My truck died this evening.

dead truckIt’s been running fine. At least it has since the last time I had it towed in and repaired.  That’s been a few weeks.  I moved it so I could mow the driveway (yes, I mow my driveway) and when I went to move it back it started up, started to move then went completely dead. I mean big blue rock dead. Nothing at all, not even an idiot light lit up.

To make this short(ish) I fixed it. But what I found to be wrong is SO bizarre I have no idea how it got that way and was running at all.

It is running now. I told my boss that I do plan to be at work tomorrow after all. But if I don’t make it, check for reports of alien spacecraft sightings!

For the Inquiring Mind (skip this if you’re not feeling inquisitive)

I checked the battery with a 12 volt circuit tester (basically a wire with a light bulb in it) and the battery was putting out some juice, so it didn’t melt down.

So I checked (and cleaned) the battery cable connections. They look fine.

Some cars have a fusible link in the positive battery cable. I don’t know if mine does or not but I tried to look. Since the cable goes into a flexible plastic conduit: results inconclusive.

I checked the negative cable too. There are actually three cables coming out of the battery clamp (though it’s not a clamp any more). One of these cables was just hanging down, tucked in among the hoses and various lines. I wondered about that. It is possible the third wire never was needed: there are many power accessories I don’t have.  I crawled under to see if anything looked like a wire had come loose, but could see nothing obvious.

So … negative battery cables usually go to grounds of some sort. Can’t hurt to ground it against something big and metal and see if it helps, right? So I wiped off the gunk and poked it into a crevice in a pump mount. climbed into the truck and tried the key.

Low and behold, the dash lit up! Twist it some more and the starter spins and the engine fires right up. Problem solved. Kinda.

I shut it off and crawled under again to see if I could find where the cable was supposed to be bolted down, but still could not see anything that screamed “I’m missing a cable”. But a ground is a ground, right? So I found an easily accessed bolt holding a metal tabby thing that is not in use to the engine block, loosened that and used the bolt to attach the battery cable end.

Again it fired right up. Transmission shifts into all gears. Everything that worked before is working now. So I guess I’ll be going to work tomorrow after all.

But, when I get a chance, I’m going to stop by the mechanic and see where that cable is supposed to be attached and if my patch-up is kosher.

All I can think of is that a bolt has been slowly working its way out and it fell out completely this evening. But I found no bolt in the driveway. And how could a cable end just sitting on a mostly loose bolt pass enough power to run the starter motor?

Weird, just weird!

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