Thursday, April 19, 2018

Car Trouble

Having a fairly new, fairly dependable, fairly high-end vehicle, the last thing I thought I would have is car problems.  Until today when the vehicle was dead as a door nail when we left a restaurant after dinner.  Now years ago in my do-it-yourself days I would have hopped out of the vehicle, grabbed the jumper cables, found someone with a vehicle, and fixed the issue myself (or called a buddy with a truck and a tow rope and dragged the thing to another buddy's garage and fixed whatever the issue was).  Today a quick call to roadside service that comes with the vehicle fixed the problem relatively easily--well maybe not fixed but it got the car started so I could drive it home; tomorrow it will be on its way to the dealership to get a new battery which is covered under warranty.  So what did I learn from this?

  • No car is immune from car issues so always be prepared.
  • Car batteries only last two or three years in the desert southwest (said the guy who jumped the battery and said the battery was "old" in relative terms).
  • Know if your vehicle comes with roadside assistance (all of this info was kept in the glove box and it was a simple call to get help).
  • Know what is covered by your vehicle's warranty (my vehicle has a pretty comprehensive warranty) and how long the warranty is good for (my vehicle still has a couple years and tens of thousands of miles left on its warranty).
  • Consider getting AAA (the low annual fee covers roadside assistance and towing among other things; best of all it covers any vehicle you own or are driving or are a passenger in).
  • Have basic car emergency supplies on hand (example list here).  I had jumper cables so I could have fixed the issue myself if needed.
  • Consider carrying your own portable jumper boxes (these have become very popular recently).  Another popular item to have is a portable air compressor to pump up a flat tire.
  • In extreme areas have extra supplies in your vehicle (extra bottled water, food, cold weather gear, and umbrella, etc).
  • Know what you don't have.  A friend called in a panic one day when she had a flat and looked for the spare and found that her car didn't have one!
  • Have a triple-redundant contingency plan for if you get stranded.  In this case there were several options if the car couldn't be easily fixed.  I could literally run home and get another vehicle (it would have taken a few hours), we could have hopped on the city bus to get home, we could have called a tow truck to take us and the vehicle home (I have the number of a buddy with a tow truck on my emergency contact list), we could have ordered up an Uber or Lyft, or we could have called any one of several friends who lived close by for a lift home.
Overall this was an annoyance but it wasn't a crisis.  The situation was easily resolved, and it could have been much worse (it could have broke down on the freeway when it was 115 degrees outside)!

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