Monday, October 03, 2011

That's the sound a starter motor makes when the battery can't deliver enough current to make it turn and the starter solenoid pops in and out. It's a sure sign of a dead battery or a charging system malfunction.

Yesterday, I noticed the interior dome light was yellowish as the car started. Sure, I knew the battery was going bad and would have to be replaced soon, but I was hoping to get through the next day or two since there's much to be done today. Wishful thinking on my part.

I've been painting the living room and it was down to a routine. Climb up the ladder. Paint. Climb down. Move the ladder and climb up again. Repeat endlessly. I tried to watch the Steelers as they lost to Houston, and occasionally shouted at the television from atop the ladder. Two more rules of thumb occurred to me. First, don't wave your arms around while holding a paint brush. Second, don't wave your arms around while standing on a ladder.

All that up and down stuff did a number on my legs. I'm careful about climbing with my bad knee and I always follow the rule I learned from a physical therapist a very long time ago - the good goes up and the bad goes down. It applies equally to stairs, curbs, and ladders. As for the evangelical implications, well, you're on your own. Step up with the good leg, but step down with the bad one. That way the good leg is controlling the motion.

By the end of the afternoon both legs were little more than chunks of wood. I took some aspirin and had a shower. I actually looked forward to returning to work in the morning because it's physically easier than painting. Besides, my crew chief brought in three fresh computers for modifications, meaning I'll be busy all week. It makes the time go quickly.

But in the pre-dawn darkness this morning, my stomach sank when all I could get from the car was that dreaded "" Putting the charger on the battery didn't help. I called my friend Wade for a ride to the auto parts store and set about taking the battery out.

Pontiac has an anti-theft device in the radio that is supposed to disable the radio if the power is removed. It gets a code from the car's computer somehow, and if that code is blanked - say, if the radio is stolen - the unit won't work. I learned this the hard way when Number One Daughter's battery died in her car. Our local GM dealer and full-time pirate, wanted $85 to reinstall the code. I pointed out that I could replace the radio with an after market unit for the same price. I had some unkind thoughts about what he could do with that parrot on his shoulder, too.

My own radio was secondary this morning. I had to get the car working again because there are a couple of errands that must be done this afternoon, including a trip to downtown Tulsa. So with Wade's help and a nice check in the hands of the friendly guy at the auto parts store, my car now has a spankin' new battery. I lost only a few pieces of skin and very little blood.

But I've been pondering this question all morning. Whatever happened to those $49.95 car batteries? This new one was more than twice that amount. I turned in the old one to avoid a core charge. That ensures the lead is recycled, right? Basically, then, I'm buying those same lead plates over and over every time I replace a battery! Maybe I can get a better price if I charge them for using MY lead.


Blogger lemmiwinks said...

Price of lead (and copper and many other commodities) has gone up a staggering amount (it might have settled down now). So much so that only a couple of years ago thieves were stealing the lead off church roofs in England.

It's the commodities boom, Ed. Ask any media pundit or mining company representative down here in Australia, it can never end! We'll go on digging holes, inflating the value of house prices, selling raw materials to China, letting them add value and buying the finished product back.

Apparently our mineral resources are, if you believe the spin, inexhaustible. Likewise China's appetite for them.

4:17 PM  

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