Molly lives in the small white house on the hill. I can see it from my home about a half-mile away. Johnny, her husband, passed away last year. I stop in to check on her from time to time. A couple weeks ago, she came to see me with—no surprise—car troubles.
Johnny’s truck, a 1994 F150, has been stored in a barn since last year. With summer winding down, Molly was in her belated spring-cleaning mode, and wanted to haul a batch of old paint, worn tractor parts, depleted auto batteries, and half-empty bags of fertilizer to the annual county clean-up. But alas, the truck wouldn’t start. I volunteered to have a look.
The car battery had been in there for quite a while and looked a mess. Add to that the fact that one in four auto batteries on the road is about to fail, and jeez, it’s no surprise it wouldn’t start. The battery terminals were corroded, which I explained could be prevented by spraying battery terminal protector after first using a battery post and terminal cleaning brush. If the truck hadn’t been sitting so long, and hadn’t been stored in a hot barn—with heat being one of the worst enemies of a car battery—I would have just jump-started it, but it’s often better to just replace a car battery when it’s old like this one.
After pulling out the faded, old car battery, loading it into Molly’s trunk, and sending her on her way, I had to hold in a chuckle because she literally thought car batteries lasted 20 years. Beyond that, the truck needed some other TLC. I went back under the hood, checked the fluids (the radiator was bone dry), aired up the tires, and put fresh gas in the tank. Molly returned with a new car battery, surprised at how many other auto batteries there were to choose from.
I tightened the new car battery down, installed the cables, and told her to try it. And as luck—along with a little basic, car-maintenance ingenuity—would have it, the old Ford fired right up.
She put it in gear, and with a wave, was off with her load of old car batteries and assorted junk in tow. I wiped my hands on an old rag that I had found in the barn, satisfied that I had helped a friend, but knowing it probably wouldn’t be the last I’ll see of Molly…or her truck.
Editor’s note: Advance Auto Parts offers free car battery testing, recycling and installation with purchase. We’d be happy to check your car battery, at one of more than 3,500 Advance Auto Parts stores.