My Car Is Feeling Drained

While one of our cars is reaching geriatric status, as far as cars go, the other is still a spring chicken. Purchased after the untimely death of our Plymouth – thank you Valvoline instant oil change for forgetting to replace a cap so all the oil drained out – our Hyundai Tucson came to us as nearly new.

Being nearly new, we’ve had few problems with it, and the few problems we’ve had were due to the dealer being cheap. The tires were swapped at the last minute and replaced with nearly bald tires, even though the car had less than 20K miles on it. And the battery was likely an old battery.

So when the battery died in December, we gave a long distance middle finger to the dealer yet again and settled on the fact that we had an old battery. Not wanting to spend a lot of money, we took the car to Wal-Mart for a shiny new battery, and soon all was well again.

Except in February, when the car wouldn’t start. At this point, we were convinced there was something wrong with the car, not the battery. This was a brand new battery! Maybe it was the alternator? We called AAA again, and the gentleman who assisted us ran a few tests and told us the battery wouldn’t hold a charge. He assured us it was a defective battery, and suggested returning to Wal-Mart and asking them for a replacement.

We took it back for a new battery, selecting a different store in the off-chance it was a bad batch of batteries. Thankfully, they replaced it with little argument. Shiny new battery, happy car – the end, right?

Nope. On Friday, the car was dead. Again.

At this point, I was convinced there was something wrong with the car. Something was drawing a charge from the battery, even when the car was off, causing it to drain the battery. I couldn’t even think of the costs involved in diagnosing and fixing an electrical problem in the car. We’re still mostly unemployed, and a costly car repair is not in the budget.

Another call was placed to AAA this morning for a jump start. When the technician came out, he listened to our battery history and ran a few tests on the car. Turns out, the battery again wouldn’t hold a charge. When we mentioned how unlikely it was for us to have two defective batteries, he printed out a test strip, showing that there were no electronic components drawing a charge from the battery while the car was off. “Take that to Wal-Mart and demand your money back,” he told us, “You’ve got a bad battery.”

Instead of replacing the battery at Wal-Mart again, we chose to buy a battery from AAA. It carries a warranty that guarantees they’ll service the battery for free if there are any problems in the next three years. And any service calls for the battery will not count against our yearly number of free service calls. Hooray!

Now we have to return the Wal-Mart battery, and I expect a full refund. I hope they’ll put a little more effort into making sure they have trustworthy batteries. We’re lucky that both times the car battery died, the car was at home instead of out somewhere inconvenient with two children in the backseat. I certainly won’t be buying a battery from them again – one defective battery is bad luck, but two is a problem.

Wal-Mart? You might want to fix that.

(And while I’m on a roll with ranting, I’ll add: Old Navy? WTF is up with your jeans? Your Sweetheart “Classic rise” is supposed to fall just below the waist, and last I checked, my waist is not just above my pubic bone. I like my jeans to be at least as high up as my underwear.)

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  1. I have the same issue with Sweetheart jeans. I wear them because I have a hard time finding jeans that even come close to fitting, and they fit, but they’re still a much lower rise than advertised!

    Thinking happy battery thoughts for you.

  2. I am so done with low rise jeans,pants, shorts–all of it! Where am I supposed to find shorts that fit?? Oy.

  3. Christina,
    Did you happen to see this article on Yahoo today?

    It seems Wal-mart is on a roll…good luck with the return!

  4. Condo Blues says:

    What is it with Wal Mart’s auto department? My car was all screwed up after I got an oil change there and their people didn’t replace my oil pan correctly. They swore up and down it wasn’t their fault. I didn’t save the paperwork and couldn’t prove that they were at fault, I just decided that I wouldn’t get oil changes there. The only reason I went there was because they had a after so many oil changes get one free program anyway.

  5. We had battery issues with our new used minivan shortly after we first bought it. The batteries were bad but it was also not helped by the fact that my kids loved to leave the over head lights on. Hopefully this one will be the one that sticks around so you can stop having to worry if your car will start or not.

  6. I got stuck on the fact that the freakin’ dealer switched out the tires and battery on you in the first place. I’ve got lots of bad to say about Wal-Mart from a corporate standpoint, but I’ll bet it won’t be much of a battle for you at all.

  7. Anonymous says:

    That’s what you get for shopping at WalMart.

  8. My sister used to work at Wally World in TLE (Tire Lube Express) among other departments… she refuses to take her new car there for oil changes. She witnessed first hand how badly the employees mangle autos.

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