Batteries and Automotive Know-how

I have some knowledge of cars, especially the ones I drive.  I am NOT however an accomplished mechanic.    I admire and appreciate people who have a certain knack with mechanical items.  I do have some ability with computers and electronics, so I know the joy of just kind of putting your hands on something and having it start to work again.  As I mentioned, that is not my normal experience with cars however.

This morning my 2005 model sedan would not start.   It gave the normal indications of a battery out of charge — clicking from the starter, low light power.    Since the battery is also 5 years old, although I could have tried to jump it from my Wife’s Prius, that battery had served a good long life and deserved to go to recycling with dignity.  So instead I borrowed the Prius (30 minute timer if I was to avoid impacting my Wife’s breakfast meeting), and headed to Pep Boys.

Now, I could have called my local dealer Crest Cadillac and they would have come over and taken care of the whole thing.  I like to be at least minimally self sufficient where I can however.  Pulling the battery out, several blocks over to the auto parts store, turn in old battery, get new battery, and slot it back into the car took under 30 min.  My Wife had her car back in plenty of time for her meeting, and I was off to work more or less still on schedule.

Now it is entirely possible that there is some other issue, say a power short or drain, that cause the problem and it was not just an issue with the old battery.  I am usually an advocate of determining the actual problem and not just throwing parts at an issue.  The proper diagnosis in this case would be to charge up the old battery, and load test it.  If it won’t take or hold a charge, then it is verified bad and needs replacement.  If it will take a charge and hold it under load, then the problem is not in the battery but in some drain.

Realistically however, after 5 years it is a reasonable bet that the battery itself is the problem, and popping in a new unit got me down the road this morning.  If it gives more trouble then it can go to Crest for diagnosis.

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