Allow me to reintroduce myself, my name is HOOOOO …ly hell, what did I just do?
I have done some dumb shit in my day. But last night, I managed to make a simple mistake that could potentially cost me a few bucks. Last night, I decided to swap in a new battery on my Jag. A friend had a pair of Optima Red Tops he was supposed to review, but he was sent the wrong sizes that he needed. He offered them to me if I could do a simple write-up on them. I said yes, and they’ve been sitting in the corner of my garage for at least a month now. So I got an itch to look at an engine and touch a tool. A battery swap should take five minutes, anyway.
When pulling the old battery, I should’ve taken note that although the ground terminal had a little corrosion on it, it was minor. Very minor, in fact, but it still caught my eye. What didn’t catch my eye was the fact that my battery wires in the Jag are black for the negative and beige for the positive. So I wasn’t thinking about the wires, I just assumed the one with a little more corrosion on it was the positive terminal side. I don’t know why I thought that, I just did.
I picked up the Optima. Set it in the battery tray and tightened the tie-down. Then I put the black battery cable on the positive side. It wouldn’t go on easily, which should’ve given me pause but I just assumed the terminal ends were dumb Jaguar things. So I smacked it with a hammer a few times and got it to sit better. Yes, I’m serious. After that, I grabbed the beige battery cable and put it on the negative terminal.
It snapped a bit more than you typically hear when popping on the negative battery cable. And then a good bit of smoke poured out the wire end right where it connects to the alternator. Maybe a small bit of smoke up where that cable runs back to the firewall. I popped the negative cable off immediately and stood there wondering what the fuck just happened. Unsure of what it did, I put that terminal end back on. That’s going to be your favorite part here. And yes, it did it all again. The wires were all very hot to the touch too. So I popped it off once more. Then looked down at the battery on the ground. The older battery I just pulled from the car. I remember the orientation in which it sat in the car before I removed it, and I could easily see the plus sign and minus sign. And that’s when I knew I fucked up.
This is a colossally stupid mistake on a job that takes no skill and requires minimal time and effort. Yet, I boffed it pretty fucking good. The Optima is in correctly now. I have since turned the key to the On position, and the electronics turned on. But I’m going to start it in the morning, see what the volt meter says, and go from there. It’s quite likely that I just fried an alternator that has barely been in the car for a few months. I’ve likely cooked some wiring as well. I’m not sure if it was a fusible link that went up, or something worse. I’ll report back soon.
For now, why don’t you help ease my pain with some of your own dumb stories…