So we had an adventure last night. We were on our way home from having a drink and I pulled over into the left hand lane to make our way home. The car turned off at the intersection, as it’s designed to do. We have that feature where the car turns itself off when it’s at a full stop and then starts itself up again when you release the brake.
There’s an IBS, or Intelligent Battery Sensor, that tells this nifty feature to not do its thing if the battery voltage is low. They don’t want you stranded at an intersection with the car failing to start. This feature has worked for us in the past. Living in the desert southwest we go through batteries quickly due to the summer heat. Several folks have told us about this and it’s apparently fairly common knowledge that you’re going to replace your battery once a year. When the car stops turning itself off and on and I subsequently check the battery indicator, we replace the battery. We did this six months ago. Yay for battery warranties!
So the car turned itself off. The light turned green, I let up my foot, and the car tried to start itself and then everything went black. All the lights went off (it’s never done that before, even with a failing battery), I couldn’t turn the flashers on (the indicator on the dash would just flash erratically) and the gear shifter got cranky. It took some effort to get it into park, and even after I did that I couldn’t turn the ignition switch to off. Turning the ignition switch to ‘start’ did absolutely nothing. Even when then former batteries were at their last gasp the car would at least try to start.
I opened the door and a relay under the dash started clicking really fast and a faint, white indicator light under the dash started blinking. The car was acting like the computer that controls everything had lost its mind or locked up, much like a blue screen of death in Microsoft Windows.
The (presumably) homeless folks sitting on the curb offered to help us push the car but we couldn’t get the gear shift to move back anywhere near neutral. So, Earl called a tow truck, while I waved cars around us.
I must take a moment to give a positive thank you and shout out to all the folks that offered to help us. There were a lot of them and many wanted to make sure we were safe.
The tow truck arrived 30 or so minutes after the call, and friendly Chris took apart the gear shifter so he could get the car into neutral. The car was towed to the Jeep dealer and we called home so someone could pick us up at the adjacent Walgreens.
We’re waiting to hear back on the diagnosis of the car. We bought our Jeep Cherokee back when we lived in Upstate New York in late 2016. The car is still in fantastic shape, but the mechanics are starting to show their age. We’ve been on numerous adventures in this Cherokee and it’s been across the United States a few times. It’s been licensed in three different states. I’m not ready to say goodbye to this car yet; hopefully they don’t have to replace the entire computer system and it’s just a cranky battery or something.