Stranded by AAA

Last Tuesday I was driving home, on a busy city street, when my engine suddenly shut-off…. in the middle of the road. None of the car electronics were working.   I tried to start the car many times, but to no avail.  Unfortunately…. it was a dead battery!

It's good to try to avoid this situation.  You should get your battery tested every so often. Your mechanic or local auto parts store should have specialized testing equipment to determine whether a battery is good or bad.  How can you determine whether you have a bad battery?  Usually when your battery starts to produce white corrosive material around the battery terminals and contacts, it tends to be a sign the battery is starting to go. My battery was producing white corrosion a lot, and no amount of cleaning was keeping it from coming back.  Batteries also tend to smell pungent.  If it smells like rotten-eggs around your battery or when your hood is open, you have a bad battery.  Batteries tend to last about 3-5 years.  If your battery is over 3 years old, definitely get it tested every couple months to ensure you don't get stranded.

The annoying thing is AAA tested this battery tested 2 weeks earlier, and said it was “Fine.” Since it was an AAA branded battery with a 3-year warranty, you can get a replacement if defective.  While questioning a representative on what criteria is needed to replace a battery the statement was “We will replace a battery if it has a bad cell or is defective.” They gave me the usual corporate runaround about policies and procedures, but provided no real information.  It seems AAA doesn't want to give you a new battery unless it's absolutely necessary.

I got my car towed to where I work.  We promptly tested the battery, and obviously it was no good.  So I put in a new one and was back on the road.

Don't listen to AAA for advice about vehicle maintenance.  It’s better to be cautious, and change a battery when it shows signs of wear.  I learned this the hard way by getting stranded in busy traffic.  These roadside assistance clubs are for towing, not auto repair advice.