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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Detroit export in love

Mike Morin

For a kid who grew up in Detroit, aka the Motor City, I know precious little about cars. Actually, Detroit is better recognized these days as the home of rapper Eminem, government bailouts and a former mayor who did over a year’s hard time for some bad stuff. Still, I should have used my time there more wisely by educating myself about pistons and crankshafts.

So when my 2008 model car refused to turn over on a recent Sunday afternoon, I wasn’t sure what the problem was. Instead of selling the car and buying a new one, which I usually do, even when I have a flat tire, I decided to have the problem solved. Was it the battery? Starter? Cup holder? I had no idea. Then I remembered that I had free roadside assistance coverage for my certified pre-owned buggy. Sweet! I placed the call and had a service technician in my driveway an hour later.

“Looks like the battery’s dead. I can jump it for you,” the guy informed me. I was a bit taken aback. I graduated from junk cars about 20 years ago, so I hadn’t dealt with a D.O.A. battery in a couple of decades. I thought they lasted longer than 38,000 miles. What’s going to go next?

“Could you also check my magneto and framatz, please,” I begged? “At 38,000 miles, this heap could go any time,” I pleaded. He then let me know that the roadside assistance provider also sold batteries and even made house calls.

“I had no idea,” I replied. “Let’s get this party started.” The towing guy left, and I was on the phone ordering a new battery, which would be installed in about an hour in my driveway. Honestly, I was shocked that any business today still provided this degree of service. What happened next completely blew me away.

The guy that showed up next popped the hood and pulled out a voltmeter or some diagnostic thingy. After clamping the leads to the battery terminals, the device spit out a strip of paper 14 inches long. This charging system test showed the battery was on life support. John tossed words like “cold cranking amps” around as if I knew what he was talking about. My battery flunked the drain test, and I was holding a doctor’s report as if I was in the hospital for a chest X-ray. I love this guy!

My new best friend John also told me he would try to keep the current flowing so that my radio wouldn’t need a reboot code once the new battery was hooked up. He succeeded. Then he noticed the low tire pressure icon was lit up on the dash and offered to run soapy water along the rims to check for a leak. I was ready to marry the guy when I remembered being engaged to Barbara.

John must’ve sensed my lack of mechanical finesse. “You from Detroit by any chance?”

I told you this guy was special!

Hear Mike Morin weekdays from 5-10 a.m. on “New Hampshire in the Morning” on 95.7 WZID. Contact him at Heymikey@aol.com. His column runs the first, third and fifth Tuesdays of the month.