The pros and cons of technology……

22 07 2013

As you may have read a couple of weeks ago, our Citroën died.  Glenda managed to flatten the battery by (probably) leaving the door ajar, and as it wasn’t driven for two or three days, that was long enough for the interior lights to flatten the battery.  Strangely enough, I jump started it off the ute no problem, and drove it to Noosa (~40km) where it started again on the key so I could drive it home… I of course assumed everything was OK again, until I attempted to start it again the next day……

What you have to understand is that these machines are highly complex, with electronic everything.  There’s even a low oil level warning light AS WELL AS a low oil pressure warning light…..  in fact there are warning lights for things I don’t even know exist… and the problem seemed to be that these were no longer coming on, and the car refused to start.  I tested every fuse, cleaned every connection I could find, checked the handbook cover to cover, not even my Citroën mechanic wanted to look at it.  And who is it who constantly professes that complexity is riddled with weaknesses?

We had in fact decided to get rid of this car.

Except that a couple of years ago, I joined a Yahoo group dedicated to owners of not just Citroëns, but the exact model we own.  This group is based in the UK, and I had never contacted them before, though I occasionally received stories about this and that owner having problems with whatever can go wrong with these cars.  I thought, “what the hell, I’ll ask for advice, the worst that can happen is the status quo……”

So I emailed the group a message, and it was obviously moderated, and nothing happened for a couple of weeks.  Until this morning.

This bloke called DaveK sent me, from his iPad, “Greetings to OZ members. Here in England it’s as hot as a dingo’s didgeridoo. (And you won’t want to hear your cricket score).  Long shot, but after replacement of battery, switch on ignition and wait about twenty seconds for ‘systems to initialise’ before starting engine.  Iffy battery can cause all sorts of problems.”

My first reaction was “nah…….  why would that work, I’ve already driven it since the battery went flat…”  But what did I have to lose…?  So I hopped in, turned the key on (which sets off this really loud alarm telling you there is no hydraulic pressure to run the suspension, brakes, and power steering) and waited, and waited, and waited…… and almost turned the ignition off in disgust when one, then two, then three, then all the warning lights came on….. and she started first kick!  I tell you, I’m prepared to lose the ashes for help like that…….

So, whilst technology had me on the one hand tearing my hair out, how amazing is it that I was able to get free advice like that from half way around the world…….?  The internet is just extraordinary…. and I don’t know how we’ll cope come the day it disappears.




11 responses

22 07 2013
Terry J Wall (@terryjw7)

Just love it! When humanity at least gets to understand what some other dick head never quite got right (or so we thought).
My Story: 2005 Ford Falcon (OK forget the gas guzzling comments) delivered us safely to friends place for an evening of enjoyment. 10.30 pm we are off home. NO we are not. just a clunk when the key was turned. Taxi home. Next morning join up with NRMA and the man says “your battery is fucked or words to that effect”.

I think and probably say “it got us here and 3 hours later just a clunk?” Nah the starter motor has jammed its little cog on the big flywheel. Nah says the man in the smart blue kit. Watch. He puts a carry on charger to the motor and it starts. Holy crappers. I sell my spanners and open another bottle.

22 07 2013

Mike – 2001 RAV4, started shifting funny. Toyota dealership quoted $1200-$4000, depending, with no guarantee that that would fix it. It was “probably” the engine control computer and it “might have” damaged the transmission. Unbelievable.

Instead, we did a Google search which told us this was a symptom of a problem that had actually caused a free fix (not a recall) in the US. So we took the engine control computer out (20 minutes) and sent it to a place in the US that repairs them for this specific problem. For $150! The car has worked fine ever since.

Seriously, what DID we do without the internet!?

22 07 2013

Having had a similar problem with a car battery and having called out the AA I was surprised to find out that modern cars have a period of up to 1 hour after they have turned off to stabilise and shut down specific components of the car. No longer is it a case of jump out lock and walk away. A Citroen with an electronic handbrake will continue to pull up the brake as they cool, to ensure that the car does not run away etc. It was interesting to see the amp meter connected to the cars system dropping over time, but never ever reaching a point where energy was not consumed for some aspect of the vehicle e.g. courtesy light, car alarm, etc.

22 07 2013

That is interesting…… I didn’t realise cars now came with electronic handbrakes! I know some Citroens now have electronic steering, which I personally find very worrisome, because if my car can be immobilised by some silly need for a reset, what would happen if you suddenly couldn’t steer your car because of some similar quirk…?

When I bought the battery which resides in my ute (a VERY simple vehicle) the warranty clearly stated that it was not suitable for modern vehicles with all the bells and whistles…. it was very cheap, came with just 6 months warranty, but is STILL going strong, touch wood…. obviously if the electric load on your battery never ceases, even after turning everything off, then such a cheap battery might let you down…… believe me, this is the last time I buy an all bells and whistles vehicle! Not that we will be driving for too much longer.

As an aside, has anyone else heard of this….?

10 bucks a litre:

Dick Smith explores Australia’s options as the era of cheap and abundant energy
is replaced by an age of scarcity and high cost.

ABCTV Thursday 1st August.

22 07 2013
len gardener

yes lots of help available online, daughters boy friend had a sylvia I found a Sylvia online club and got him an answer.

batteries always the weakest link, on many past occasions have helped others when battery failed in mid their trip, many failures come about from low battery water and dirty terminals as well modern batteries just don’t last for years and years, learnt from EB ford to replace battery every 2 years regardless, this came when less than 3 year old battery karked it on servo’ driveway and auto locked car with keys in ignition.

anyhow keep terminals clean and battery topped up will help.


22 07 2013

Modern batteries are made lighter and lighter, just as the loads from all the equipment they put in cars are going up. They now make plates paper thin, undoubtedly because of Peak Lead and the peak causing the cost of lead to skyrocket….

22 07 2013
len gardener

they don’t use lead anymore as far as I know they use zinc I think, and yes too much technology in cars for the power that a smallish battery un-serviced can provide.

that is why dead batteries have no collection value, no lead.

every thing is peak is it, how about evolving to use a more readily available cheaper product in construction.


22 07 2013

No Len, they STILL use Lead!

22 07 2013
len gardener

ok just they have no scrap collection value, as the old tar cased lead batteries did and they could be reconditioned, used to buy recon’ one aa could not even then afford a new battery.


22 07 2013

Actually, they ARE worth money, you just have to find a battery recycling specialist. I have about 6 batteries here, some from our old solar power system, that I have to drive 50km to their resting place, which is why it’s not done yet, but I’m told they’d give me $30 for them…

Garages rip you off by CHARGING to take them off you, only because the public has no idea……

24 07 2013

Damn! Almost got myself a cheap car 😉

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