Why Processes Matter and How I almost blew up my Girlfriend’s Jeep

My girlfriend was having issues with her Jeep.

All indications were with the battery not charging. When she turned the ignition key in an attempt to start it, it resulted in a slow labored crank.

I figured this was due to a weak alternatorjeep_fire

I survived motorcycle mechanics school and have worked on cars since before the age I was allowed to legally drive. I thought, alternator, that’s no big deal. I’ll yank it out, take it to the auto parts store. Have them test it and move on with my day.

I popped the hood and quickly detached all of the bolts that held the alternator onto the engine.

I proceeded to remove the belt. Once that was removed, there was only one more piece that needed to be disconnected, the power cable running to the alternator.

Using flawed logic I concluded, Well the alternator supplies power to the battery, so no big deal.

I removed the cable connector from the alternator. Now free, the cable swung towards the top of the engine.

The swing was halted by a crackle, a pop. I’m not fixing a bowl of cereal here, so this was a bit troubling.

The audible pop resulted in a blue electrical arc which was promptly followed by an evil hiss. What happened next was equivalent to a small flame thrower shooting a violent burst of gas in fire into the engine bay.

The alternator cable had grounded itself on the fuel rail. A small metal conduit that feeds engine from the fuel tank to the cars engine.

And this small tubing was pressurized by the fuel pump.

I quickly grabbed a rag from my girlfriend and snuffed out the flame.

What started as a simple job of changing an alternator turned into a tow job, a week with the shittiest loaner car ever, a $300 bill, and endless frustration with the mechanic.

Sometimes it’s the overlooked things in the process. These small details that can lead to success or blow up in your face.

Good processes are designed for a purpose. There’s a reason they’re to be followed.

And there’s a reason to disconnect the battery.

Author: Jeff

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