; that I just dont't drive enough these days.  But I've had times in other cars (and other batteries of course) when I didn't drive much and they stayed charged.  In fact, one time I was away from home for 6 weeks and when I returned, my car started right up.  (I had a roommate who took care of the cat while I was gone)

So when I don't drive for 5 days and the battery is dead, I get pretty PO!  I bought a "battery minder" (a super slow trickle charger that activates only when the charge drops), but hadn't hooked it up (uncertainties about safety of use in an enclosed space). 

But I noticed that the battery was 4 years old AND had a bad rating from Consumer Reports.  So, I decided to replace it even if the dealership wouldn't.  Amazingly, the 2nd rated battery (by a squeek) was from Walmart, of all places.  So I bought one.  Today I set about replacing it. 

Now, replacing a battery is probably one of the easiest things to do in a car.  It's right THERE in easy reach.  You just loosen the terminal clamps, pull them off, lift old the old battery, set in the new, and replace the terminals tightly.

I have no luck sometimes.  There was a hold-down bracket I had to remove.  Removing that was easy.  Retreiving the hooked rod that it was attached to it and dropped down when loosened was annoying.  But I got it.  The other end of the hold-down bracket was just a large metal screw (meaning a screw designed go into metal rather than wood), and I carefully set it aside. 

So, of course, as soon as I removed the battery hold-down bracket, my sleeve brushed the screw and it fell into the bowels of the engine compartment.  15 minutes of searching around with a magnet on a flexible metal rod found nothing.   GRRR!

I went ahead and removed the terminals and pulled the old battery out.  Set in the new one.  That was harder than I thought.  The positive and negative cable insisted on getting under the new battery because they manufacturer doesn't leave 1/4" of extra length AND they have the cables joined with user-unfriendly clamps in several places.  It would have been easy if I had 3 hands...

OK, I got the battery in and the cables unencumbered.  But the cables won't reach the correct + and - terminals.  They are on OPPOSITE sides from the original battery!!!  And yes, it is the correct battery; I double and triple checked! 

Unless I cut off all the cable attachments (and there is some metal involved) I can't use the new battery.  So I undid all my work and put the old battery back in.  At least I can jump the old one when required (not usually needed in warm weather).

However, I DID attach the "battery minder" to the terminals before I reattached them.  That thing is a little weird.  There are cables that you stick out through the front grill so that you don't have to open the hood to attach it.

Here is the surprise:  Before I closed the hood, having spent over an hour to no useful gain, I popped open the tops of the old battery (the one back in the car) where you can see the electrolyt level inside the battery cells.  They were WAY low!

That might be the whole problem!  Sure, I should have checked that first.  But the dealership said the battery was fine just 2 months ago and I assumed they checked that.  But I had just gone through checking my boat batteries and refilling them, and JUST thought I should look in the car battery.

I won't know for a couple days.  I have the battery minder attached and will see what is says about the charge then.

Now, I had intended to write about other things also, but this has gotten long, so I think I will leave the other matters til tomorrow.

In fact, if you read THIS far, I am impressed!  Thank you.  I can get boring sometimes...

1 comment:

Megan said...

It's helpful to know that other people encounter these annoying little problems, Mark - so no, not boring. I'm always impressed by your willingness to tackle such situations and persevere even when finding a solution isn't as straightforward as you might have hoped.

Sydney, Australia