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Why a breakdowns always at the worst time?!

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 girlymonkey 22 May 2020

I don't drive often at the best of times, and at the moment even less. I am cycle commuting most of the time and rarely need to drive anywhere else. Today though, I had a few things to drop off to people, and this weekend's wind forecast made it seem sensible for me to drive rather than ride to work tomorrow and maybe Sunday too (not a fan of 40mph cross winds when I am on a road - landing under vehicles isn't my idea of fun!). 

So, I loaded up the van with the things I needed to drop off today and loaded the dog in too, jumped in and put the key in....and nothing!!! It's peeing it with rain and blowing a hoolie. So got my mum to come down and try to jump start, but it wasn't even trying to turn over. Now waiting for breakdown to arrive. Seems unlikely that they will arrive on time to get it to a garage before they shut, so I will either have to just ride anyway tomorrow (30km each way with crazy wind isn't appealing) or drag my poor husband out of bed to take me through in his work van at silly o'clock! Grrrrr.

I know, in the grand scheme of things it's not the end of the world - I'm waiting at home and I do have a way to get to work, but still really annoying!!

Hope your days are going better!!

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 Blue Straggler 22 May 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

Sorry to hear it. When was the van last used? I was surprised (about two months ago) to find my car struggling to start after just 2.5 weeks idle in warm weather. The batteries do run down over time (rate varies depending on how many things the battery is feeding when “unused”) . I was surprised with my car as it has previously fired up first time after well over three weeks unused through freezing weather (it has a particularly big powerful battery) 

I make sure now to take my car for at least a 15 mile continuous drive once a week for the sake of the battery 

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 girlymonkey 22 May 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

It was out last weekend for a good distance, so although we don't drive it much, it does go out probably once a week. It feels like some sort of more random electrical fault. When I open the door there is electrical clicking noises. 

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 fred99 22 May 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

What size engine ?

If you have a large petrol, or indeed virtually any diesel, then you need a similar sized (or larger) engine vehicle to provide the boost. You also need heavy duty jump-leads with thicker cables, rather than the thinner cabled normal ones.

Also I had the same problem last week, and when connected nothing happened. However once the "donor" vehicle was revved up I was able to start my car (2 litre diesel).

(For the "green brigade", I normally commute etc. by small motorcycle, but need a decent sized car for some jobs. The car spends nine tenths of its' time [or more] parked up).

Post edited at 15:46
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 fmck 22 May 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

Hey my fridge freezer packed in the middle of lockdown. Currys got one delivered next day. They could only leave it in the drive so had to wrestle it up the steps into the house. I managed to borrow a wee freezer on the same day. We removed all packaging and wrapped in foil. We were in such a hurry we forgot to label now we have a freezer full of foil rocks. 

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 Blue Straggler 22 May 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

Oh dear sounds a bit more serious. Good luck! Hope it is not too messy 

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In reply to fred99:

> What size engine ?

> If you have a large petrol, or indeed virtually any diesel, then you need a similar sized (or larger) engine vehicle to provide the boost. You also need heavy duty jump-leads with thicker cables, rather than the thinner cabled normal ones.

No you don't. I drive a 2.2 ltr diesel van that has gone flat 3 times on the drive due to me forgetting to turn the extra interior lights off that I have in the back. The wife's 1ltr Toyota Yaris with a set of £10 jump leads from motor save gets it going every time. 

Hook them up, give it 5 minutes and crank away. 

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 spenser 22 May 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

Sounds a bit like what mine did over the summer, it transpired one of the earth bonds from the battery to the frame had gone, possibly give the cable a bit of a tug to see if it is solidly attached.

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 brianjcooper 22 May 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

Brings back memories of when my landlady drove her kids to school wearing only slippers, a nightie and a short dressing gown. Successfully dropped the kids off, but on the way back the car broke down a couple of miles from home. She reported a long embarrassing walk back to the house.      

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In reply to girlymonkey:

Get a trickle charger - not expensive - and leave it charging overnight.

Might not be flat batt but that must be the most common callout at the moment.

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 Eric9Points 22 May 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

The RAC man told me he'd done nothing but replace batteries in the last few weeks when he was replacing mine.

Lots of cars doing nothing for days on end leading to dead batteries.

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 fred99 22 May 2020
In reply to Eric9Points:

> The RAC man told me he'd done nothing but replace batteries in the last few weeks when he was replacing mine.

> Lots of cars doing nothing for days on end leading to dead batteries.

I doubt they all needed replacing, most of them will have just gone flat because of no use.

A few years ago the AA were pushing the "Batteries had it, can't do anything about it, you need a new one. Luckily we've got a special offer on, and I've got one in the van" game.

Coincidence my foot.

I left the AA after that.

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 Blue Straggler 22 May 2020
In reply to fred99:

How many years ago was this? Rogue Traders nabbed the RAC for it in about 2001. The AA had been at it at the same time but I think quietly stopped it before the RAC expose 

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 Martin W 22 May 2020
In reply to Michael Hood:

> Get a trickle charger - not expensive - and leave it charging overnight.

This.  A much better idea than driving a dozen or more miles for no reason other than to top up the battery with electricity that you can perfectly well get out of the socket on the wall at home, and for significantly less £££.

A lot of modern cars do odd things when the battery starts to run bit low.  Things that otherwise wouldn't appear to be related, like the ICE behaving strangely while the rest of the vehicle's functions seem to be fine.

One of the key indicators on mine is that the stop-start stops working.

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 Blue Straggler 22 May 2020
In reply to Martin W:

> This.  A much better idea than driving a dozen or more miles for no reason other than to top up the battery with electricity that you can perfectly well get out of the socket on the wall at home,

Unless you have no parking closer than 200 metres from your home!

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In reply to Eric9Points:

I don't pretend any knowledge on this, but I do have a camper van - not moved recently, obvs - which has a decent sized solar panel which keeps the batteries in good nick. You can also get small plug in panels from caravan accessory shops. They plug into the cigarette lighter socket. Would this be a good solution, at least in the lighter half of the year?

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In reply to girlymonkey:

It's sod's law isn't it? Just like  the wipers are always fine until it starts to rain.

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 65 09:58 Sat
In reply to fred99:

> A few years ago the AA were pushing the "Batteries had it, can't do anything about it, you need a new one. Luckily we've got a special offer on, and I've got one in the van" game.

Interesting. Green Flag gave me a jump start a year or so ago and said my battery was dead and that I should go straight to Halfords and buy a new one. I went to Halfords and they tested my battery, without being asked to, and advised me not to waste my money as it was fine. 

I have recently had to buy a battery charger though. Cheaper and a sight more environmentally friendly than replacing the battery.

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 Flinticus 10:15 Sat
In reply to girlymonkey:

We had a totally flat battery about a week ago. Push start didn't work but our neighbour saw us trying and came out with jump leads. Worked after about 5 mins charging. Now we take the car on mini-trips to keep charged.

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In reply to girlymonkey:

How did you get on, today?

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 wercat 10:43 Sat
In reply to fred99:

I'm sure they didn't all need replacing, but we were taught when charging wireless batteries that if they went flat for anything but a very short time they would start to break down.  We had them on trickle charge but occasionally got out the BSA 300 Watt charging set for a bit of smoky fun, filling the signals hut with fumes.

Don't know whether modern batteries other than leisure types are different.  Those were 75 AH 6 volt batteries used to provide 12V and as the wireless set took 8 amps on transmit the batteries took a hammering.

Having a car registered in 2006 I have been making sure it gets an outing at least once a week as we can't afford breakdowns

Post edited at 10:45
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 fred99 12:50 Sat
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> How many years ago was this? Rogue Traders nabbed the RAC for it in about 2001. The AA had been at it at the same time but I think quietly stopped it before the RAC expose 


Probably was just before that. I left the place I was working at when it happened in 2002.

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 Martin W 15:57 Sat
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> Unless you have no parking closer than 200 metres from your home!

True.

But you don't need to leave it on charge all the time you're not using it.  At the moment I am topping mine up about once a month.  With one shopping trip a week it's only being driven four times a month.  I can't remember the last time I put fuel in it!

I suppose it makes a change for owners of IC vehicles to experience how awkward things can be for folks who have all-electric cars.

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In reply to girlymonkey:

In my case, it's usually my fault.

I used to live at about 1000m in Switzerland. The last couple of miles home from work were upwards through serious ice-snow covered roads for the winter months. The journey to work could be very exciting. I bought chains, but found that winter tyres were enough until..they weren't, and I learned how to put the chains on with the car's snout in a snow drift and my gloveless hands refusing to obey my snow fuzzed mutterings.

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 girlymonkey 20:49 Sat
In reply to girlymonkey:

The breakdown guy managed to start it. My mum's car is fairly small so might have been battery was too small, or cables not hardcore enough. 

I was a bit wary about whether it would start again this morning as I didn't know why it had gone flat, but it was fine and got me home again too. Back on the bike tomorrow though, so can relax again!

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 Wingnut 00:37 Sun
In reply to Blue Straggler:

>>Unless you have no parking closer than 200 metres from your home!

This. The block of flats I live in has no official parking at all for residents (which is another rant for another thread, not so much about the parking as about the reasoning behind it), and, while I've managed to scrounge an overnight-only permit for the commercial parking behind the block, my car mostly lives in an unpowered lock-up several streets away. Pre-CV19, I was commuting to work by train, and the car only got used at weekends.

I got it out for the first time since mid-March last weekend, and was quite surprised that it still started. Needed some grunt to actually get it out of the garage, mind, because the brakes had rusted on quite hard ... which makes me wonder how you would go about recovering a vehicle parked front-in in a confined space, but without being able to push it out ...

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In reply to Wingnut:

Drag it from the toeing eye. 

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 Wingnut 03:54 Sun
In reply to Dax H:

Round a 90-degree angle, while being pulled by a friend's 1-litre fiesta. Except that I can't do that, because social distancing. 

(Also, apologies if this came out more than once. Forums here  seem to have gone funny.)

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In reply to Dax H:

Confined space. Maybe install a pillar and pulley?! 

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In reply to Wingnut:

> Round a 90-degree angle, while being pulled by a friend's 1-litre fiesta. Except that I can't do that, because social distancing. 

What size vehicle are you parking round a 90 degree angle and why can't you push it?

My assumption was driving in to a garage nose first and going all the way to the wall with only just enough room to squeeze out of the door so pushing from the door wouldn't be an option. 

I would still go for the toe loop, put a strap on it and pull it backwards enough by hand to get in front to push, as long as its flat I can push my 3.5 ton van so a car isn't a problem. 

With a 90 degree angle you would need a friend anyway, one pulls / pushes either with a car or manually and the other steers so your probably shit out of luck at the moment. 

The turning space to drive a car forward through a 90 degree bend means there is ample room to reverse it out again once you get it moving from the initial choke point.

May I suggest ultimately though, if its going to be such a problem reverse in to start with. 

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In reply to girlymonkey:

I learned something very interesting about my new van over Christmas, no Callouts this year so it didn't move for a week, tracker flattened the battery.

Not a problem, pop the bonnet. 

Ahh the bonnet release is not accessible unless the passenger door is open and I'm parked within 1 inch of the house wall (I park very close to both protect the side door and allow me to get the motorbike past) 

My drive is sloped so I had to get a tow out so I could open the bonnet and get a jump start. 

I now park 2 inch from the house so I can just get access to the lever

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 girlymonkey 09:58 Mon
In reply to Dax H:

Yes, we have a stupidly hidden bonnet release (might be the same one). After spending an age finding it, I then stared into the engine for a long time feeling very stupid that I couldn't locate the battery. I have fixed and jump started many vehicles over the years, so I know what I am looking for. I eventually googled it, it's under the driver's feet, you have to lift the carpet in drivers footwell!! Which does make jump starting it from another vehicle more tricky when it's in my drive!! 

Do you think car manufacturers have some sort of competition amongst themselves as to who can come up.with the least user friendly designs? Headlight bulbs have to come pretty high up in this respect too!!

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In reply to girlymonkey:

> Headlight bulbs have to come pretty high up in this respect too!!

“Officially” on my car, changing a headlight bulb involves removing the entire front bumper!

A “shortcut” is to “just” take the front wheel(s) off.

If you are really handy and nimble and good at this sort of thing then it can be done just with wheels steered appropriately on full lock.

I just get my mechanic to do it, only needed it once in terms of ONLY doing a bulb (which cost half an hour’s labour). Now I just get it done during a service or MOT (there is always a sidelight out by the time MOT comes around) and he only charges for the bulb given that he is working on the car anyway 

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 girlymonkey 10:53 Tue
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Yep, I had one that was accessed through a hatch in the wheel arch. Horrifically messy and awkward way of doing it! I did always do it myself because I am a cheapskate!

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 David Riley 11:18 Tue

Wercat is right .  "if they went flat for anything but a very short time they would start to break down." 

 Don't let your battery go flat.    It will probably never be the same again.

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