Morton Fox (mortonfox) wrote,
Morton Fox

The Battery and Radiator Story

The story started Wednesday evening. After leaving work, I made two stops for geocaches, one at the warehouse club, and a fourth stop just outside the local Staples to use the wi-fi network to order pizza. Then I went into Staples to do some shopping. When I got back to the car, it wouldn't start. First, it indicated that the transmission wasn't in park even though it was. I shifted the transmission, shifted it back, and tried again. That didn't work and the indicator lights started to dim. I called the service department and the technician who answered suggested to put the transmission into neutral. That didn't work and this time, all the indicator lights went out except for a "check engine" light. So he suggested a jump-start and if that didn't work, the car would have to be towed in for service.

I called AAA for a tow truck. At that point, I was debating to myself whether to cancel the pizza order since I may not be able to pick it up that evening. But I decided to wait and see. After about 40 minutes, the tow truck came by. The tow truck operator did the jump start and that worked. He noted that there was corrosion on the battery terminals but it also seemed to me that the battery was bad. What's surprising is the car had a multipoint inspection just a week before and the battery was good then. So I went to pick up the pizza. I left the engine running because I knew I wouldn't be able to start it again, but I used a steering wheel lock to hopefully prevent a carjacking. Then I went to an auto parts store to buy a jumpstart kit. (which I really should have had in the car all along. I used to have one but it reached the end of its life and I neglected to get a replacement.) Again I left the engine running while I went in to buy the item. (It's convenient having several auto parts stores near home!) And finally, I went home, satisfied that I had everything I needed for the next day.

On Thursday morning, the car started up just fine! That was puzzling. I took the car in for service anyway. They replaced the battery and battery terminals. As I was about the drive off, I noticed that the "check engine" light was still on. That seemed sloppy and wrong, so I called it to their attention and they took the car back to reset the indicator. However, they also found a radiator leak. (I have noticed water on my driveway before but I thought it was just condensation.) Changing the radiator and hoses was a more expensive and longer repair so I had to get a loaner car for Thursday and Friday.

I didn't go anywhere other than to work on Thursday and Friday because I haven't had good experience with loaner cars. This particular one, a Corolla LE, was a bit cramped (bumped my head and knee when I got in) and underpowered (hard to merge into I-95 traffic) too, but was incredibly stable when cornering. It also seemed fuel efficient, although I hadn't driven it far enough to get a good average MPG. On Friday afternoon, my car was finally ready for pickup and I got it back that evening. Anyway, although it's been a messy few days, I'm glad I caught those problems here and now instead of while I'm away in Connecticut for Furfright, for example.
Tags: automotive

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