Monday, September 29, 2008

Blade Asia Trinoma Fiasco: Reversed Polarity Car Battery Installation

It was a day I never knew would happen to me. Just got back from Cainta at Town and Country Homes from a birthday party when me and friends
decided to chat over coffee at Starbucks Trinoma, something I won't normally do since I find the coffee too pricey. It was a Saturday so parking at Trinoma
at the mall is hard due to the number of people going there on a weekend. The North parking, my preferred one was full and had no choice but to park at Mindanao parking, with it's narrow lanes and dark place, it's not recommended for newbie drivers due to the possibility of your car to be sideswiped or scraped by the walls and columns.

After the chit-chat, me and my friends parted ways and I proceeded to my parking slot on the rooftop of Mindanao parking facing SM City North EDSA but I learned later that my car, a 2006 Toyota Vios's battery died on me. I can't start it. A 1.5 with an automatic transmission, you can't also jump-start it by having it pushed, something you see most of the time.

I immediately requested guards on duty for a series connection (so-called though it's actually a parallel battery connection) if they have spare batteries for dead ones. Trinoma guards were helpful but it took more than 30 minutes for them to come to help and found out they just requested a guy with a car to assist do the "series" connection wusing an improvised cable to connect his car battery to mine.

It didn't work; my car won't start.

After the futile exercise, I was advised to just buy a new battery either from Motolite via delivery or buy it myself at Blade Asia, a car accessories store, in Trinoma.

With the new battery in tow paid by a credit card, the Blade Asia staff followed us to the our parking slot and installed it without much hesitation. When he asked me to start my car, the dahsboard won't even light up. That's when I knew that the battery has been connected in reversed! He tried to reverse the battery again to the correct polarity but again, no lights, car won't start and only a single indicator light went on pointing to something: please have your car serviced!

at this juncture, the Blade Asia Staff went on panic mode and called his companion who checked the fuses for any blown ones. He found some and replaced them with ones on stock. Car can now start but the on-board computer is dead, dashboard lights still off.

It's already 10pm, two hours elapsed already and I'm hungry, no free dinner from Blade Asia for their inconvenienced customer and Trinoma's restaurants were already closing.

It's during this time that they called another higher-up, someone they said is an expert on car electrical system. It's here that i learned that there's a main fuse at the positive electrode of the battery, a fuse quite new that it's not available at their stores but had to order from Toyota Casa. They made a temporary fuse by using copper wire, actually a direct connection.

This time, my car started; heaved a sigh of relief, particularly for the staff who installed the battery for I know any expense will be shouldered by him. Blade Asia promised me to replace the fuse after three days when Toyota delivered them.

I got home at 1am in the morning.

The next morning, I informed my officemates of what happened and requested (I don't own the car yet, it'll be mine after 5 years) for a demand letter to be issued to Blade Asia to immediately fix my car.

I drove my car to the office for three days always thinking that the polarity reversal might have created latent problems that will only show up over time. It was already Wednesday when Blade Asia got the replacement fuse and demanded them to come to my office in Makati to install it.

With the fuse installed, my car's already normal, even up to now, about two months from the day I will always remember.

Lessons learned:

Have Motolite Battery Delivery always on hand, the only car battery delivery in the country at the moment. I hesitated to call them thinking it's faster if I just buy the battery myself.

Know where the fuses are in your car, learn a little DIY car electrical repairs. This incident made me study my car's electricals. I can now repair it myself in case of
busted fuses et al.

If you also have an automatic transmission vehicle, better if you have a series cable in case your battery dies on you. It's about P200 only at auto shops. Cheaper if you can build it yourself, DIY style using a large AWG cable and dinosaur clips.

Expect this thing to happen if your car's more than two years old. Imagine what you'd do if it happens in the dead of the night at a place where there are no cellphone signals-- scary!

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