Ruby & the case of the oddly draining battery

Ol’Rubes is getting long in the tooth. At least for a truck she is. So maybe it is her age that is to blame for her inability to remain consistently charged for more than a few days. Ben, my brother-in-law, thinks it might be the poorly installed, non-factory radio. Or it might be that I never go anywhere consistently enough. We’re not sure exactly what the cause is, what we do know is that twice in the past two weeks Ruby has refused to start due to some sort of mysterious power issues.

Ironically, it’s driving me right up the wall. And in another ironic twist this angry hermit never wants to leave the house so much as when she can’t. Thankfully, my brother-in-law is close by and willing to come to my rescue. I’m also thankful that the Chicken Fingers (it’s what I call my writing group) are tolerant and patient and probably only said a few bad things about me missing our meeting tonight even though it was my turn to be critiqued.

Even with all the patience and willingness to help, I still feel rotten. Car problems make me have to face my worst anxieties all at once — having to ask for help, being a burden on other people, a sudden loss of independence, and utter, total, and complete helplessness.

Bah! It sucks, and I like to believe that everyone feels this crappy when their car is broken. Right? Right?

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8 Comments

  1. Tony 15.Feb.11 at 10:18 pm

    Bad alternator?

    Reply
  2. Jodi 15.Feb.11 at 10:20 pm

    No, it’s not the alternator. I forgot why we know it isn’t, but Ben checked something and there’s a charge somewhere (this is why I’m bad with cars)

    I insist it’s the starter, but Ben who used to do all kinds of electronic and mechanical work before he got a cushy desk job, says it’s not.

    Maybe Ruby is haunted and/or has vehicular Alzheimer’s.

    Reply
  3. Natalie L. 15.Feb.11 at 10:30 pm

    I was in a really bad accident last summer and was without my beloved car for a month. It was awful. And then, a month ago, my car broke down–due to undiscovered damage from the accident–and I was without her for a week while insurance dithered over whether they were going to pay for the repair or not (so glad the accident was not my fault). It really really really sucked.

    All that to say: I totally get why you’re cranky and out of sorts when Ruby doesn’t work because I get exactly the same way when Vera Marie doesn’t work.

    Reply
    1. Jodi 15.Feb.11 at 10:31 pm

      @Natalie L.,
      That makes me feel so much better. I don’t know what I’d do if I had to go a month without Rubes. I had an accident a few years ago and was without her for a week and I very nearly catatonic.

      Reply
  4. NBFB 17.Feb.11 at 1:42 pm

    Alternator would have been my first guess too. But since that is ruled out… the next most likely cause is something electrical that is sucking power when the car isn’t running. As in, there’s a short somewhere or something you’re not noticing is left turned on.

    Could be the radio or any number of things – dome light staying on (and maybe it got bumped, if your dome has a dimmer switch it could be set really low that one wouldn’t notice it).

    Do you leave any chargers (ipod, phone, etc.) plugged into sockets when they are not in use? That could be causing it. Those things draw power when plugged in to a source, even when the device to be charged is not connected.

    Reply
  5. NBFB 17.Feb.11 at 1:43 pm

    And I forgot to mention – if the battery is older than 3 years, it could just be that. Lots of batteries have 5 year warranties. But my experience has been that MN winters aren’t typical use.

    Reply
    1. Jodi 17.Feb.11 at 1:45 pm

      @NBFB,
      That battery’s about a year old. He put one in around this time last year. I’m gonna check the dome light. That might be something. It also might be the radio, because I don’t keep any chargers plugged in anywhere.

      Reply
      1. david 20.Feb.11 at 8:10 am

        @Jodi, I would agree with Ben. We had similar problems in our older pickup, and it turned out to be the radio installation (we had a new one put in after the old one was stolen).

        We had the wiring traced and repaired a couple of ago, and are still driving the truck.

        Reply

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