Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Dead Batteries

Yesterday I opened the car door and realized the morning was not going to be as I planned.  The light in the car was weaker than usual, and when I put the key in the ignition, the car told me to check my battery.  The car wouldn't start.

I have a Prius, so I hoped that the battery message was about the smaller battery, the type that every car has, not the big battery that makes it a hybrid.

Here's what I don't understand:  this car's computer system can tell me if a tire is losing pressure.  It can tell me what the temperature is outside.  It can tell me my gas mileage and how much I'm paying per mile, if I input the price of the gasoline.

It couldn't tell me in advance that I had a dying battery?

I knew that my spouse didn't have plans that involved his car yesterday, so I switched cars.  I thought of the things we never think about when buying a car.  With the battery dead, I couldn't unlock the car doors, and only one door, the driver's door, has a lock that opens with the traditional key.

Later I would find out other things about this car that I didn't think to check when we bought the pair of Priuses (Prii?).  We have a smaller Prius, the C series, and it takes an unusual battery.  Our local Firestone doesn't carry it--we had to get the car to the dealer.  Yes, the dealership that is less than a mile from my work, but 6 miles from the house.

Long story short, we spent much of yesterday getting the car back and forth.  As expected, this battery cost more than any other car battery we've ever bought.  It was supposed to cost just under $400 ($400!!!!), but I think we got it for $250 because the guy first told my spouse the wrong price.

Even if we had found a way to buy the battery, we likely couldn't have installed it ourselves.  The Prius is not the car for the do-it-yourselfer; perhaps few cars are these days.  We get better gas mileage than with most cars, but in the end, if we have to go to the dealership for what should be a small repair, are we saving money?

I think that in the end, it will be a wash.  I feel like we use less fossil fuel, but if we have to spend a day driving back and forth to the dealership, have we wiped out that good deed?  If we have to replace tires, a petroleum product, with this car much more frequently than any other car we've ever had, are we lessening our global warming footprint?

I have said it before, and will probably say it until I'm dead, it's so hard to live a life that's perfectly in sync with one's values.

Let me just list my gratitudes:  we had money to pay for this very expensive battery.  It was dead in the driveway, not dead during travel.  It was during a day where we could readjust plans and get the battery taken care of.  I have a boss who was understanding about my need to go back and forth to the dealership.  The dealership could get it taken care of.

Yes, it could have been worse.  But at the end of the day, I was still exhausted.  Dealing with a dead battery is draining.

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