Saturday, July 11, 2009

Rushed Hours

A couple days ago I noted a delay in action when I turned the key in my car's ignition. Hmm. Odd. Over the course of two days, it became progressively worse, and Friday I was compelled to admit either the starter, alternator or battery had gone all wobbly.

I don't know why, but the week after a long holiday weekend usually feels pretty grueling to me. Maybe I rush around to fit in too much activity or something, but I felt really wrung out and was so looking forward to Friday. Instead of thoughts of a carefree weekend, however, late Friday afternoon found me crossing my fingers as I turned the moody, sputtering ignition which finally cranked to life and hied me to WalMart where a lady mechanic dropped a new battery under the hood. I then went to another place to have the alternator checked, but didn't get a definitive answer on how that is.

The battery got me home, and I expect will get me to the dealership early Saturday morning. Instead of sleeping in Saturday, I now fear oversleeping and being too late to have repairs done if they are necessary. I admit by Friday evening I was feeling a little blue over the whole thing.

Life is good and things are going well, but I am forced to admit that a great deal of my sense of well-being is intrinsically tied to my ability to get myself around, and having to ask for help, for a ride, can be frustrating. I really do appreciate that there are some great folks supporting me- both back in Dallas with car advice and here in town, having given me a ride at desperate moments. (oh yeah, I lost my keys one day a few weeks back). I think of the miles I drive to work in about 30 minutes each morning but which would have taken more like 2 hours to drive in Dallas. I pass more railcars each morning than road cars, and that suits me perfectly. This car is the nicest one I've ever had, and it suits me perfectly, too. I don't aspire to something faster or more flash-- I just want this one to go when I need it to. Don't fence me in, git along little dogies and all that stuff.


Roscoe said...

I imagine that Texas heat/humidity is comparable to Tampa if not worse since you don't have regular afternoon storms.

I get three years out of a car battery if I'm lucky. Even "premium" brands have problems taking the punishment in this kind of climate.

Shifting to a premium battery didn't seem to make a difference, but, here in Florida, for an extra charge, I can get AAA to deliver a new one if I'm stuck somewhere.

Jon said...

Heat, and cold, can be battery killers, though corroded connections are the usual culprit.

If your car has a voltmeter as one of your gauges, it should be showing around 14 volts when the engine is running. It can be higher after starting, but will generally stay a shade under 14 volts. If it's lower (12 volts, or less), the alternator is not working like it should, or there is another problem, such as a loose, or slipping belt.

My personal preference is a alternator/starter shop. Those folks usually know their business, know that you will be right back with a complaint if they don't repair it right, and will guarantee their work. The only problem is that they will only be open a part of the day on Saturday, if at all.

As far as the inconclusive answer on the shop you went to, starting and charging problems can be diagnosed in a few seconds with the right instruments. I'm hoping they sent you to the dealer because there is something they may be aware of that requires "dealer only" parts. If not, then you may want to avoid the shop in the future. While the starter may be the problem, a good battery and charging system would indicate starter problems, and this would be known within minutes.

HollyB said...

AWW, I hate it when a friend has car problems. Having ridden in LuLu many happy times, I hope she's better soon.