It’s driving time again. My rotator-cuff surgery is healing well, and the surgeon has given me the okay to drive stick-shift cars. So I’ve been driving the Giulia Super for the past couple of weeks and thinking about how much I appreciate vintage cars, the mastery they require and how intuitive they are to service.
But last Sunday I was in a “luxo” mood, and I decided it was time to take the 2001 Porsche 911 Twin Turbo out for a spin. It had been a month or so since I last drove it.
Most of my cars have trickle chargers on them, and they always fire right up. However, I didn’t put a trickle charger on the Turbo when I put it away. It should, as a modern car with a modern battery, be able to sit for a couple of months without needing attention.
I was wrong. I clicked the remote, and the car didn’t beep or flash. I used the key to unlock it, and the interior lights stayed off when I opened the door.
This was one very dead battery.
We have plenty of jumper cables and battery chargers in the SCM gear locker. The 911’s battery is in the front compartment and easy to reach. But there is a catch: the switch that pops the hood is electric.
How was I supposed to get power to the dead battery if I couldn’t open the hood?
I texted Gabe Wiley, the service tech from Sunset Porsche. Even though it was Valentine’s Sunday, he responded immediately. He directed me to pull the cover off the fuse block and locate a red tab with a picture of the hood on it.
“Put power to that red tab, and the hood will open,” he wrote. “Then you can get to the battery.”
I pulled the Alfa Super up next to the 911 and ran jumper cables from the Super’s battery to the red tab and a ground. Of course, the instant there was power, the horn started honking. Hitting the button on the remote fixed that, and then I was able to get the trunk to pop open.
A couple of minutes later, I had a charger attached to the 911 battery. The next morning, the car fired right up.
I’m thinking it may be time for a new battery. The old one isn’t date-coded, but it wasn’t new when I got the 911, and I’ve been driving the car for a year now.
I also think I will invest in one of those little jump boxes you store in your glovebox. I’ve heard good things about them, and it would keep me from depending on jumper cables and other cars.
I’ve solved my problem, but I can’t help but wonder why Porsche doesn’t have a manual pull for the front trunk. That would make things much easier. But I know that in general, cars today are not built for ease of repair. It seems that increasingly, the solution to your problem is a flatbed tow to the repair shop.
Old cars may not be more reliable than new cars, but at least you can hope to troubleshoot your old-car problems with common sense.