The independent woman’s guide to car batteries.

It’s a Monday public holiday, the weather is unseasonably warm for a Melbourne March, and you’re looking forward to a productive day of exploring, shopping and coffee. You leap into your car and try to turn over the motor and instead of that satisfying chugga-chk-VROOM sound, your engine bay erupts with a noise like a band of rhesus monkeys on bath salts playing dubstep with castanets.

Congratulations! Your battery is rooted. But don’t panic, I’ve put together step-by-step instructions on how to remedy this mechanical malady.

Step 1. Open your bonnet and look for crazed castanet monkeys. Find nothing.

Step 2. Call your dad. He refuses to travel the 3000km immediately to help you, because he doesn’t love you at all, obviously. But he does advise you to remove the contacts and clean them before you decide to replace the battery.

Step 3. Walk to the shops and purchase an adjustable wrench.

Step 4. Buy a new couch cover and throw cushions while you’re there. Ooh, and this candle holder is cute.

Step 5. Locate car battery under bonnet. It’s important to assert your dominance by waving the wrench at it in a threatening manner. Show your teeth a little, too.

Step 6. While repeating the litany “lefty loosey, righty tighty,” undo whatever nuts are anywhere in the vicinity of the battery. Yes, even that one. Ignore the green fluid trickling out.

Step 7. Realise you have stupid, useless fragile girl-hands, and are physically incapable of removing the bolts from their seats. Also your reckless spanner technique is shaving large chunks of lead off the entire arrangement.

Step 8. Phone RACV Roadside Assist. Feel pathetic and chastened. Open a beer and eat a cupcake.

Step 10. Explain to RACV man about the rhesus dubstep castanets and that you’ve already loosened the nuts to clean the contacts. Feel glowy and smug when he gives you a surprised glance and says “oh, you know about cars!”

Step 11. Realise that comment was sexist, not complimentary.

Step 12. Remember you can’t even undo nuts. No harm, no foul, RACV man.

Step 13. Give the RACV man $160 for a new battery for which you could have paid half the price at Kmart if you weren’t weak as piss and could undo the goddamn battery terminals yourself.

Step 14. Have another beer. Eat another cupcake.

* * * * * * *

In all seriousness, there are few things that piss me off more than being unable to perform simple tasks because of physical limitations. I’m certainly not alone in this, but I translate incursions on my independence as attacks on my self-esteem. I guess it’s one of the perils of living as a single woman – you expect yourself to be capable of tackling everything, and when it turns out you can’t, it’s like a host of Disney Princesses suddenly materialise out of the mirror and start singing about how you need a prince to change your tire and move that heavy book shelf into the spare room. On the other hand, I suspect these issues would be far worse if I was a man.

At least I have a nice couch cover now.


28 thoughts on “The independent woman’s guide to car batteries.

  1. You forgot to throw the spanner at the ground and storm off in a huff.

    ” I suspect these issues would be far worse if I was a man.”
    As a man who has hand strength issues, I think you’re probably right.

    • Hey I paid $8 for that spanner, I can’t afford to fling it around willy-nilly.

      Yeah, it’s easy to forget that women kinda get a free pass when it comes to being helpless. Not that that’s a good thing, mind you.

    • I’m using the 44 gallons of coyote urine for liver cleansing Mike. It’s homeopathic dynamite and I’ll be saving 20 gallons for a friend who has recurrent respiratory infections.

  2. I was tempted to say something like SQUEEE pink pillows!! But maybe that wouldn’t help our gender much. Although I have to say, that couch revamp is awfully sweet.

    I like the idea of bearing your teeth at a car. If I had thought of that this summer my car would probably have bite marks in it by now. The engine’s not the only thing with angry primate blood in it. Honestly, I think they build these cars as a form of torture.

    • I would die of teh cute if I found squirrels under my bonnet.

      Dad had a rat living under his for a while. Apparently it chewed everything up and wasn’t very cute at all.

      • Oh yeah. It’s a serious problem. We have to leave the hoods up all the time while parked and spray the engine compartment with coyote urine to discourage mice/rats in there. They chew up wiring, cables, and hoses, get trapped in all sorts of lovely places like the ventilation system, and then die. Last spring we had the Yaris in the shop for a MONTH. They had to strip the entire interior out. Cost the insurance company over $7,000.

        • Could you please send me a 44 gallon drum of coyote urine Kim. I’ll be happy to pay the postage. My rats have set up home in the car aircon ducts, complete with lounge chairs and cute pink cushions and they only leave to dine out at the adjacent electrical cable restaurant.

          My mechanic suggested that a small LED light to illuminate the engine bay at night will discourage rodents. I’d better try that before you rush out into the snow to collect urine.

        • Omg, that site just made my day Kim. SO MUCH PEE. Dad you can buy mountain lion piss for the feral pigs this season! MOUNTAIN LION PISS!!

          I’m way too excited for this time of the morning.

  3. Fantastic piece!

    I’m with you but for the beer and cupcakes, since I can’t eat gluten or be hospitalised. I’d settle for whiskey and maybe another 5.

    I *used* to be able to do a lot of this handy work (replaced a water filter on the farm truck when I was about 9yo) but those days are long gone after all the damage in my spine caught up with me (sounds weird but I drop anything, let alone can’t open a jar).

    I remember my godfather getting cross at me (he’d only ever been cross TWICE: once when I accidentally mucked up his yard by driving over it — in fairness, I didn’t understand the concept of suburbs and yards, coming from the Ozarks and this next time…) because I couldn’t change a flat tire.

    I rang him (he was in the same county, so that’s like ‘in the neighbourhood’ to me, especially at 20yo) and he came but as he did each step, he ‘made me’ do it, too. When we got to putting the wheel with bad tire in the back of the car (to take it to the shop for repair), I couldn’t lift it.

    Tried and tried and tried.

    Finally, he hanged his head and said, ‘You better buy a roadside assistance policy.’


    • The spirit is willing but the flesh is incapacitated, eh. Oh, to be a strong burly type. If it’s any consolation, I have a hard time lifting a wheel too (I recently had a whole new set shipped to my house to replace all the ones I’ve buggered on my car – it was fun carting them around to various places to get matching bolts and finding someone to apply them to the vehicle)

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