1996 Ford Ranger, Battery Went Dead

This 1996 Ford Ranger wound up at my door with a dead battery. Well almost it was stopped in the median in front of my shop. This is going to be more of a people story rather than an actual repair as I never fixed the vehicle and it is the most simplistic of diagnoses.

I asked the gentleman what happened and his reply was “I was just driving along and it just cranked off”.

Huh? I had never heard that phrase before. I asked again and got the same short reply. I decided I needed another approach, so I  asked him what it was doing now? “Nuthin” was the reply.

What do you mean by Nuthin? Does the starter work? “Nope” was the reply this time.

On a guess, my next question was, Do you think the battery might be dead? “Could be, ya know yesterday when I was at Walmart, someone told me I had a belt hanging out, under my truck. I told them is was just the power steerin belt, cause it was kinda hard to turn the steering wheel”.  “It drove fine going home last night” “Didn’t give no trouble going to the grocery store this morning” “Just cranked off right out there in the hiway”. 

Well needless to say, I really did not want to bother with this guy but I couldn’t just leave him out there in the highway. So I grabbed a jump box and we went out to the truck. I told him to pop the hood latch and crank the engine when I told him to. I looked down and there was no belt. Hooked up the jump box and told him to start it. It started right up.

He shouted out ” Everything looks fine now, I’m gonna go on home” I explained that the belt was missing and he would never make it home, the truck was running off of power from my jump box. I positioned the jump box out of the way of harm under the hood and eased the hood down on top of it. I told him to drive very slowly around to the front of my shop and I would charge the battery. To my surprise he did just that and there was no hood flying up into the windshield.

It is hard to see but the belt operates the alternator and the water pump as well as the power steering and a/c compressor.

I connected the battery charger and instructed him to turn the ignition off.

He got out of the truck and came around to the front of the vehicle where I was standing. The engine was still running and I pointed that fact out to him. “Oh I have to pull a fuse to make it crank off”  He reached right in the fuse box and removed the fuse and the engine shut off. That is my hand in the next picture. I thought it might be too rude to take a picture of him doing it.

“Yeah there is a 12 dolla part that is broke in there that lets you crank it off”

“Can’t get No one to put it in for me though” “A fella was supposed to come and do it but he hasn’t showed up yet”

I wonder why? Was my thought.

He looked at me and said ” You reccon I can cripple limp this thing back home after you charge the battery”

How far away do you live?

“Only about 7 or 8 miles”

Sir, your water pump is not working. It needs a belt before you can drive it.

“I’ll have to get a belt and someone to help me put it on”

I know you arer going to be thinking “Sparky you can put the belt on for him, go ahead and get his business”
Sparky does not like being around someone this ignorant and I sure do not want him for a customer.  Besides it is so ridiculous to this point I just want to see how it plays out.

Well I continued to charge the battery while he dialed a list of people that might come and give him a ride home. He had to call about four numbers before someone agreed  to pick him up. About thirty minutes later he was gone and said he would be back that evening to get it. Well it turned out he could not get everything arranged and called to tell me it would be the next day before he came and got his truck. At the end of the day I put the truck in the back yard and called it a day.

The next morning around 10:00 am he and his buddies showed up. I had already brought the truck around and parked it on the side lot. I still had the keys in my shirt pocket so I met them at the truck and handed them off. I kept an eye on them to make sure they were not going to dump anything in the yard.  The hood went up and all three were in there doing something.

I looked out later and the owner was all alone and the other vehicle was gone. I thought this is not looking good. About 45 minutes later the other vehicle was back and all three were at it again. I went about my morning and the next time I looked the truck owner was coming towards me. They need help, imagine that. They did not have an inch and an eighth wrench. I did’t know why they needed such a big wrench but grabbed my set of big wrenches from under my roll around tool box, opened the set up, and handed him the wrench.

I don’t  remember needing wrench that big to change the belt, so I positioned my self to see if they were going to try and kill each other with it.  They were back under the hood in no time. There was no screams for help so I went back to work.

I heard the truck crank up and the hood come down so I looked up to see if my wrench was coming or going. The truck owner was walking back with it in his hand. This is the part that really threw me. Up until this point I perceived this vehicle owner as challenged to say the least.

He walked over with the wrench. Wiped it clean with a rag. Put it in the correct slot. Rolled up the wrench set and placed them exactly where I had picked them up from. He thanked me and asked how much he owed me. I was so floored by him acting normal and responsible I told him to have a good day.

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