I got in to my car yesterday, excited that I was somewhat early for work…which in my line of work means I can leave that much earlier. I put in the key and turned it. Nothing. The battery was completely dead. I did have early warning signs of impending trouble though. The day before…when I got in to the car to go home…the car was very sluggish to start. The thought of getting a new battery did cross my mind at that time…but I thought it would be best to just wait until I had the time to deal with it. There were even earlier earning signs. My transmission was shifting erratically about 2 weeks before the battery died, and I spent money getting it checked out and flushed. Now I have come to learn that it is a well-documented fact that today’s electronically controlled transmissions can have issues if your battery is weak.
I have AAA, and even though I could have gotten my neighbor(s) to jump start me, I decided to call them to have them come out. What’s the point of having AAA if you never use it, right? So I was told that the AAA guy would be out in 60-90 minutes because he was running behind. Great. Same bogus line they told me back in ’95 when I needed the same service.
After the AAA guy jumped my car, I was off and running to Sears…since I purchased a Diehard exactly 2 years and 1 month earlier…I knew that the battery was under warranty. Sears was gracious enough to not argue with me about replacing it, but they took their time doing it. By noon I was at work.
The lesson learned in this debacle is to not forget your battery. If you live in a consistently hot state, you should go get a new one every 2 years. If not, every 3 years. Here are some warning signs I have compiled that will indicate to you that your battery is on its last leg…
- Sluggish starts
- Delayed start
- Difficulty getting radio stations to come in clearly or a lot of static
- rough idle (weak battery affecting ECU)
- poor gas mileage (weak battery affecting ECU)
- transmission anomalies (weak battery affecting TCU)
- dim headlamps or inside lamps
Something the battery guy at Sears told me was that excessive idling (which I have been doing) drains the battery…you see, when the engine is running, the alternator first starts recharging the power lost from the battery from when you started the car. After the battery is charged, the voltage regulator kicks in to stop the charging and the alternator becomes the exclusive supplier of power to the car’s accesories and components. If you idle the car, the battery provides the charge and not the alternator..though the alternator will continue to charge at idle on some models. Idling the car is also not good for periods of time exceeding 30 seconds…for every two minutes of idling you end up using the same amount of fuel it would take to go one mile. So all you people out there that think you can start the car and have it idle while listening to the radio are actually draining the battery.