Last night while I was pulling and yanking and digging and pulling and grunting at some weeds….

Hubby backed my car out to put our recycling bin on the curb.

Then he tried to pull my car back into the garage….and it wouldn’t start. 

Turn the ignition…click. Then silence.

The usual neighborhood gang of 8 year olds were congregated in front of our house, like always, and calmly watched us PUSH my car back into the garage.  (something a little unnerving about having an audience of 8 year olds every.time.we’re.outside – just sayin)

We popped the hood and saw a battery terminal covered in blue crusties.  BIG TIME CRUSTIES.  On my relatively new battery.

And I was immediately reminded of the oil change I got last week where they wrote on my “5 point checklist” (or whatever) that I had a bad terminal and “clean if necessary”.  Of course, I assumed that the kind folks at the Ford dealership would have used their special tools etc to “clean if necessary” because surely it’s much faster for them to do it than for me to wonder/talk to myself/google/attempt to do it after my car DOESN’T START.  Gah!

Guess they didn’t feel the need to “clean if necessary”.

Ok so my dad used to tell me to use a can of Coke to clean corrosion off the car battery but I’d never been able to verify that anywhere else and I didn’t want to mess anything up, so we did the baking soda and water thing that the owner’s manual suggested.  (Later I found a link where they talked about a “little known trick that works great” which is using a can of Coke!)

Although I didn’t take a picture prior to removing the Smurf  of corrosion that had planted itself on the battery terminal, here’s the final dusting of baking soda that we left sitting overnight:


The nut that holds the battery cable on is stripped so bad we couldn’t get it off.  Otherwise, we would’ve taken the cable off and cleaned the two pieces separately. 

Here’s the connection after what seemed to be a pretty-good cleaning:

IMG_2296 Notice the green felt donut?  Apparently you put those on to help prevent corrosion.  Now this one is completely soaked with water/baking soda.  I have no idea whether that matters when I turn the car on, so my friendly Ford dealership got a call 🙂 

Turns out it’s ok to turn on your car, even if the felt pad around your battery terminal is wet.  Also turns out that it is “essential” to get the cable off the terminal and clean them that way.

Thinking maybe I wouldn’t *need* to do that,  I went to turn on my car, and it clicked…and then nothing.  OK FINE THEN.  That battery cable was coming off one way or another.

I grabbed a pliers and turned and twisted and tried to budge that nut….to no avail.  But I noticed the whole cable was wiggling….so I got a hold of the little metal base and I yanked UPWARD.  And yanked and yanked, and wiggled.  And then it came off!!!

Cleaned the terminal and the inside of the cable’s little collar thing.  Went to put them back together and got a spark.  Freaked out, called AutoZone.  (I was trying to spread out my questions so no one could get too annoyed)  The guy told me no big deal, a spark is normal.  Whew. 

Back to the garage…big leather gloves….holding the cable with a pliers directly over the terminal…..squeezed my eyes shut and put the cable onto the terminal.  A little spark…And it was back on.  Surely my car would start now….

Turn the ignition…..dash lights come on, A/C comes on, door is dinging at me to shut it….click.  Silence. 

Called AutoZone again.  They said to look into whether the anti-theft had disabled the car when the battery was disconnected. 

Owner’s manual said nothing about the anti-theft needing a reset after disconnecting the battery.

Called the dealership.  Explained the problem again.  This time he said it sounds like the starter and you need to get it in here somehow.  You can try to jump it, but it probably won’t work.  You can try to push-start it, but it won’t work unless you are on a hill (we’re not).

Did I mention I took tomorrow off work for a vacation day?  Yep, couple weeks ago I arranged that so I could get some things done before we leave Saturday for a weeklong trip to the lake. 

And now the tow truck will be here first thing in the morning to tow my poor, cute little green car down the road four miles to the dealership.

And now I’m a grump.

Damn Murphy’s Law.

One comment

  1. Here's a redneck tip for cleaning corroded battery terminals: Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew; pretty much anything with fiz. Maybe use an old toothbrush to help it come off. Once it's off your battery terminal can make a clean connection. Oh and that green felt stuff….not all cars have that.. don't let them charge you a zillion bucks for new onesBlessings,Shanna


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