Battery With a Death Wish

Mar 01, 1997

RAY: About a year ago a customer came into the shop complaining that when he went away on business trips, his car would be dead when he returned a week or so later. But when he drove the car every day or every other day as the case would be, it was satisfactory. And he took it in to us and we did all the usual tests - testing for current drain and all that jazz - were unable to find anything wrong. So we sold him a new battery anyway. And an alternator and voltage regulator. All that stuff.

TOM: All the usual stuff. It was boat payment time.

RAY: He goes away on another trip and he's incensed that the battery has been killed again. He said, "There's something wrong with my car. Please check it out." So we check it out and we find nothing wrong. Whereupon we attempt to return the car to him and he says, "EHHH! I'm going away on another trip. I want you to keep the car."

TOM: And let it die on you! You miserable, no good, rotten...

RAY: In fact, we made the offer to him. Whenever you go on a trip, leave the car with us for a week! So, he agreed to do that. He would leave the car for a week. We would not touch it for the entire week, it would be parked in one spot. Because we insisted there was nothing wrong with the car and he wanted to prove to us that in fact there was something wrong.

TOM: That you might be morons.

RAY: He returns after a week.

TOM: Car starts right up.

RAY: Turns the key.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: We hold our collective breaths...

TOM: Yeah. Yeah!

RAY: It starts right up.

TOM: Yes. I knew it!

RAY: He says,"Shucks!"

TOM: Yeah, what did he really say?

RAY: He says, "What could I be doing wrong? What could be different?" He accuses us, of course, of starting the car everyday, starting the battery up on the sly, disconnecting the battery so it didn't run down. And we plead innocent to all charges, and in fact we had done nothing to the car, and then I ask him one question.

TOM: Oh ho--this is beautiful!

RAY: I ask him where he parks. He tells me where he parks when he's gone for the week. In fact, he tells me where he parks when he's not gone for the week. He parks in his driveway. At which point I said, "I know what's wrong. I know what's killing your battery."


RAY: His battery was going dead because something was indeed draining the battery when it was parked in his driveway...

TOM: Aliens?

RAY: ...that was not draining it when it was parked in the shop. And what was draining it was the underhood light. His driveway was on an incline of such severity -- you know those underhood lights have a little mercury switch in them so that when you lift the hood the light goes on.

TOM: No kidding!

RAY: And if you're parked at a steep enough angle and the switch is on the hairy edge of being mis-adjusted -- you know as you open the hood, if you stick your head under there and peek when you've got it open 2, 3, 4, 5 inches, the light may in fact come on.

TOM: Not only that, but you can tell which way his driveway slopes. Up!

RAY: He was backin' in.

TOM: Wow. Jeez. That was good. That was excellent!

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