In this dark, wet cold weather we’ve been having, I feel like I could use a jump start in the morning too.
When that A-body was new, 15″ wheels were considered big and most cars came with 14s, some with 13s. You had to get down to 12″ wheels before people considered them ‘not real cars’. And longer, lower and wider was still the ideal.
The Escape on the other hand shows the result of growing incrementally in several dimensions at once. Taller, more ground clearance, 17″ wheels standard. It’s still a compact vehicle and has similar space inside, but it looks like a 7-passenger van next to the A-body.
And that’s the stripped, FWD-only base trim level of the Escape.
The FWD A bodies were a continuation of GM’s downsizing, which started with 1977 B bodies. And IMHO, I don’t think of these as “longer, lower, wider” examples. They had upright seating, with lots of window space.
More like the current Malibu that is “lower”, with low roofs, that are getting buyers to get a “tall car”, which to some is what most CUV’s really are.
The real reason for snow days
Let’s hope the owner left the lights on, and just needs a jump to restore a low charge.
When I was younger, poorer and less knowledgeable about charging systems, I often used jumper cables to mask a bigger problem- Facing a marginal battery, corroded battery connections, or frayed battery cables, I’d get going with a quick boost, only to find myself looking for another one an hour, day, or week later…
Back then, small gauge jumper cables and crappy clamp jaws added to the problem, but at least the under-hood battery terminals were front and center. Nowadays, they tend to be buried under engine covers or air intakes, and the terminals may include a bulky battery sensor wrapped around the post blocking the cable clamps.
Bottom line, I’m glad I have the resources and skills to avoid this scene, and if I happen to run a battery down, hopefully it’s at home so I can take one of my other cars and deal with it when I get back.
I’d check to make sure the trunk light shuts off when the trunk’s closed too.
I would bet that when a battery dies in your mild SoCal weather, it is really and truly dead (or something else is really wrong). Here in the frosty northern climes, a battery that will start your car on 359 days a year will fail on those few really, really cold mornings.
I spent about twenty years driving in Colorado, so I’ve battled startign issues when the temp drops below zero. I worry far less about battery failure here in SoCal-
The last battery I installed in our Miata lasted about ten years, thanks to the mild climate. The battery is not much bigger than a motorcycle battery, and Mazda mounts it in the trunk (adding to the cable length), so it probably lasts about two winters back in snow country.
Happy that I treated the Jetta to a new battery last week. Think I’ll hang out at home anyways, for now.
Speaking of battery jumps… I have carried a JNC660 battery booster in my truck (and earlier PT Cruiser) for about 9 years – maybe 10. It still works well but needs a charge more frequently to keep it at ~13 volts. So I have upgraded to a JNC770, same power but now with an on and off switch which I like better than the always-on older model.
Much easier than cables and there’s no issue with maneuvering the donor vehicle into position or slipping and sliding in the snow and mud, carrying the hot red or the need-to-go-to-ground black.
As for the old 660, it’s in the Miata’s trunk.
And, like the Miata’s absorbed glass mat battery, the JNC can be ordered online and shipped via ground.
My own personal cold morning jump start is keyed to the 62 degree temperature in my bedroom. Throwing off the covers motivates one to move with great alacrity.
I keep a NOCO GB40 1000A jump start box in each of my cars. I got them on sale from Batteries Plus a few years ago.
They take about 2 hours to fully charge and stay charged for about 6 months and they are compact and sit in the corner of my trunk(out of the way)
“My own personal cold morning jump start is keyed to the 62 degree temperature in my bedroom.”
I recently encountered low temperatures in the bedroom as well. A couple quick checks determined the electronic thermostat required new batteries (see pic).
I was rather vexed that the thermostat required batteries to function- The furnace control system supplies the T-Stat with DC power, so I’m thinking the circuit could function off that power, and use the batteries to maintain system memory during power outages.
Ma has been having trouble keeping the battery charged in her ’96 Ciera (which I bought new as a 20 year old college student). She doesn’t drive enough to keep it charged and then does not really notice if she’s left the inside lights on. This causes tremendous conniptions, and she thinks that she needs a new car and it’s everyone else’s fault. The battery is oddly difficult to access on these cars as are the charging posts.
Speaking of my days as a service advisor, nothing was harder to sell than a battery. At the risk of sounding sexist, selling a battery to a woman was almost impossible if the car had started that morning.
As soon as the November rains come and the defoggers get turned on (and heated seats, now) that battery is going to fail.
I remember one lady quite vividly. She came in for our maintenance special and was told she need a new battery. She didn’t trust us and refused to buy it.
The very next day it turned cold and she called, “My car won’t start.” My reply was, “Well, that is because it needs a new battery.” She then demanded that I, personally, come to her West Vancouver mansion to install a battery.
I said I would call a tow truck. I didn’t tell her BCAA is the best place to call if you need a battery replaced ASAP. So we go the tow truck and in came the Grand Cherokee.
We were busy that day she had to wait. The entire time she stared, glared and glowered at me. After two hours, she got the $300 bill for a tow and a battery.
She then made such a scene we had to call the police. Being West Vancouver, they did nothing. The even crazier part is she kept bringing her car to us for service. An old Grand Cherokee is going to need a lot of money to keep it running.
I am obsessed with changing out batteries, in fact. I replace them at five years, regardless of their condition. Sure, I could probably eke a year or two more out of it, but what is it going to cost me if my car won’t start on the way to meet a client.
Batteries are cheap, like $150 cheap and easy to replace yourself.
Having had my share of that vintage of GM, my bet is that the door button that actually triggers the ding that alerts one to having left the headlights on has failed. My Riviera’s had failed, and between the digital dash and the automatic headlights that weren’t quite clever enough to come on in the rain, I ran into this same situation enough times I bought the best set of jumper cables I could find.
I replaced the battery in my 1976 Dodge Aspen at eight years, just because, not due to any starting issues. Replaced it with a Sears DieHard. Two days later I drove to the airport, parked it and flew away for a day. Got back that night and the car was totally dead. The new battery was open-circuit, a intercell connector had cracked or otherwise failed.
Shortest-lived battery I’ve ever had!
I try to avoid battery issues, on my infrequently driven truck and my boat when its at the lake. A small PV panel trickle charger hooked to the battery and left on the dash works like a charm. Nothing worse than a dead or near dead battery when you need the thing to work.
BTW, the story of the West Van lady was priceless. Knowing the area well, having grown up there, that story, as well as the local “police”, caused many a vivid memory to pop up. Now, with meds, God willing, they will go away again!
Me, last week.
It happens when you’re livin’ the old car life
Hmm, a second red Grand Prix. Do you need to change your id on here to “Man of Many Wagons”? 🙂
Agreed!!!! Where’s the COAL on that one?????
I had to replace the 6V battery in my 1950 Ford 8N last season, it was a bit over five years old and sees severe (as in bouncy-jouncy) service.
Can’t remember the last time I had to jump-start one of our vehicles.
Of course, now that I say that…
My car has a huge battery mounted where its accessable, handy last Sunday while at a mates place his neighbour required a jump start of his Cefiro, I’m dreading the day I have to replace it. The suspension is always active and a diesel engine so lots of capacity and CCA required.
Just a couple of weeks ago I got a call from my daughter. She had been visiting someone for the evening and she came out to a dead battery in the Civic.
Me: “Did you leave the lights on?”
She: “No, I turned them . . . I guess I did.”
It started right up and reminded me that those jumper cables with the 6 gauge cable that I bought at Sears in the early 80s were one of the best purchases I ever made.
I was pretty sure the battery still had plenty of life in it. About a week later in bitter cold temps (something like -12 F) she texted me and asked if 5 or 6 seconds for the car to start was a sign of a weak battery. I could barely contain my laughter, and replied that this was the sign of a GREAT battery.
What nice timing.
A fresh new battery for my daily driver awaits installation now that temperatures are dropping again. With a little luck I will find the motivation to put it in before the forecasted snow storm arrives. The old one, which has been in service for 6 years, struggled a bit during the last cold snap, and it starts the car with a bit less alacrity than I would like even on warmer days.
The old trucks get used batteries, from junkyards or craigslist sellers. These tend not to last very long, but the price is right, and, with no core charge, I get a few dollars back at the scrap metal dealer when their time comes.
I replace my car batteries every 4 to 5 years.
If i am letting a car sit for more then 2 days, i bring out my Sunforce solar trickle charger. This plugs into my OBDII port and keeps the battery topped off. It will not rescue a bad or dying battery but will help a healthy one
My DD car is a 2016 model, I will be looking to replace the battery in the summer of 2020. At least I won’t have to dig around in some weird place like behind the wheel for the thing.
The 6V battery in my ’66 Bug had to be replaced every two years and Interstate wouldn’t include a warranty with it. They were the only local source for them.
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