Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cool Story Bro: The Insane Car Alternator

Pop the Clutch!!!

Catch the foxes for us- the little foxes that ruin the vineyards- for our vineyards are in bloom. Song of Solomon 2:15

In the middle of last week my car's battery warning light started sporadically blinking. Concern set in because we sold our other much newer car a week earlier. A quick look into my '94 Toyota Corolla owners manual told me the alternator was going bad. This wasn't a terrible repair. It was something I could do myself, and it wouldn't drain our emergency fund too much.

Everything seemed to be running fine for a couple of days. But being the responsible man I thought I'd pick up a replacement alternator from Advanced Auto before I actually needed it. I'd change it when I got the time. The time came sooner than I had imagined. When I tried to leave Advanced Auto my car wouldn't crank. The battery was dead and the alternator was finished.

The gracious employees at Advanced quick charged my battery. I was able to use battery power to drive to the church. Once there I proceeded to change the alternator. It wasn't too tough... except one tiny little plastic plug that connected the alternator to the engine was old and brittle. I tugged and eventually broke the outer shell, but at least the alternator unplugged. No harm done.The little piece looked insignificant enough... I just let it go and installed the new alternator.

That Helicopter was dropping thousands of eggs. It was awesome.

That evening on my way home the battery warning light wasn't blinking. It was staying on. I chalked it up to a faulty warning light. The next morning I found out how wrong that assumption was when I packed up the family to attend a giant Easter egg hunt.

The car didn't start. It was as dead as a bloated possum on the side of I-95. Tears flowed from the eyes of my wife (25 years old) and my daughter (4 years old). My daughter had been looking forward to this hunt for 2 weeks. This was bad. This was real bad. I was powerless. So, I told Maggie, my daughter, to pray for the car to start. She payed the most sincere prayer I've ever heard from her, "Dear God, please let our car start. We want to go to the Easter egg hunt." Being a stick shift car we were able to pop the clutch and start the drive to Moncks Corner (About 30 miles). I drove on faith thinking it would shut off somewhere along the way but prayed it wouldn't. We made it. It was a small miracle.

We enjoyed the egg hunt. When it was over we fully expected to have to pull a Little Miss Sunshine and again give it a push. But that didn't happen. It cranked right up.

We quickly drove to a parts store and bought a new battery. I figured the bad alternator had messed up the 2 year old battery. We got home, and the new battery lasted us all the way until........... Monday morning. This time we weren't in the Advanced Auto parking lot. We were about a mile away stuck in the middle of Mt. Pleasant. And a mile is a LONG way to push a car.

After some help from my dad we were able to jump the car a couple of times and I coasted into Advanced Auto. They checked my NEW alternator and told me it had gone bad. What? New battery. New Alternator. What was wrong now? I worried there was something terribly wrong electronically. There was something terribly wrong, and my father-in-law quickly identified the problem. You won't believe what it was.