Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dead Lexus

So we all piled in to my wife's Lexus this morning, running late as usual. Put key in ignition, turned to start, and nothing happened. The first stage of grief (as in "Oh Good Grief!") is denial, and while lingering in that stage I tried to start the car again. And again, and a few more times just because denial is such a blissful place to be. Of course my repeated attempts to coax electrons out of an empty battery were completely futile. We quickly grabbed all our stuff and piled in to my daughter's Jeep, then proceeded on our way, adding at least 3 minutes to our tardy time.

This evening I went out in to the garage to resuscitate the dead Lexus. Battery juxtaposition was such that the easiest course of action was to push the Lexus partway out of the garage. My wife got in the driver's seat, turned the ignition on to unlock the steering wheel, then went to put the car in Neutral. The shifter wouldn't budge. I asked "Is your foot on the brake"? "Yes" came the reply. Of course I didn't believe her. But of course she was right. Even with the brake pedal pressed as far as it would go the transmission would not come out of Park.

Like most modern automatics, this car has a safety interlock between park and the brake. You cannot shift the car out of park until you have the brake pedal depressed. Unfortunately it seems that this interlock actually needs power in order to unlock the transmission. No power, no unlock. Well, this kind of makes life a challenge when you need to push a car with a dead battery.

I finally pulled the Jeep in to the garage and got the Lexus jump-started. Then I drove the Lexus around for about 20 minutes to charge the battery. I found this entire event to be extremely stressful and therefore I required nourishment, and since I was driving around anyway it sure seemed like a stop at Cold Stone was appropriate.

We are still not sure why the battery discharged. We suspect that the headlight "auto" setting did not turn the lights off when it was supposed to. We have had problems with this before, but always caught it before the battery drained. So from now on we don't trust "auto".

Tomorrow we get to see if the battery can still hold a charge.

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