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Being in Los Angeles lock down, my driving has been reduced dramatically. There had been no indications of battery issues at all. But then yesterday evening I was going to go out and pick up some Italian food. My first warning all was not right was when I had to use the trunk button to put my shoulder bag into the trunk. I closed the trunk but then the door lock wouldn't open by simple touch. I used the unlock button on the key and it let me in, but when I went to start the car, I got the message that the car didn't recognize the key. If it had said "battery low"...better yet, even warned me a few days before that the battery was not getting the charge that it needed...it would have made sense. But telling me it didn't recognize the key was bizarre. So I went upstairs and got my spare key but faired no better. And now I was locked out of the car. Now Alfa gives you a little tiny key hidden inside the bulbous key fob and I was able to use that to open the door, but I still could not open the trunk and the door locks were now acting up. I called my local Alfa dealer service department but they had changed their hours of operation on Saturday due to the virus. Normally they would be open, but now they were not. I called Alfa Customer Service but all I could reach was roadside assistance. That guy was very nice but outside of sending a truck to look at things, he couldn't help either.

I spend a half hour going through the owners manual looking for an explanation of "the car doesn't recognize the key." There is none. Anywhere in the book, there is no reference...except in the little section about what the different warning lights mean. But the only advice was to take the car to a dealer asap.

Now it is important to understand what happens when your battery dies on a Giulia...and I'm sure it is much the same on other modern cars...the Giulia has "electric brakes, and electric emergency brake, and electrically controlled transmission, electric door and trunk locks, you ignition switch is electric...everything is electric so when the battery goes dead, your car now becomes immobile. You can't push it or tow it because you can't release the emergency brake or get the car out of Park. To get it on a flat bed they would have to come with (in my condo garage's case) with a very low truck that would extend out some sort of cradle and pick up the entire car and try to get it out of the garage. This is your modern world and your modern car.

Imagine how easy it would have been to have a simple metal key, like with every other Alfa I've ever had. That one or two little keys never made an embarrassing lump in my pocket, they didn't cost between 5 and 8 hundred dollars to replace, they didn't need batteries, and they lasted decades. Yes decades. And the cost of replacement is still under ten dollars.

So how does this rant against the modern world end? I called the free 24 hr roadside service and said my battery was dead. I had no proof of this, but something was dead because now I didn't even get the original messages...the car was completely dark. The guy arrived and thank god Alfa had left one thing mechanical...the latch to get into the engine bay. So the guy hooks up his mega voltage jump starter (I know that car computers love this...like a southern death row inmate liked to be put in "old sparky,"), and the two guy yells for me to start the car. Well the dash lights up and the needles start dancing and warning lights start flashing and the car coughs twice and dies. We do it again...the dash is like a fourth of July fireworks display...another cough and it dies. Same for the third time. But at last the fourth time is a charm, the engine springs to life, along with some warning signs...there is no more collision avoidance, there is no more DNA, according to the lights there is no more power steering and something called ESC is illuminated. The road service guy tells me to drive it around for about 30 to 40 minutes...just what I want to do at 10 pm...with the uncertainty of what will happen.

But I do as he says. Came home parked the car and went to bed. This evening I went down to see what would happen. It started right up, the warning lights were all gone, no sign that anything had happened. My wife is parked behind me so I don't know if I got my DNA back, but I'll find that out in the morning.

All this because the great all holy warning lights don't tell you that your battery charge is low. More proof that high tech modernity is not all its cracked up to be.

If the car had not started this evening, I would have had the jump starter back tomorrow morning and gotten it to the dealer. Even if it did start but the warning lights were still on, it would be back to the dealer. And it still might be back to the dealer if the DNA isn't working. And, in fact, it will be back to the dealer for an evaluation of the battery. All this because in the digital world, more is less, where is the analog world less was more.

I had decided to stay with the Giulia through the end of the lease. This now urges me to move up the replacement date and more aggressively look at alternatives in the older car market. It seems that Snowflakes have more influence over modern car design than car enthusiasts.
 

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Thanks for the warning here. My low battery light has been coming on, but I have been driving it every few days to ensure it doesn't discharge. Had no idea the consequences were so extreme. I at least have the Alfa trickle charger I could use in a pinch (dealer mistakenly left it in my trunk when the car was delivered new...because the abttery was dead when I went to pick it up!).
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Definitely start using it. And mine is a brand new battery from just three months ago. The problem is that these cars are filled to the brim with little computers all over the place, talking to each other even when they have nothing to say. These are not energy efficient cars by any means. Look at the silly back up camera...all anyone has to do is turn their neck and look over their shoulder. But that camera and all the other sensors turn a 5 mph bumper accident into a total on the entire car. And its just as bad with Mercedes and BMW and Porsche. The inmates are not only running the asylum, they are also designing and building the cars.
 

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"Imagine how easy it would have been to have a simple metal key, like with every other Alfa I've ever had. That one or two little keys never made an embarrassing lump in my pocket, they didn't cost between 5 and 8 hundred dollars to replace, they didn't need batteries, and they lasted decades. Yes decades. And the cost of replacement is still under ten dollars"

"All this because in the digital world, more is less, where is the analog world less was more"

Hey, that's MY rant. The new electronic fobs, etc, are an answer to a question few were asking, IMO.

My new to me Chevy SS is more or less the same. Since it doesn't get driven much at all, I bought the appropriate trickle charger for the weird AGM battery. In the manual, Chevy warns the SS owner that various electronic devices/processes in the car can drain these batteries fairly quickly, so they recommend using the charger as a matter of normal use if the car isn't used much. There is supposed to be some sort of "transportation mode" in at least some years of the car which reduces the drain when the car is stored or transported, but I'm not sure how to use it or whether my year SS actually has it. Don't know if the Giulia has such a mode.

BTW, my bro's Mazda 6 was lightly rearended recently, and the bill came to ~$6000. Replacing and calibrating the rear bumper was ~$3000 by itself. Such a deal. Isn't new stuff wonderful?
 

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Is it the battery in the car or the ones in the fobs?

My Jag is all electric and it has a metal key that opens the trunk. Once inside you have access to the battery charging terminals which can also be used for a jump start.
 

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Yup, the Chevy SS is similar, in that you can use a real metal key to open the door, and then you can pull the mechanical lever to open the hood in order to access the charging/jumping terminals.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
It wasn't the key in my battery, it was my car's battery, drained by all the computers who had nothing to do when I wasn't driving it except to drain the battery. Not a single one of the "modern computer conveniences" in my car is of any use to me. I had no problem hand cranking the windows up and down in my Alfetta. I had no problem checking the oil, or measuring the air in my tires, or locking and unlocking the doors and the trunk with a key, or starting the car with a key. I didn't need a thermostat to control the temperature...I just turned on the heater when I was cold, and opened the wind wing when I wanted more air. I reached down and moved the seat backwards and forward with the lever that was there. When I opened the hood I could see the entire engine and all the parts that went with it. Changing the distributor cap or points was a breeze and only took minutes. All the cooling hoses were visible and available to change or to tighten a clamp. Same with the coil. Spark plugs...a five minute job to replace. Fuel injection...yes my owners manual even gave me instructions how to adjust its fuel richness. And the manual was relatively small but it was filled with facts about the car and how to change a tire, etc. My Giulia's manual is a an absurd and obese volume of legal warnings and guides to knowing nothing. The best buy around right now are the Spiders from the 70s. And that is what I think will be my next car. The GTVs have escalated in price to now being collector cars...the spiders are still priced as daily drivers. Best to hop on that trend now while they are still available.



Bottom line, the era before computers was just as interesting and productive as the world since computers. A person who worked in New York or Paris could also afford to live there. Rush hour on the LA freeways was actually only 15 to 20 minutes long...and only one direction in the morning and the other direction in the evening. You could push start a car and pop the clutch. You could get in through the passenger door and easily get into the driver's seat. You could put the convertible top up and down with one hand.
 

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You can actually mechanically release the park brake and the EPB. On the Giulia the process is quite involved. On my XF Jaguar you have to pop off a piece of interior trim (usually breaking a plastic clip in the process, adding cost to the EXTREME frustration), and ironically use a screwdriver or a quarter to release the secret strap, pull up and the transmission park brake in the transmission is released, just like a 1950's Chevy. I'm not sure how the EPB gets released. On the Giulia if memory serves I think you have to go under the car or trunk dive or something like that. Every car is different.

For a low fob battery (not your issue) you apparently place the fob in the bottom of the recess in the console, if you look there you should see a kind of pictogram of the fob. On the first version of the XF you put the fob into a special recess in the knee brace to the left of the steering wheel. Now for my facelift version or the new model I'm not sure where you put it, although I have a place I suggest the responsible Jaguar design engineers put it and a place to go and how to transport themselves there after they succeed in doing so.

Modern cars are wholly dependent on their main service battery but no maker puts any sort of failing battery warning system in their cars. Except for stop start systems. If those stop working your first suspect is a less than fully charged battery. Quel ironie
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Even the concept of the DNA modes is stupid. There should only be dynamic mode...otherwise buy a Toyota.
 

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Even the concept of the DNA modes is stupid. There should only be dynamic mode...otherwise buy a Toyota.
I'm not a fan of any "driving modes". For me a given set of steel springs on a specific road car requires one set of properly tuned non adjustable dampers. The chassis engineers are supposed to know how to do that. Cars with multiple "driving modes" may include one damper setting that is correct, which is usually Sport or dynamic because the rebound rate is harder than the "normal" setting (often, amazingly, none of the variable damper settings is correct!!!). I pick that one and leave the car set to that setting. Unless it is a Porsche.

Generally speaking road cars are fitted with incorrect dampers. This is because the average driver really has no idea how the dampers should be working. Generally speaking car makers fit dampers that are too soft in both bump and rebound. So, when car makers decide to fit variable rate dampers they always include a harder setting which is closer to correct, except often the Sport setting is too hard. The comfort setting is usually just way too soft. The normal setting is often also too soft because most drivers are ignorant of the correct damper settings and think the correct setting is "too hard". So, the three setting version often has no correct damper setting!

Porsche is a prime offender with their Sport setting which is waaaay too hard.

For road use a hard rebound setting with a soft bump setting (jounce as the English so accurately call it) is almost always the best combination. Adjustable dampers are usually adjustable only in rebound and in the real world of road driving only one of the multiple "clicks" is actually correct and usable. Find that setting on any set of adjustable dampers and just leave it there. My Italian mechanic did that for me on a set of Konis on my tuned Audi S4 (B4 bodyshell with a MTM chip giving 300+ hp from the stock engine, sweet). The PO who fitted the adjustable spring/damper set lowered the car (Audi already lowered the S4 as far as you can for road use) and chose a ridiculously hard rebound setting (fortunately jounce was not adjustable or he would have made the car dangerously undriveable). I had my mechanic raise the ride height back to stock and adjust the dampers. Didn't touch them after that and the car handled and rode perfectly.

For my money you buy a set of dampers from somebody like Koni or Bilstein who develop a specific damper for the springs actually fitted to your car. Adjustable is not desirable if the dampers are properly engineered to begin with. Same deal with my BRZ. Fitted Bilstein fixed rate dampers and those transformed the car. However, the rear spring rate was incorrect from the factory, to give the car more "exciting" handling. Not so good. Subaru finally changed the spring rates in 2017 so I bought a pair of rear springs which Subaru manufactured at a 10% lower spring rate than they fitted to previous model years. I did not change the aftermarket dampers I had already fitted. The rebound rate of the Bilsteins matches the softer rear springs even better! The original rear spring rates were just wrong and Subaru finally acknowledged that. They also increased the front spring rate a little (but also increased the rear roll bar rate a bit which I did not do ) but I had already fitted a much stiffer front roll bar so left the car with original slightly softer rate springs at the front. The car pogos a tiny bit in a straight line with the "incorrect" front spring rates but I only really care about the corners.
 

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You talk about maintenance chargers -- my problem is bullpen parking with no electrical outlets. And AFAIK, absolutely no one makes a maintenance charger that is itself battery powered. IOW, I want a device I could walk upstairs to charge in my apartment, walk it to the parking area and connect it to my vehicle, then let it do its maintenance thing for a week. Rinse and repeat. Doesn't seem like an outlandish idea but I can't find anything that does it.
 

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That's because the Marxists are pushing to kill ICE and go to full electric cars, that you never own, and that has government owned charging stations everywhere. But first they have to make your car so bloody inconvenient that you'll dump it and buy into the Green New Deal.
 

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Maintenance chargers are not required for normal use. As long as a car is driven once a month for ten minutes or so the service battery will hold its charge. If not then you need a new battery. Any car battery that has become fully discharged is very likely to fail prematurely depending on how it became fully discharged. Any car battery is suspect after five years in service. From the first charge/discharge cycle. Battery life is shortened by heat either ambient or from recharging for lengthy periods. I.e after a deep discharge it is important to recharge relatively slowly to avoid heating the battery.
 

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Maintenance chargers are not required for normal use. As long as a car is driven once a month for ten minutes or so the service battery will hold its charge. If not then you need a new battery. Any car battery that has become fully discharged is very likely to fail prematurely depending on how it became fully discharged. Any car battery is suspect after five years in service. From the first charge/discharge cycle. Battery life is shortened by heat either ambient or from recharging for lengthy periods. I.e after a deep discharge it is important to recharge relatively slowly to avoid heating the battery.
The battery that failed me was three months old. I certainly drove more than ten minutes a month. It was dead. The 24 hour roadside assistance guy jumped it (took four attempts) and it started. Driving it for thirty minutes right after that had it charged and all the failure lights off, DNA back on, etc. I'll get to a dealer later this week to double check the battery. Porsche also warns that their cars computer systems put an enormous drain on their batteries and suggest that as little as ten days without driving can cause battery failure. It is a basic design failure of all modern cars.
 

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I did find this. don't know if it is relevant:

"Newer vehicles have a Battery Sensor Module or similar systems. These systems require recalibration with a scan tool if the battery is replaced. If the system is not recalibrated, the alternator might overcharge the new battery and cause the battery to fail soon after replacement"

Just a thought.
 

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Also, the "new" battery may be as old as from the build date of the car (ARDONA put new AC Delco batteries in the 164, I think after they arrived here). Who knows how many times it was allowed to go flat and how it was recharged.

There is nothing in a modern car that drains a battery in less than a month. I have many times left a modern car inactive for weeks with no sign of battery drain. There are possible faults that can do this, particularly with the ICE systems which are designed to stay on after the ignition is switched off if your cell phone is still on a call, for example. There have been reports of software faults leading to the ICE system not shutting off completely which could prematurely kill a battery.

Batteries are very simple parts. Generally they work just fine in any car for about five years. I've had a couple of new car batteries fail in two or three years but generally not. One failure was on a used car I bought at around 18 months old so who knows what the PO did to that battery. Another was in a 1980's VWAG product and their batteries were very poor quality at that time.

I have never had a quality after market battery ever give any trouble until it died from old age or was repeatedly flattened by an electrical fault in the car (a faulty temperature gauge on my SAAB Aero killed a battery by intermittently triggering the cooling fan to start running even with the ignition off, a fault that took months of painstaking troubleshooting to find and correct).
 

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From driving the Giulia everyday, I now take it out about once a week just to warm up the engine.
 

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"There is nothing in a modern car that drains a battery in less than a month"

I'm not sure I really believe that.

I've left my LS, S, and Milano with good batteries (granted not AGM but regular conventionable flooded style in fine condition, ie, not that old) for 3 weeks while we are gone somewhere, and the batteries were low enough so that I could not start the cars. Granted they are not modern in today's sense, but they have much less in the way of electronics than say the Giulia. Turns out in the case of these three cars, the radios draw power even when not turned on. Now I always pull the radio fuses in our cars when we leave them, or don't drive them for 2 weeks or more.

Maybe more "modern" cars have radios, etc, which draw less power, but they sure have everything else in the infotainment systems, and other car systems, etc. Are they really that much more efficient, drawing less power as a total when the car is left to sit?

The SS (which is "modern" for the most part, maybe fairly equal to the Giulia) manual does warn the owner to use a trickle charger if the car is not used for 2-3 weeks. Or, more specifically, if the car is used infrequently, just remove the negative cable from the battery (AGM style).
 
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