Monday, November 29, 2010

A Little Car Karma

My car has been acting more and more erratic lately. The speedometer and RPM indicator have been spontaneously cutting out. Worse, for the last two weeks the car has become increasingly more difficult to start. After a herculean effort, I was able to get it going so that I could drive up to my folks' house for Thanksgiving. And, by sheer luck, I able to, after several attempts, get it started again so that I could get back home the next day.

Several mechanic friends have indicated to me that there must be a short somewhere in the wiring. Slamming my ass down on the driver's seat in just the right way seems to clear the short and allows the car to draw the power necessary to start. Problem is, that method has become less and less successful over the last month. I resolved to fix the issue myself yesterday after several more failed attempts to get the car to start. I inspected the wiring and traced back what I could. It was little better than a bowl of spaghetti. It had been messed with quite a bit and I could see pin-pricks in some of the wires indicating that someone had been testing them. Someone had even patched in speaker wire at some point, probably a year ago when the car was in the shop for about three days. Still, none of my tweaking did any good. I was tired, hungry, and was at wit's end.

I don't problem solve well on an empty stomach, so I hiked down to the local Walgreen's to get some snacks and clear my head. When I emerged with my Doritos and Dr. Pepper, I found myself face-to-face with a Salvation Army bell ringer. He was dressed as Santa Claus and was singing Christmas carols. With a smirk and a shrug, I figured "What the hell....I could use some good karma right now". I dug into my pockets and put all the money I had into the kettle.

As I approached my house, the Dr. Pepper putting out the fire on my taste buds that had been started by the habanero Doritos, I noticed that the hood of my car had been popped. Had I done that inadvertently while troubleshooting? I opened the driver's side door and looked in...it wasn't possible to accidentally trip the release. I took another swig of Dr. Pepper and proceeded to undo the hood's latch, raising it up so I could access the engine. For a moment, I thought about checking the fuses, but thought better of it because others more mechanically inclined than me had already done so. Out of nothing more than instinct, I pushed the battery further back into its seating. Instantly, I heard the friendly ring of the car's reminder signal telling me that I had left the keys in the ignition.

"It's ALIVE!", I exclaimed.

Sure enough, when I sat down to start the car, the beast roared to life on the first try. So, what does this mean? Does it mean that the battery clips and contacts simply need to be cleaned? Does it mean that one of the connector wires is faulty? Is there indeed a short somewhere and pushing the battery back gives the wires in question enough slack to clear the short? I don't know. What I do know is that the Saturn S series, is persnickety when it comes to anything electrical to begin with, and, whatever the problem is, it couldn't hurt to buy a little karma here and there to help get it working

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