Or maybe the Jeep is plotting against me…

Something extremely weird happened yesterday.

Around 3 in the afternoon I loaded Tobie in the Jeep for chicken chores but we didn’t go anywhere, because the Jeep had no electrical activity of any kind. I mean capital-D Dead. It was so dead so suddenly that I didn’t immediately assume the problem was the battery. After all, everything worked just fine on Monday.

But the problem was the battery. It wasn’t just ‘dead,’ as in click-click-click goes the starter. It was dead as in may as well not be present.

It’s nearly new! This made no sense.

I went looking for an explanation and found it in what should have been the most obvious place: The headlights were turned on and apparently left on all night and all day.

Except that made no sense either! The light switch isn’t a button that could be accidentally pressed, it’s a knob on a steering column stalk that has to be twisted. I very rarely go anywhere at night, certainly didn’t Monday night, and honestly wasn’t sure at first yesterday where the light switch even was. Seriously, the column has two stalks and I never use either of them: The windshield wipers haven’t worked in years, and to whom would I signal a turn? It’s so unlikely that the light switch would accidentally get turned on that the most plausible explanation I can come up with is that somebody snuck into my yard and turned it on deliberately.

No, I’m not really suggesting that’s a plausible explanation. Just saying. It’s a weird thing to happen.

And for a while I thought I was really in trouble, because when I hooked up my Battery Minder I got a red light, like “forget it.” And I don’t have a regular battery charger anymore. I seriously had plans to ride my ebike all the way to town today to buy one. But I left the BM on overnight anyway, and fortunately it did charge the battery – though the battery is undoubtedly damaged.

So I’m good, but what a very strange thing to have happen.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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17 Responses to Or maybe the Jeep is plotting against me…

  1. Klaus says:

    I hate shit like that when there’s no possible rational explanation.It’s probably that crazy chick that tried to pick you up.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Good one Klaus!

  3. boynsea says:

    A good reason to park the Jeep so the headlights are aimed at a window.
    Klaus may be right.

  4. Malatrope says:

    Was Tobie in the Jeep yesterday? He could have turned the lights on by rubbing on the stalk. I realize it’s easy to blame “somebody”, but I’ve discovered so many times that I did a thing myself after blaming “trespassing interloping thief assholes” that I’m careful about jumping to conclusions anymore.

  5. W Wilson says:

    My wife’s car did the same thing. I charged it ,run a day and died again. I think when they are ready to die, they get killed easily by leaving lights on.

  6. Zendo Deb says:

    That’s why they come with warranties. Sometimes they die young. And when a cell shorts, they are gone.

  7. Zendo Deb says:

    Or there may be an electrical problem causing a power drain. Those are impossible to find. (Pull one fuse at a time until you figure out which circuit and then start from there.)

  8. Terrapod says:

    Mystery battery drains are usually related to light bulbs being on and you don’t know it. I know you say the stalk switch was on for headlights, that could have just been a subconscious thing when last used, but just in case, also check brake light switch and if there is one, the glove box lamp switch.

    I would not give up on the battery just yet, take it in to where they can give it a hefty boost charge and see if it revives. As you say, if it s a recent battery and is dead dead, take the receipt back with it to see if they pro- rate value or just hand you a new one.

    Also, if you have one of those hand size jumper packs, use it to start the car then lit the battery charge.

  9. Robert says:

    Gremlins. Little sneaky bahstids.
    Had my car serviced by the dealership; part of the deal is to load-test the battery, it was “good”. Drove car home. Next day drove 25 miles to work. Went to grocery store 1.5 miles away after work. Came out to a dead battery. Sigh. Those little jumper packs have amazing energy density. Got a new battery within an hour. A credit card can be your friend.

  10. Malatrope says:

    Given some of the comments here, I want to remind people that lead-acid batteries are seriously damaged by complete and total discharge. Four or five times will completely destroy a brand-new battery.

    They are called “starter batteries” for a reason. They are not intended to be deeply discharged (less than 50%). The lead in a starter battery is almost a foam, to maximize surface area in order to get high amperage currents. A “deep cycle” battery has solid, and thicker, anodes and cathodes, allowing them to discharge more completely but at a lower current (still, keep these above 80% discharged). To get three or four years out of a starter battery, keep them in the 90% – 100% charged range.

    I will spare y’all a long dissertation about how to figure out how discharged a lead-acid battery actually is. It depends on charge or discharge rate, temperature, and how long it has been “at rest”. The specific gravity is comically inaccurate here, though it’s very good at determining variation among cells.

    Just keep in mind: if your wife leaves the headlights on several times in a row, you’ll need a new battery.

  11. Robert says:

    The battery in my previous car died the same day I got the five-year car loan final payment coupon in the mail. My current car’s battery (the one that load-tested “good” the day before it died) also made it to the five-year mark. I figure I’m not abusing my batteries but I still have jumper cables and a jumper pack and a solar panel in the car. If I hafta use the solar panel to charge the battery, it’ll be after SHTF and I won’t have a job left to go to anyway so I won’t be in a hurry.

  12. Tony says:

    The most surprising thing in this story is how surprising it was to Joel to find a completely dead battery. My Jeep eats those things for breakfast. (And no, I don’t leave the lights on. There are completely random electrical gremlins in that thing that will occasionally just decide to go to town on the battery with no rhyme or reason.)

  13. Tree Mike says:

    Tony, he was surprised because his gremlins are either lazy or better behaved. Also, being in that part of the country, Jeep is pronounced heap. It’s a Mexican thing. Tree Mike, refugee from So. Cal., not a missionary.

  14. Robert says:

    What caliber for gremlins? Tree Mike: if “jeep” is pronounced “heap”, how is “knee” pronounced? 🙂 Anyone remember the name of the now-prohibited stand-up comedian whose catch phrase was “Lady and Hentelmen”? Dana Somebody?

  15. Mark says:

    I echo Tony’s comments.

    Had a grand Cherokee. Electric buffoonery galore.

    No mo jeeps 4 me

  16. Jean says:

    Did Chrysler ever buy Lucas “GOD OF DARKNESS” Electrics? Just curious.

  17. Robert says:

    Jean: Dunno about Chrysler, but when I had to replace the electric pump for the windshield washer fluid in my Buick Skyhawk, the auto parts store sold me one made by the Lord of Darkness. It didn’t work. The parts guy just shrugged and told me to keep coming back until I got a good one. Took three tries. He said that was normal. I wasn’t surprised as I usta drive a Brit sports car cursed by Lucas.

To the stake with the heretic!