I remember the days when automobiles were often a bit slow to start, even requiring several tries before getting them going. My 2018 Honda CR-V (and most relatively new cars) start almost instantly when the Start button is pressed.
A few days ago, the car started with perhaps half a second additional delay, and that delay began growing with each trip. When I went to the usual Friday wine tasting at the local liquor store Friday, I worried about my ability to start the car for the return home. In fact, the car started, but the delay had become really worrisome.
At that point, I concluded that I probably needed to replace the car battery, but late on the Friday of a long Labor Day weekend was not an opportune time to be seeking auto service. I did get home, however, and I left the car out of the garage for easy access to the engine compartment.
I had recently received e-mail from AAA promoting their battery service and decided that AAA was my best option to get a new battery—if indeed I needed one—and to assure that I could reliably drive to and from church on Sunday.
The AAA message included a link to a Web page where I could fill in information about my car, since different cars need different batteries. On Saturday morning, I followed this link. Oddly—very oddly indeed—the page would not let me actually enter any information at all! I switched to my phone and encountered the same problem. For plan C, I opened the AAA app on my phone. There was no provision for requesting road service specifically for a battery problem, so I was careful to enter the information I knew would be needed from the defective Web page.
In about an hour, a small AAA van labeled for battery service showed up. I expressed my surprise that a tow truck was not sent. The technician, Michael, explained that his vehicle uses less gas than a tow truck, an important consideration in this time of high gas prices. That made perfect sense, though, ironically, Michael left the van running the entire time he was servicing my car!
Michael made a quick check of the battery with a meter and asked me to try to start the car. It did actually start, but he concluded that the battery indeed needed replacement. He placed some device inside the car—I realized later that this was to power such devices as the radio so as to preserve custom settings—and proceeded to remove the old battery and to swap in the new one. The process was quick, as Michael had specialized tools to make the job easier.
It was not long before the job was done and I was asked to start the car. It turned over instantly. I was advised to let it run for a few minutes before turning it off. Michael packed up and left, though not before I wrote him a check for the new battery. I had planned to pay by credit card but was told there would be a 4% additional charge for using a credit card. This was the second time in a fortnight that I paid for a repair by check to avoid a surcharge. Have these now become common?
A bit later Saturday morning, I started the car again to make a quick trip to the farmers’ market. Immediately, the instrument panel displayed warning lights I was unused to seeing and showing various messages about car functions that were not working. I experience a moment of panic and regret that I let Michael get away before I had assured myself that that car was fully restored to its normal state.
The infotainment system displayed the Honda logo. This was not normal either, but I remembered how to reboot the system. The reboot seemed to work fine. My discomfort was not relieved, however, when my attempt to recalibrate the tire pressure sensors—they were the subject of one of the warning messages—failed. I decided to just sit and wait for a while. Sure enough, systems slowly began coming online. After a time, everything looked normal, though I did need to change the radio to the NPR station I most frequently listen to. My trip to the farmers’ market and later to the liquor store for another wine tasting seemed completely normal.
This morning (Sunday), I found the driver’s side door unlocked when I went to open it. This was not normal, as the car generally locks itself when I walk away and only unlocks when someone with the proper key fob touches the special spot on the door handle. Although I had earlier checked many settings for the car, usually choosing the defaults, turning on the automatic locking feature was apparently not a default setting. It took me a bit of hunting around to find the screen on which to restore the feature. I finally accomplished the change, and the car now seems to work like it did before the new battery was installed.
If you have a late-model car with lots of fancy features, be warned that replacing your battery may be a more troublesome activity than you might have expected.
|The new battery