Wednesday, June 18, 2008

How not to jumpstart a car

Yesterday was an....interesting...day. First of all, this is my cranky week. I thought I had used up all my crankiness on Mike after he pretty much hid from my family at the graduation party. Apparently I was wrong.
I was supposed to go and get Lyli's best friend Jordan in the morning. She was going to spend the day and sleep over. No biggie. They have been begging about it for months and truthfully she's always really good when she's here and all of the kids play good together when there is another kid to play with. why? I have no idea...just to spite me probably.
Anyway...I sent the kids up to their rooms to strip their beds and gave them fresh sheets so they could remake them. No biggie. After they came down I set them to brushing their teeth and faces (I swear I am somehow related to Pig Pen they way dirt sticks to my children) and convinced them that yes that is way too much dirt to have on your clothes to wear into town...ick. I finally pack them into the car..turn the key..and nothing. My husband had left the hatch open for 2 days. I called Jordans Mom...who, incidentally, was not even out of her pjs yet..to come and give me a jump start. While I waited for her to arrive I dug out the jumper cables from the back of my van and took out my manual to make sure I didn't mess up.
According to the manual this is how you attach one car battery to another:
step 1. Wear eye protection and take off all metal jewelry that might make an inadvertent electrical contact (I have memories of my Dad..an electrician..telling us as he worked on a small appliance "step back, I don't want you to get shocked" while an electrical arch appeared and bit him right on the finger...I begin stripping myself of all metal and mentally reprimanding myself for taking an iron pill that morning)
step 2. When boost is provided by a battery in another vehicle, park that vehicle within booster cable reach and without letting the vehicles touch. Set the parking brake/ place the automatic transmisson in Park and turn ignition switch to OFF for both vehicles. (I have visions of my spaz child running between the two cars, touching both cars and somehow blowing up both batteries..if it can be done..he will find a way)
step 3. Turn off the heater, radio and all unnecessary electrical loads (I wonder how I'm supposed to know what electrical things are ON if the batter is dead...)
step 4. Connect one end of a jumper cable to the positive terminal of the discharged battery. connect the other end of the same cable to the positive terminal of the booster battery. (I curse the car company for not using PICTURES like every other company in America!)
step 5. Connect the other cable, first to the negative terminal of the booster battery and then to the engine of the vehicle with the discharged battery. Make sure you have a good contact on the engine. (What?!?! I didn't take Auto 101 in school..I have to hook something to the ENGINE???)
step 6. Start the engine in the vehicle with the booster battery, let the engine idle for a few minutes then start the engine with the discharged battery. (finally..This I can handle)
step7. When removing the jumper cables, reverse the above sequence. Be careful of the moving belts and fans (OMG..why didn't they TELL ME I had to remember how I put them on up on step 4?????? )

OK. after consulting not only my manual, but Danielle's too.we got the two cars hooked up and ready to go. after 45 minutes..nada. I was sure that the battery was dead. My mechanic was uber busy and couldn't come down, Mike was at work and completely unsympathetic (OK..he was sympathetic, but I was cranky so I didn't see it that way) and I had no groceries in my house. Did I mention my children are like locusts? Danielle was kind enough to take Lyli with her while I figured out what I was doing..she ended up taking her 2 girls and Lyli to Super Walmart with her (Brave soul that she is) and dropping them off here at 8 for their sleepover.
Anyway, back to my battery. I decided I needed to take it out so I could bring it to the store (I was going to ride with Danielle), So I went in search of my tools only to find that most of my sockets were lost. grrr. I finally found a wrench and some pliers and went to work loosing the nut from the battery. I got it to move and pretty soon I was almost to the end..when all of a sudden..it stopped. I did what anyone trying to get a bolt off would do...I reefed on it harder. I reefed on it so hard (by this time I had found vice grips so I could hold one end of the bolt still while i used the wrench on the nut...) that the nut was no longer a hex shape...it was round. Disgusted I put down my tools, went in the house, picked up the phone and informed my husband that It was broken and I was buying a new vehicle. I told you I was cranky.
A few hours later Prince Charming (Aka my wonderful husband) came home to my rescue. He got out his jumper cables, hooked them up..and wallah..within 2 minutes my van was running like nothing every happened. Jerk. :-P
The nut was the kind that goes only so far and then stops so you can life the doohickey thing off the terminal without having to remove nut and bolt. OK. Well no one ever told ME that. PFt...he ended up having to break off the nut because I had forced it too far to recover. oops.
Today I went up to my kids room to bring up some wayward toys and realized why 7 year olds should be supervised when making their beds. Lyli managed to get the fitted sheet..somehow..on her box spring..while her mattress went sheet less. I was in the bathtub recovering from my battery experience when Mike put them to bed last night. Apparently fitted sheets on box springs are something he's seen before and is OK with? I'm not even going to bring it up, I don't want to hear his come back of "well, at least I know how to Jump start a car!" PFFFFFFFFFFFFFFT.

2 comments:

Eat Well (was Teresa R) said...

You poor thing - a whole cranky week! I just had one day, and I am so relieved to be back to semi-normal now. :}

You had to do all that with your hurt finger too! Your dh should do all the household chores for the rest of the week, IMO.

I remember watching my parents jumpstart their cars in my youth, and I swear they never took any precautions like you listed. I swear sometimes that reading the manual makes you more paranoid than is helpful.

Well, thanks for letting us chuckle at your pain. ;> I really hope your week will get better!

Gayle said...

That is just too funny. I didn't realize there was a manuel for jump starting a car. I'm the kind of gal who whips up to dead cars in parking lots offering help. I've rescued many a man with MY jumper cables. Don't worry..if you get stuff backwards you just have a slight engine fire! :)