Regarding Safety

Get Some First Alert LED Emergency Flares for Your Car

Recorded on September 8th, 2016

AltTextHere The other night, when my car was slowly losing electrical power due to corroded battery terminals, I was getting very nervous that we’d have to pull over on some dark stretch of road if things went bad. At the time, I was without any emergency flares of any sort, and did not want some oncoming vehicle to not see us until it was too late.

Luckily, we made it home without the car dying, and right away I ordered sets of First Alert LED Emergency Flare 3-Packs for both of our cars. I’ve now put the AmazonBasics batteries in them and they are bright. Super-bright. Like, I-can’t-look-directly-at-them-bright. They can either flash or stay steadily on. They also seem like they’re made solidly, so I am feeling pretty good about having them on hand. I recommend them. Safety first!

(By the way, I’m too lazy to put Amazon Affiliate links into anything I link to on Amazon anymore, so I get exactly nothing from promoting stuff like this, except the knowledge that I’m making people safer.)

The Brightech Scorpion Battery Booster Has Now Saved Us Twice

Recorded on September 4th, 2016

In a previous post, I talked about how the Brightech Scorpion Battery Booster jumped my mother-in-law’s dead car. That was a low-stress situation. It was the middle of the day, we had fully functional cars close by, and we were in a familiar neighborhood.

But tonight my own car died as we tried to leave the Krispy Kreme parking lot well after sundown. Totally dead — not even any interior lights working. Fortunately, we had the charged Scorpion in the trunk. Again I tried to attached the negative clamp to the engine block. The engine tried to turn over, but it wouldn’t finish. I connected the negative clamp to the negative terminal of the battery, turned the key, and the engine started right up. OK, fine! I’ve learned my lesson with this thing. I don’t love hooking it up that way, but I’ll do it.

After we got on the road, my car continued to act wimpy for the next 10 miles until we got home. The instrument panel was definitely darker than usual, and every click of the turn signal caused those lights to dim a little. I just tried to give it all the gas I could to keep some kind of charge going to the electrical system. I think I actually got a shoulder cramp from being tense the whole way.

The problem must be the alternator, which I read tonight can lead to a bad battery. We will see what the shop has to say when they look at it. Until then, I probably won’t drive it. But when I do, the Scorpion will be with me.

Now I must order some bright LED emergency flares from Amazon.

The Brightech Scorpion Car Battery Jump Starter Works

Recorded on August 21st, 2016

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Well, I have now stress-tested the Brightech Scorpion Jump Starter, and amazingly, it works. Sarah’s mom’s car wouldn’t start the other day. We took the Scorpion to her house and she was surprised when I pulled it out of the carrying case. It’s about the size of a VHS tape — maybe even a little smaller. I opened the hood, attached the red clamp to the positive terminal of the battery and the the black clamp to the engine block (as everyone is taught to do when they jump-start a car). After confirming the green all-clear LED and pressing the “Boost” button, I got in the car and turned the key. It didn’t crank. The lights on the instrument panel barely came on.

Crap. This was going to be my moment to shine, with my piece of futuristic new tech. I went through the process a few more times, waiting longer and longer for the Scorpion to charge the car’s battery. Every time, nothing. Barely a click from the ignition. I really didn’t want to have to return it, but it looked like a failure.

I re-read the manual and noticed that the diagram and the instructions specifically said to attach the black clamp to the negative terminal of the battery. Every bone in my body said not to do that, but the cables coming out of the Scorpion weren’t long enough to reach any other obviously exposed metal part of the car’s chassis, so I tentatively touched the negative clamp to the battery, didn’t see a spark, and held my breath as I got back in the car. It started right up! The part of the car that I tried first must not have had enough clean metal to carry all the current to the battery. I gave the engine some gas for a few minutes, disconnected the Scorpion, and we made it to Advance Auto to buy a new battery.

To be clear, I do not recommend ever connecting the negative clamp of a jumper cable or car battery booster directly to the negative pole of a dead battery. But in this case it was my only option and it got us out of a jam. If you get the Scorpion, always try to find a clean piece of metal for the negative clamp before doing anything else. I am not a lawyer, but I did make it through 1.5 years of electrical engineering before I bailed out.

After that was all done, I probably could have tossed the Scorpion back in the trunk of my car and gotten a sufficient charge out of it if I had needed to in the future, but I charged it fully back up at home just to be safe.

Roadside Preparedness

Recorded on August 14th, 2016

My car wouldn’t start yesterday in the Food Lion parking lot. Maybe it was due to the extreme heat? Luckily, a friend of ours was in the parking lot, about to head to the same band practice I was going to. He gave me a boost and graciously loaned me his jumper cables for the week. I immediately decided to fix that problem ASAP.

Today, I looked around and saw this good article from the Wirecutter: The Best Gear for a Roadside Emergency. I ordered us the recommended AAA jumper cables and Brightech jump starters. The Brightech looks dorky, but the review was good. And who knew there were super-small lithium ion boosters now, instead of those bulky things that never held a charge 10 years ago? I will write more about how these work when they arrive.