Friday, July 5, 2024

More Car Trouble

During our vacation, we had to replace the battery in the Minivan.  Less than a week later, I had to replace the thermostat.  On Wednesday of this week, the car wouldn't start while I was at Boris' OT.  I got a jump and made it back home, but then the car died again.

When this light comes on, it's serious

Since Thursday was July 4th, no auto shops were open.  For fun, I tried jumping the car again and had mixed results.  The car did power up but I accidentally crossed the streams of the jumper cables when I took them off the car providing the recharge.  This caused the car to turn off and a red dot to appear on the dashboard.  Uncle Google said this is a security feature that supposedly makes your car inoperable in's not clear why this would help.

Working on your car in the South be like

There was no power to anything else.  Which means car doors don't work.  The trunk door won't open.  The driver and passenger have manual door openers but you really need to be able to open side doors and trunks.  

I didn't spend too much time on it because it was so Fucking Hot yesterday I couldn't be outside without breaking into a sweat even just standing still, let alone trying to troubleshoot a vehicle.

This morning, for grins and giggles, I decided to try again.  The red dot was still there.  I put my jumper cables on my battery and purposely cross the other set to see if I get a spark.  A spark would mean the battery has power.  I did get a spark.  But only one.  the second time I tried, there was nothing.  I removed the cables and checked the cab.  This time, the lower-level things did work, but the car didn't start.

I went back and attempted to put the cables back on.  when I put the red on the positive side of the battery, the battery shook, and the car simulated the sounds it makes when you try to start it up.  

I tried to start the car and it powered up.  Yes!  And then I put on my Bad Decision Jeans.  I told the kids that they had to come with me or go over to Kendra's house.  They chose the latter and wisely so, as it would turn out.

For some reason, I was locked into the idea that the car didn't have enough charge.  So I decided to drive it around for 30 minutes.  But about 15-20 minutes into that, the dashboard display and other electrical systems started to flicker.  I decided that I should turn around and go straight to the automotive place I had tried calling all morning with no answer.  I was about 2 miles away when the car went dead while driving.  I didn't have the smarts to pull over because Missippippi Road shoulders don't really exit.  I was trying to make it to a cutout to a subdivision but was stopped 50 yards short.  While driving, I put the car in Neutral and tried to restart, no luck.  So I put it in Park, which was good and bad.  Bad in that there was now no way to push it. But good in that it wouldn't get into an accident by suddenly moving on its own.

So there I am dead in the water at Pleasant Hill, between Goodman Rd and Nall Rd.  At the moment I decided to enact a U-turn and head toward the auto shop, I was also talking to my FIL.  I would need a ride home.  At his bequest, I called Triple-A again because we would need a tow.  I wanted desperately to avoid that because it is such a painful process to get them to send anyone (feature, not bug), but I did so.  

Because I wasn't completely off the road -- not even close -- all the cars going North had to go around me in a No-Passing Zone when it was clear to do so.  Many good samaritans wanted to give me a jump but I explained that was not the problem.  And because I was in Park, there was no way to move the car.  

While we were waiting for the Tow Truck, I decided to try to repeat my earlier steps to see if I could get the car started.  My FIL felt it was futile but I've learned to go against his recommendations and once again I was right.  I got the car started and was able to drive it to the Autoshop, where I learned why they weren't answering their phone.  They were closed.

It makes sense.  Nobody wants to work anymore.  They are closed on the weekends and were obviously closed for the 4th.  Why not give your crew a 4 day weekend, especially since it likely doesn't cost the shop owner since the mechanics probably get paid only when they are working.  

Triple-A called at that exact moment to tell me they were on the way so I was able to cancel the tow.  The options were to leave the car there or find a place that was open.  The risk was driving a car that might become disabled at any moment.  A quick call to Nightingale confirmed the right decision was to leave the car.  

Next week Natasha starts Soccer Camp.  We could technically walk there but the heat will still be terrible.  So we will rely on the In-Laws to get her there and back, while I deal with the car.

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