Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Car Wars ...

Well, OK, maybe not wars, but oy with the car trouble already!

The thing is, my current problem might be a problem that's not actually current. My car might have been trying to tell me something was wrong but when something completely flukey happens for two seconds and then everything seems perfectly fine and then the flukey thing doesn't happen again for months, the tendency – my tendency, anyway – is to shrug and say, "Well, that was weird" and keep driving.

My current problem is literally a current problem. My car battery, it seems, is sucking too much power when it's turned off, which is rendering my car a 4,000-pound paperweight.

Thankfully, my brother Paul is a bit of a deductive-reasoning genius, and he very kindly offered to come over and help troubleshoot the problem. He has a hefty handful of degrees, one of which is all about electrical stuff, so he hooked up a meter to my battery and touched leads to terminals and measured things while I opened and closed a door and then opened and closed the trunk and then used my remote to lock the doors and then unlock the doors – who says most chicks are useless around cars? – all of which allowed him to figure out that my car has a problem that he can't fix.

Because cars these days are smarter than Sarah Palin (sorry, I couldn't stop myself; it just came out) and Paul's knowledge of all this new-fangled technology comes from the mechanics' manuals, which I do not own for my car. (Paul, it's worth noting, does own the manuals for his SUV, so he can troubleshoot problems if they arise. But in my case, I need my mechanic to figure out the rest of the problem because he deals with late-model cars on a regular basis.)

So, what does all this mean? Well, I have no idea. I could be an expensive fix. It could be an inexpensive fix. Right now, my car is in the garage, hood up, with a battery charger clamped to the posts, and once it's juiced up again, we'll detach the positive terminal and then check the battery a day later and see if it held its charge on its own. If it holds, I have a bigger problem, possibly the body control module. If it doesn't hold, then this battery is just crap and it's easy to pop this one out and pop a new one in.

Fingers crossed that the battery is crap. That'll be the quick 'n' easy fix. My father, conveniently, still works part time in the auto-parts industry, so I get anything my car needs for less than most of you. He very kindly hung out at work late tonight (thanks again, Dad!), waiting for me or my brother to return his phone calls, wondering if we needed him to bring anything to us. Unfortunately, we were outside playing car doctor and car nurse and missed his calls until we came inside to get warm and by then, it was quite a bit later than it usually is when he calls it a day.

In the meantime, I am a woman without a car. Which is fine, really. In a pinch, I can borrow a car. But the drug store, the grocery store, and the bank are all within walking distance of my house. So I can stock up on some baking supplies – as many as I can carry home from the store, which will be good exercise, since I won't be going to the gym – and get crackin' on my holiday baking. The list is long and time is short. I need to make room in my freezer.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sarah Palin could fix the car; you can't. 'Nuff said.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Well, then, Sarah Palin is welcome to come by and do it. I'll even pay her.

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least you live in a city with good public transportation - you can hop the CTA and still get around to where you want to go. Me, I live in a small city in Minnesota that has no such amenities. I'd be DESTITUTE without my wheels!!!

2:03 PM  

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