My car battery was dead when I went down yesterday to head out for an appointment. That’s the thing about car batteries: they’re fine until they aren’t.
I have a funky parking space, which is angled, against the wall on one side, and has a concrete pillar on the other side between my space and the next one. I actually like the space a lot, because I pull right in and don’t have to contend with possibly nicking other cars. But with a dead battery, the space was a problem. Daryl, the building maintenance guy who is both super competent and probably the most decent human being on the planet, happened to be nearby. He offered to get his truck and jumper cables, but then we couldn’t get my car into neutral so we could push it back to a position where his truck could be alongside the car. He pulled into the adjacent space, but the cables weren’t long enough to reach. There were some workmen on site, and he went to ask if anyone had a free-standing battery charger.
Mind you, my dead battery was most emphatically not Daryl’s job. Nor was it the workmen’s, who were all busy doing other things.
One of the guys did have the right kind of charger, and he offered to go get it. The car started, and both he and Daryl agreed I should take it someplace like Les Schwab right away as it wasn’t clear whether the problem was the battery or the alternator.
At Les Schwab in Ballard, I found out that the factory car battery is usually only good for about five years, and was indeed putting out less than half the charge it should have been. The tech said that likely the broken glass incident — where we had to have the car on so that tech could lower and raise the window — was the final straw for the battery. A fully functioning batter could have been on for the 20 minutes or so without ill effects, but not my seven year old one.
Kudos for Les Schwab, who had a new battery in very quickly, and sent me on my way.
I take the car in for service regularly, and I’m wondering why checking the battery output isn’t part of the deal? I’ve long known that factory-installed tires on a new car are mid-range at best, and that you have to see to them after about five years. But I had no idea that applies to batteries too. Now I do.
My daughter-in-law Amy poses this question to the little ones when they’re about to have a meltdown over something: “Is this a big problem, or a small one?”
A dead battery is a small one, but I’m ready to have these tics in my day-to-day experience subside. 🙂