So that’s what happens when your car dies at speed

2014 Honda Odyssey, chugging along politely yesterday. I was headed to Home Depot to pick up some stuff for work when all the electronic displays in my car shut off, the radio went out, AC made a weird sound, and for a brief moment I was driving a brick as the power steering went out.

Everything kicked right back on with a forward collision warning light coming on, a battery indicator flashing, and the car was stuck in the same gear and not shifting. I decided to pass Home Depot and head for my mechanic which happened to be about five blocks away. Traffic was also light so I did not feel particularly like a road hazard as this was one right turn and a straight shot for a few blocks.

What a car blocking the entrance to a mechanic’s might look like

Car was running, but when I came to a stop I noticed the brakes were more manual than they normally would have been. All displays up, took off from the light and… yeah, stuck in first gear. It was mostly downhill so I got up to speed and was going to put it in neutral. These are things I would not have been doing if there had been a car on the road anywhere near me I’ll note. Went to shift to neutral, couldn’t. Weird.

Car spotted on the road, I pulled over into a parking lot and let them get by. Car died. Pressing the starter I got clickity clickity click. The mating call of a dead battery. Two blocks from my mechanic (.8 miles, two long blocks mind you.) $75 towing if I towed it. Road was dead.

Popped in my power bank/jump starter, started the car with zero issues. Checked the dash, everything fine except the warning lights that would be there for another 3-5 starts anyway. Did a couple of tests to verify that things were fine. Took the jumper battery off the car and headed that last two blocks to the mechanic.

I was pretty sure we were looking at a dead battery with a 50% chance of being a dead alternator.

Got to the turn to my mechanic’s lot, saw my first oncoming traffic and decided that turning left across traffic in a vehicle that was potentially going to die was not a great idea. So I waited, did a grandpa turn, and pulled into the mechanic’s where the car finally shut down, blocking their entry/exit.

I went in, explained that I had not intended to park like an asshole, they came out and got my car started and moved it.

It’s an alternator. Happened probably when I hit a large ponding water in a crazy rainstorm (same one that this crash happened in)

That was like crash #2 for the rainstorm. Can’t express how hard rain came down for all of 10 minutes but there were little lakes everywhere. Pretty sure that flooded my already meh alternator.

First time I’ve ever driven a brick before, but that’s what my car felt like when everything died. Everything was a fight. I’m pretty sure the car just died on me because I was talking about wanting to replace the engine with an electric one.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

One thought on “So that’s what happens when your car dies at speed

  • July 13, 2022 at 1:05 am
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    A car died on me at roughly 140 km/h / 85 mph on the highway.
    Was driving a Mercedes Benz S-Class test car when I wanted to save some logs. Too bad the logging command box was resting on the emergency stop mushroom button. Pulled on the emergency lane, turned everything off, waited a few minutes for the car to enter deep sleep, rearmed the mushroom and drove away.
    At first I thought the car let me down and I was already thinking about the whole experience of calling the emergency assistance and being towed. I only realized what happened while on the emergency lane.

    Reply

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