Monday, February 26, 2007


My truck is 12 years old and 30 miles shy of 100K. It still looks nice. It still seems to drive okay, especially for a 4-cylinder. It has been basic, reliable transportation for quite a while, and only the odd catalytic converter, muffler, blown gasket, etc., has kept it off the road.... until this past November. On the way home from work the battery light came on. I observed that the volt meter on my dash had dropped from its normal 15v or so to about 12v. Oops. I hypothesized that it was probably the alternator. We really didn't have the money to fix it with Christmas coming up, so it sat.

Last Sunday, my neighbor helped me out and took a look at the car. He surmised that the battery might be the issue, and took it to an auto parts store where they verified that the battery did indeed have a bad cell. I bought a new battery, and the volt meter was back up at 15v! Hooray!

Based on how much text is left in this entry, you can probably guess that new battery is not end of story.

Within a day of driving, the voltmeter dropped back to 12v and the battery light was on. I figured what the heck... I'm gonna drive it to work and see what happens. All week long the truck took me back and forth to work without issue. Even starting the truck was unchanged. My (faulty) logic was that if the battery was draining then starting should sound progressively more strained over the course of the week.

My coworker Buck invited me to go hear Scott Hahn speak. On Saturday morning I was driving out to meet Buck when things turned significantly south for the truck. The volt meter started a steady downward trend... 12v... 11v....10v.... uh, oh..... 9v. I start looking for an exit so I'm not stuck on the side of the road. Ah! Zeeb Rd. Good. As I approach, the engine RPM's to maintain speed increase, and I'm now fearful that the transmission is failing as well. I manage to nurse it into a parking lot off Zeeb Rd and give Stef a call. She comes out and charges the battery for me for a while so that I can try to nurse it home. I get as far as the freeway before it quite enthusiastically dies on me.

It was about 10am when I hit Zeeb Rd. It was about 3:00pm when the tow truck pulled up to my house. I missed the Scott Hahn thing (grumble) of which Buck gave rave reviews this morning. Sunday, neighbor Brian and I changed my alternator in the freezing rain. Well, it was more him doing the work and me squinting and handing him tools, but I learned a fair bit. We took the old alternator to the auto parts store to make sure it was bad, and it failed all the tests... whew. If it had passed we would have been quite puzzled.

But now, drum roll please, the truck is really fixed! I have my wheels again!

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