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.