Tuesday, January 20, 2009

DIY Auto Repair

Yesterday Lise was downtown and called me to say the car would not start. We encountered the same issue a few weeks ago in Kvitsøy, but it appeared to be an isolated incident. Now I knew it needed a new battery. She asked if she should call for a tow. I said I would be there ASAP with a new battery. I couldn't bear the thought of paying a thousand dollars for a dealer to fix it. I have no idea what it would actually cost, but I imagine a tow in Norway and a battery would cost close to that amount.

A coworker was kind enough to drive me. We stopped by a parts store and picked up a battery for 1500 kr--- more than $200. I thought that was a bit steep for a battery, but remembered how much I was saving. We found the car downtown, and I set about removing the old battery. It was in the car, accessed through the rear hatch above the wheel well. I have never seen a battery so well attached. My crecent wrench was no match, so I had to make another errand to pick up a socket set. By the time I returned, Lise had convinced a building contractor to crawl back there and remove the battery clamp. And I mean crawl. With the battery disconnected, the hatch would no longer open. Crazy BMW.

I finally managed to swap out the battery, and the new one was a perfect fit--- I mean it was the identical size. This often is not the case with replacement batteries-- so I was feeling like it maybe was worth the price. As I replaced it, I noticed a small tube passing through the fender well. I assumed it was some sort of vent. When I returned home I did a bit of research, and realized I needed to connect the tube to the battery itself--- as it vents off the explosive hydrogen gas that is a byproduct of the recharging process. I can see the advantage that it is easy to change, and it stays clean, but I have no idea what was ever wrong with keeping it under the hood.

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