My car battery died last week. Since I've never been very handy with tools and I know very little about car maintenance, taking the car in for an oil change and replacing some tires are about all that I've done; I decided to take care of this myself as the first step towards becoming more knowledgeable about auto repairs.
I read the basic instructions for what to do and got a replacement battery from the store. Being not handy at all, I just had some basic tools (screwdriver, wrench, pliers, and hammer) available. I decided to give it a try with what I've got. Once I popped the hood and took a close look at how the battery is attached, I realized that this isn't as easy as I had hoped. The battery was held in place with a strap that's screwed in on both sides. The clamps to both the positive and negative terminals are screwed in and pretty tight near the top area of the battery. The battery itself is positioned a bit lower than rest of the engine so it's a bit difficult to access it.
I began with trying to remove the clamps. The battery was quite old and the screws hold the clamps on were stuck on pretty tight. I started with the wrench but it was too big to fit around the bolt of the screws. I then tried the pliers. I got a hold of the bolt but it didn't hold it very well and I didn't have much leverage to twist it. Every twist seems to just slide the pliers against the bolt instead of actually loosening it. After about 15 minutes of struggling, I managed to take off one clamp. I decided to take a break and try to take off the strap instead. This proved to be even harder. The strap was bolted down on both sides towards the bottom side of the battery. It was very difficult to reach and impossible to see once I have my hand over it. I tried using the pliers and guiding it by feel alone, but without being able to see what I'm doing, it was near impossible to get a good hold of the bolt to loosen it. After about 20 minutes of struggling and cursing, I gave up.
I live in Phoenix and it's about 105 degrees in my garage. So after over half an hour of this, I'm drenched in sweat and I've only gotten one of two clamps off and none of the bolts holding the strap. It was pretty clear to me that I don't have the right tools to do this. I went online, went over a few how-to guides and videos on battery replacement and went to the store to get the tools they recommended. I picked up a set of socket wrenches, a wrench extender, and a grip handle.
With the 10mm socket wrench, the fit was perfect for the bolt on the battery clamp. Attaching the handle gave me a ton of leverage so the stuck bolt wasn't a problem at all. With the new tools, I got the remaining clamp off in a matter of seconds. Now onto the harder task of removing the bolts on the strap at the bottom. Here was where the extender came in handy. Again the 10 mm socket fit the bolt perfectly. With the extender, how low the bolts were wasn't a problem at all. I attached the handle to the extender and started taking the bolt off. Again after mere seconds, the bolt was off. I repeated this with the other side. While I was taking off the last bolt, I caught myself with a silly grin on my face. This was just so much easier, and compared to the half hour of sweat, pain, grunting, and cursing, this was so much more fun! So within 10 minutes of using my new tools, I was able to get the old battery off, place the new one in, get it strapped down, and get the clamps back on the terminals. Mission accomplished!
After this exercise, as I thought about the painful experience I had before getting the right tools and how easy the task became after; I realize that this is exactly what many of our customers go through. When we talk to them before getting our automation solution, we hear many horror stories of repetitive manual tasks taking days, weeks, or even months to complete; mistakes were common and many times things would need to be redone again by hand; late nights and long weekends spent firefighting due to outages caused by human error. Things were painful, tedious, and took so long that they were always behind. Many of them are on the verge of burning out.
A few months later, after they've adopted our solution, we would go back and see how things are going. The first thing we always notice is that everyone seems happier, more relaxed. They would tell us all the cool things they've done using our tools and how much productivity and stability have improved since implementation. They were happy, excited, and many of them would have a smile on their face while they told us of their progress, probably similar to that silly grin I had on my face once I started working with the right tools for my battery.
Throughout this ordeal of replacing my dead car battery, I gained a deeper and very personal appreciation of the fact that, having the right tool for the right job not only makes it much easier, but also much more fun!