Friday, September 26, 2008

AAA Saves the Day - Followed by my Bro-in-law

Early this month I was a little worried about my car. Every time I started it, it seemed a little sluggish turning over. So when I had the car in for a tire repair, I had the mechanic check it out. They said the battery and alternator were fine. And I believed them.

Then we had our three boys on a small roadtrip and when we stopped for a bathroom break... You guessed it - the car wouldn't start. We were at a gas station, at a casino, on an Indian reservation, in the middle of nowhere. But we have AAA and they were amazingly quick - getting there in less than 30 minutes. The jumped/recharged our battery and we were on our way.

The next morning I called my mechanics and complained a little. And they were a bit snarky. I think the guy said they don't have a crystal ball and don't know when my battery will die. Nice. Then they quoted me $130 for a new one. Installed.

I ran down to Auto Zone and the nice man there carried the battery to my car, after charging me only $80. My husband asked me why I didn't show a little more skin and get them to install it for me. I figured if the three little boys in tow didn't make them feel sorry for me, a little skin wouldn't have helped. And I admit, I was a little excited for a Do It Herself project.

Let me start by saying - this might not be a project everyone can do themselves. Or want to. First thing to do is pop your hood and see where your battery is located. If it at all hard to access, just take it in. Mine was right at the front, with nothing on top of it. Second, check your owners manual to see if there are any instructions about changing the battery. Mine didn't have anything. It had all the instructions for changing a bulb in your headlight, which I did earlier this year. But nothing on the battery.

However, I am brimming with confidence and started right in. It's easy to loosen the connections and pull them off. You just need a socket wrench of the right size. Then the entire connection lifts off. See the pictures below. But that battery - not so easy to pull off. Batteries are really heavy. And actually. Sometimes they are connected to the frame of your car. Too bad my owners manual couldn't have told me that. But eventually I found the screw that clamped that sucker down. And couldn't loosen it. I needed a socket wrench, which I had - but I couldn't fit it in the small space.

And so my brother-in-law came to the rescue! He has a long extension for his socket wrench (must get one of those!) and that screw came right off. I was glad he was here though, because like I said, those batteries are heavy. But the actual detaching and reattaching the battery to the terminals was well within my scope.

Here is Uncle Stephen with his socket wrench extension. Thanks for your help! He even did much of the dirty work for me after that, although I could have done it myself. But someone had to take the pictures. My new battery came with some goo that we used to clean the terminals. And Stephen smeared it all over the connections once we were reconnected. It's just to help protect them from battery acid. That's why the old ones were all red and gross.

So, if you have a socket set with a long extension, really strong fingers and arms, and roomy access to the battery, then you can change a car battery yourself. If any of those things are lacking, you might want to get some help. And thanks to my helpers, I saved $50. And it took less than an hour. Not bad for a Do It Herself (with help) project.

This was also a Tackle It Tuesday project and is linked up here.


Jane @ What About Mom? said...

Awesome photos and instructions. And -- you get to spend the $50 on something for yourself, right?

Your Do It Herself features would be so perfect for someone who is not completely, 100% mechanically-challenged.

I mean, I could probably even do it if I had a LARGE Mountain Dew at the ready, and your helpful diagrams.

Becky said...

Great job. Those guys at Auto Zone are usually great--but I would hire you any day!

Robyn said...

Pretty cool Tara! Next time you'll definitely be able to do it yourself! I love working on my car!

Heart of Wisdom said...

Really Awesome Post!

Good Job MOM!

Come by and see me!!!!

I have two blog post this Tuesday.
Photos of our typical morning on my personal blog at

and an explanation of Changes at my homeschool blog