I went to Trader Joe’s this morning to pick up a pint of organic heavy whipping cream to make macaron fillings. While I was there, I also picked up two boxes of cereal, a jar of strawberry jam, and a pint of cookie butter ice cream.
It was already 11:30 AM and I had to get home by 12:00 PM to meet someone who was dropping off their bike. I had plenty of time to make the 4-mile drive. I put my groceries in the trunk and hopped in the driver’s seat. I put the key into the ignition and was greeted by a few hard cranks without the ensuing growl of the engine coming to life. On the second try, the engine almost caught but sputtered out. The clock still told the correct time so the battery wasn’t completely dead. I turned the car off and took a few deep breaths.
Several thoughts ran through my mind in between my attempts to get my car started.
“Can I ask Trader Joe’s to put my purchaes in cold storage so my ice cream won’t melt and my heavy cream won’t spoil?”
“Is it the battery? I hope it’s the battery and not the starter or the alternator. How much did I pay for this battery? How much would a starter cost? If it’s the starter or alternator, I hope there’s a good YouTube video out there.”
“I could take an Uber home to meet the guy dropping off his bike. Then I could put my groceries in the fridge.”
After almost 20 years of driving my car, I was already familiar with the signs of a failing battery. I knew that I was pushing my luck as I’ve already had five hard starts prior to this unsuccessful attempt.
As luck would have it, my car gave me one more hard start.
“Do I have to go straight to AutoZone? Where did I buy this battery anyway?”
I made my way home as it was almost 12:00 PM and there was no time to make a detour at AutoZone to have the battery tested and replaced. I figured I could charge the battery for an hour before heading out. I also needed to figure out what kind of warranty the battery had.
As it turned out, I had an Interstate battery that I purchased in January 2021. It came with a 3-year warranty so I was still covered with two months left.
I had a smooth warranty experience at Costco. I didn’t have to provide a receipt as they were able to look it up with my membership card. Furthermore, the technician exchanged my battery without any hassle: no testing and no inspections. I did have to pay $46.33 which is the difference between the price of the battery in 2021 and the current price of the battery (plus taxes). According to the receipt I got, I paid $76.99 back in 2021 and now, almost three years later, that same battery costs $119.99.
I was fortunate to get my car battery replaced without having to call AAA for a jumpstart. It was also a big relief that the battery was the issue and not the starter or alternator. I remember the battery that came with my car lasting almost five years. It failed after four years and I was able to get it replaced under warranty without having to pay any differential. I shouldn’t expect batteries now to last as long. Perhaps the materials used for quality batteries are now being used for electric vehicles? I should put an alert on my calendar when the battery is almost out of warranty and I should also listen to my car when it’s telling me the battery is about to die.