Last Thursday, The Wife was out with the car and it wouldn't start. The tow truck jumped it, so she could drive it home. He said the battery cable was loose so the diagnosis should start there.
I received this news late Thursday while out with my darts team for the division championship. We had just lost the very close game, so this was just about the perfect time. No need to bring on sour news when I'm feeling good; better to here about it when I'm already in the dumps.
My friend let me borrow his 2nd car that night so The Wife could drive to work on Friday. Just to put a little pizzazz into it, there was police activity smack dab in front of our house. When I rounded the corner to our street, a couple of police cars had pulled over a car and were searching it. I parked a few houses down and waited about 20 minutes. They hauled the guy off and a tow truck promptly took his car. I walked outside around 12:30am and drove my friends car into our driveway. Great.
Friday morning, I woke up and examined the car. The battery was way low; it wouldn't even turn the engine over. So, driving it to a mechanic was out of the question. Paying to have it towed made me grimace too. The battery cable was a weird kind of loose. Tight at first glance, but if you wiggled it just right, it would pop off the battery post with ease.
I went inside and searched online for the nearest Napa auto parts store (for no particular reason, I think that's what my Dad always went to back on the farm). I walked about 20 blocks to the shop and purchased one model "51R" car battery for about $80. As the fella brought the battery out of the stockroom he looked at me and said "so, this is going to be a lot of money". Who says that? This guy should go to marketing school or at least take the correspondence course. I had a good guess of what a battery costs; maybe he thought I was going to ask for a deal or something. I was dressed pretty scruffy after 6 hours of sleep and a tough night of beer & darts. It was easier walking there than it was walking back; its heavy after a few blocks.
I removed the old battery and installed the new battery easily enough. It really helped that I found the needle nose pliers, vice grips and adjustable wrench in the house. They're weren't put back in their proper locations in the garage. Grrrrr!
The car started right up and I felt a little bit of pride in a job well done. I considered that I had probably solved the problem and it was most likely caused by the loose connection; thus, the battery was not being charged properly by the alternator and it was slowing draining all its resources. After several days, the battery finally gave up. Yet, in the back of my mind, I thought what if its really something bigger? I am a farm kid, but I'm no mechanic.
The same friend who loaned me the car highly recommended Dan's Automotive. I drove the car over there this morning and recited the story to the guy (Dan I suppose) then walked over to a coffee shop. He called me back in about 90 minutes and said to come over. The car was perfect, nothing was drawing too much of a charge and he looked all over for any other suspicious problems.
Then, he looked at me warily and said, "so, is $20 fair?" I grinned widely and agreed. The confirmation of no problems would be a deal at twice the price. He had a couple of customers in the shop and already had some cars up on the blocks. I was glad he took me on such short notice. Looked like he was doing a fair business; but not swamped. He was super friendly; which is very high on my priority list. So, Dan's Automotive is now my favorite place to take my car too. If you need a mechanic in NE Portland, you should try the place too:
5811 NE Sandy Blvd
Portland, OR 97213