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September 17, 2018

High-class Jeep Problems

I’m fortunate enough to own two Jeep Wranglers, both of which I’ve had since new. My “old” one is a 2000 Wrangler Sahara. The “new” one is a 2009 Wrangler Sahara. And the 18-going-on-19-year-old is now relegated to “fun.” I keep it parked in the garage with the tops off (it came equipped with both hard and soft tops), and just drive it when the weather is suitably warm and sunny. (And it's not too far from home, because it's a little unreliable.)

Lately here in Chester County, PA, we’ve had a lot of rain, so my "fun" Jeep has been garaged most of the time. But finally this past weekend the clouds parted long enough for me to take it out for a spin. Except I didn’t. Dead battery. Really dead.

I tried jumping it, but wasn’t getting enough current flowing through my cheap, thin gauge jumper cables to fire it up. Fortunately my next door neighbor has a fully equipped garage and was inside puttering about. So I walked over and begged for a jump. He produced a much more robust pair of cables, and we got the Jeep running again with minimal effort. He then generously offered a battery charger that he said would fully recharge the batter after a number of hours. I could barely believe my eyes: the charger had a Montgomery Ward brand label. (Montgomery “Monkey” Ward is a long-defunct department store chain. It turned belly up in 2001.)

I left it running on my Jeep for a day or so, and the result was a fully charged battery. I got in the Jeep and took it out for a quick spin - long enough to fill the gas tank - and noticed almost immediately: the dome light had been left on. Sigh. The hazards of owning a just-for-fun vehicle.

Fortunately, my resourceful neighbor (I'll call him Brian) had also pointed out a simple, long-term solution: a battery tender. These are small devices that you attach to a vehicle battery and plug into a wall socket. They trickle a charge into a battery until it's fully charged and then automatically shut themselves off. A quick visit to Amazon and a few clicks, and I had one on its way for about $23.

My new battery tender is shown in the photograph below. Note the satisfying green glow. (I'll figure out a more elegant way to rig this later.)

Unfortunately, it’s gray and rainy again with the dregs of Tropical Storm Florence about to sweep across my area. Maybe later in the week it'll clear up, but with winter over the not-too-distant horizon, my days of "fun" are numbered.

BTW, anyone who has two Jeeps – no matter how old and decrepit they are – is definitely living high class in my book.

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