What do you do if your car’s battery dies without warning? Several years ago I made an unexpected trip to Silicon Valley to help my daughter move from there to Phoenix. On the way back, with a truck full of boxes and a car (also full of boxes) on a U-Haul auto transport, we stopped for dinner. When I tried to start the truck afterward, nothing happened. The lights would go on, but there wasn’t enough oomph left to turn the engine over. It wouldn’t even click the solenoid. There hadn’t been any warning at all that the battery was about to die – no slow starting, no low-voltage light, nothing. Fortunately, I carry jumper cables and there were others in the parking lot who were willing to lend me their battery. With their help, I got the truck started and we continued on our way – until I needed gas.
Habits, as you well know, are hard to break, and so I pulled into a gas station and turned off the engine. As *soon* as I clicked the key to “off” I knew what I had done, and I turned it back to “run” immediately, but I was too late. The engine was off – again – and would stay that way until another Samaritan came along. Which, fortunately, didn’t take long.
After that little episode, I decided that it would be better to drive straight through from wherever-we-were to Phoenix, so that’s what we did, only stopping for gas (and making sure not to turn off the engine!). When we got to Phoenix, I had my daughter back her car off the trailer so we could use it for a jump start, and then we checked into a motel for what was left of the night.
Knowing that I’m going to be covering more than 8,000 miles this summer, and not wanting to repeat the dead-battery incident, I was very happy to find a gee-whiz little idea that fits right into the category of “things I didn’t know I needed but now I won’t be without.” (It also fits into the category of “things you carry for insurance but hope you’ll never have to use.”) It’s a lithium-ion battery package called Micro-Start, it’s made by Antigravity Batteries, and you can get more information about it here: http://shop.antigravitybatteries.com/micro-start-xp-1/
The whole shebang comes in a zippered faux-leather case that’s about 10″ x 7″ x 2″, so it’s easy to throw under a seat, in a console, or in your trunk. The actual battery is only about 6″ x 3″ x 1″, but being a lithium-ion battery, it’s supposed to pack a punch strong enough to start even a truck-sized V8 gas engine. The package also comes with lots of adapters so you can charge (or run) your laptop, iPad, iPod, smartphone, and who knows what-all else. And you can recharge *it* from your car’s power port or at home. Just top it off once or twice a year (and after you use it, of course) and you’re good to go.
Ironically, after I bought this I took the truck in for preventive maintenance (oil change, fluid-level check, electrical systems check, etc.) and they told me that the battery I bought to replace the one that died on the way back from California was itself on its last legs. So now I have a brand-new battery *plus* my “insurance policy.” But even if I don’t need it for my own rescue, it’s a lot easier to work with if I need to help someone else. It’s safer, too, because I don’t have to worry about cross-connecting the cables, and I don’t have to worry about sparks.
And safety is always a good thing.
Oh geez. That was a bad thing, too. I didn’t remember filling up again after that 2nd time the battery died. I’m sure that we did… Love you, dad!
I think we needed gas not too long after dinner, which was still well north of Los Angeles. The second fuel stop was somewhere near Palm Springs, if I remember correctly.
Pingback: Act Two: The Birthday Trip | The Peripatetic Traveler