Move Update: The Unexpected

Mid-day Wednesday I ran out to the car, keys in hand, to go grocery shopping before meeting Archie at school. I clicked to open the locks — nothing. I opened the door manually and tried to start the car with the key: nothing. On the chance the problem was the battery in the key fob, I ran up to the drug store in my new neighborhood and got a replacement battery. Nothing. I called the local Subaru dealer to see if the car should start manually even with a problem in the key fob, and they said yes. If not, the battery must be dead. Had I left a light on in the car by chance, draining the battery? I went out to check. Yes, the back hatch hadn’t been fully closed at some point when I was moving stuff, leaving a small light on — enough to drain the battery. Jump start needed.

I called AAA emergency number, but since I have a Rochester-area code cell phone number, I got Buffalo, NY. Useless, except the person on the phone gave me the local Washington AAA emergency number.

Dave from AAA arrived shortly in a tow truck, saying the big rig was overkill for a jump start but he’d been the closest guy to service the call. We tried to jump the battery, and got a screeching whine instead. Dave opined that the timer belt was broken — a random event that coincided with the dead battery.  We needed the tow truck after all.

Dave towed the car to Subaru, and did the most masterful job I’ve ever seen backing my car into a narrow spot in the dealer’s tow lot. Miraculously, the dealer had one loaner left, so I was on wheels although without car seats. Heidi and I worked around re the kids.

Two pieces of good news: if your car is going to randomly die, it’s best to have it happen in front of your house rather than on the road. And if you need a loaner and haven’t arranged for one ahead of time, it’s really lucky when the dealer happens to have one available.

The third piece of good news came 24 hours later. All that was wrong was the drained battery, and they simply recharged it — didn’t even need to be replaced. The whine came from the dead battery, not a broken timer belt. The cost was $17.50 all in, and I drove the car out mid-afternoon Thursday, ready for the rest of my day.

6 thoughts on “Move Update: The Unexpected

  1. Great news that it wasn’t your timing belt, because when those break it almost always means catastrophic engine failure. (It would also be incredibly unusual for it to fail given the age and low mileage on your car.)

    PS: An all new 2019 Forester arrives later this year! I could also see you in a new Lexus NX300 F Sport. I saw a silver one in a parking lot a while ago with red leather. Sharp little crossover.

  2. for Ben: The thought that the timing belt had broken came from the AAA guy who towed me. The Subaru service person said that was unlikely, given the age and mileage of the car — which proved true, happily. The loaner I drove was a fully loaded Outback with only 500 miles on it — really nice ride. I love the new technology. For about another 2 years I will have a full-on carseat in the back — after that, booster seat which is less intrusive. I’ve really liked the Forrester, but it is an 8 year old car. I’m tempted. Sometimes I think I just need a little car to get around town, but the safety features of Subaru matter. My brother-in-law was driving an Outback in rural Maine when a 1200 pound moose quite improbably jumped onto the road from an overhang and onto the front of his car — sailing over the top and off the back. The car was totaled, but the frame held and Paul survived. The State Police who showed up said he was a very lucky man. Paul could have been in that commercial Subaru ran awhile ago, the “He survived.” Will keep you posted on what I look at. Will take a look at that Lexus. Fun to look at all options.

  3. I also noticed recently that Jaguar has come out with a smaller crossover called the E-Pace. I have yet to see one in person but it looks good in photos. That being said I still stand by Subaru as the sensible and safe option. I love my Outback. 😉

  4. for Ben: Ah, you’re in an Outback now. Does your mother still have hers? I seem to recall that she bought a new Subaru about the same time I did.

  5. I’ve had this Outback since last year. I loved my (very bright blue) Crosstrek but it was just slightly too small for me to be comfortable in on long trips. The Outback is the perfect size.

    My mom had a Forester a couple years earlier than yours. My stepfather is driving that now and she’s in a “Special Edition” bright red Crosstrek that she got a couple years ago. I believe it was the very first special red edition car that we got at the dealership.

  6. for Ben: Lots of choices. The loaner Outback I drove was fully loaded, and I must say I was impressed. Your Mom’s car sounds like a lot of fun.

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