It’s really in the rear?

My 2005 Saturn Ion, which I’ve nicknamed “Cardachrome,” has endeared itself to me.  It gets me where I need to go, without any struggles or hassles.

But a few days ago on the morning of the Capital District’s first cold snap of the season, it didn’t get me where I needed to go.  I left my house, pressed the “unlock door” button on my keychain, and the car unlocked as normal.  I got in.  Put on my seat belt.  Inserted the key in the ignition.  Turned the ignition.

Nothing.  Not even the rev-rev-rev-rev.

I tried again.


Now this is strange.  There’s more than half a tank of gas in the car, and it’s not like the battery got drained or anything.  I mean, the remote control on my keychain worked properly.  I turned on the car radio.  Yep.  It works.

So there’s enough juice in the battery to operate the car’s internal functions… but not enough to start the engine.

Time to call AAA and get my battery jumped.

Within five minutes, a truck pulled up.  The AAA driver confirmed my card, then attached jumper cables under my car hood.  “Start the engine, sir.”

I did as told.  The car roared to life as if nothing was wrong.

“The first time you have this problem, don’t worry about it,” he said to me.  “The second time you have this problem, you will need to get your battery checked.  If your battery’s original to the car, then it’s gotta be what, five, six, seven years old?”

I thanked him, took his advice, and drove to work.

Last Monday.  Another icy cold morning.  I wasn’t paying attention to the time – just getting ready for work, eating breakfast, watching SportsCenter – and then, at about 8:20, I went back out to Cardachrome, scraped the ice off the windshield, got in the car, buckled my seat belt, put the key in the ignition, turned the key –


Okay, this is the second time…

I’m going to need a new car battery for Cardachrome.

And whether it’s by chance or by happenstance, my home in Green Island is only a couple of blocks away from any number of auto mechanics and car repair shops.  I think there’s about four or five different car maintenance places – Lazzaro’s, Green Island Auto Body, Ernie’s – and since Ernie’s was the closest to me, I walked over there.

Ernie Remillard, owner of the shop, immediately sent one of his staff down to my car.  A few moments later, my battery was jumped and I was on my way to work.

That afternoon, I called Ernie’s and set up an appointment to replace my car battery.  I gave him the make, year and model of my car, and he said to bring the car in Tuesday morning and his staff could install a new battery for me.

Tuesday morning.  Cardachrome started without any trouble.  That’s fine.  But I didn’t want to take a chance on my car stalling out at a most inopportune time.  Can’t have that.

So, bright and early, I drove the car to Ernie’s.

“I can have it fixed in 30 minutes,” he said.  He immediately dispatched one of his employees to take care of my car.

In moments, the employee drove the Saturn into the garage bay.  The mechanic got out of the car, and popped the car’s trunk door.  The mechanic then started reaching around in the rear of my car.

“The battery’s in the back of the car?” I asked.  “I always thought batteries were in the front, and that only Volkswagen Beetles and NASCAR stock cars had batteries in the rear.”

“A lot of cars have them in the rear now,” Ernie replied.

Okay.  I then watched as the mechanic extracted the battery from my car trunk, and brought over a green-labeled battery for installation.

“Is that an Interstate battery?” I asked.

“Yep,” said Ernie.  “That’s what we use.”

“Does this mean that I have to start rooting for Kyle Bush in the NASCAR races?” I joked.

“Yep,” said Ernie.

Well, I suppose it’s better than rooting for Sears if he put a Die Hard in my car…

Ten minutes later, Cardachrome had a brand new battery, I paid Ernie for his speedy services, and drove to work.  The battery is guaranteed with a free replacement for the first eighteen months, so if it ever fails between now and May of 2013, I get a fresh battery without any charge.  Swank.

And I get my own shadetree mechanic independent local mechanic and his team, in case anything else happens to Cardachrome in the future.

Not a bad deal at all, when you think about it.