Monday, October 26, 2009

Dead Car Battery

I have been driving around Jeep Grand Cherokees since 1996. Over 13 years with one car company and brand. During that time frame, I have owned a whopping two different vehicles.

My philosophy with cars is practicality and utilitarian. I realize that they are financial strains that depreciate in value the moment you sign the papers and exhale. I drive them until they drop.

My current Jeep is sitting at just over 77,000 miles and has dents and dings adorning the bumper and chassis. The interior is in great condition, my radio and speakers sound great, and I have heated leather seats. It's comfortable and fully paid off - the perfect car to park on the city streets of Boston.

At this point in my vehicle's life, I need to anticipate problems.

Case in point, Saturday night.

I was headed to a friend's poker night in Cambridge, and was instructed to bring "good beer." So I parked illegally on the side of Mass Ave (in a "spot" marked "No Parking Here to Corner") and threw on my 4-way flashers. I ran through the pouring rain into the corner store, bought a six pack, and returned to my car to learn that it would not restart.

I turned the key, the gauges flickered and freaked out a bit, and the engine would not even attempt to turn over. Immediately, I expected the worst, but figured, in the back of my mind, that my battery was dead.

Cambridge isn't super far from my home in Southie, and since I was parked somewhere that would likely get me towed, I needed to figure something out. So I called AAA for assistance.

About 40 minutes later, a tow truck showed up with another vehicle already attached, making me hope that what I needed was a jump and not a tow, which obviously would have forced me to wait a bit longer.

This would have been a scene from a horror movie if I was stranded somewhere along a dark, desolate road - driving rain, dead battery, no cell service, vulnerable passenger. But I was pretty good-to-go with my GPS, iPhone, and beer.

We got the car started, and I was on my way (nervously) back to Southie, fully expecting to stall out in the I-93 tunnel. But that never happened. I limped into a parking spot, turned the car off, and tried to restart it just to see what would happen. Dead.

Sunday morning, I employed Mike to bring my to AutoZone and help change the battery. I must admit, the process of unscrewing rusted bolts underneath a car hood that wouldn't stay open on its own (without holding it or lodging a wrench in it) was not easy. But Mike is far handier than I, even without full use of his dominant left hand (broken pinkie still healing).

My new battery looks fancy, and I'm expecting it to last me until the Jeep kicks it, whenever that happens. I'm hoping to get at least another 40,000 miles out of it, and at the rate I'm adding miles these days, that puts be in late 2013.

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