PSA for Nissan Owners

I think this applies to any modern cars, but your mileage may vary. Pun. Intentional. Here’s the short version: If your car suddenly starts acting like it’s possessed by automotive demons, ghost in the system, there’s a good chance it’s a battery issue.

If you try to start the car and it acts like it’s having the car version of a seizure — lights flashing on and off, dashboard and other lights and warnings flickering, weird clunking noises — you might just be a redneck it may be the battery.

I’m not a car doctor, but I do pretend to be one when I’m talking to women. “Looks like you’re running low on, uh, LED headlight fluid there, little lady.“

Don’t listen to me, generally speaking.

Tip 1

If you see a warning telling you that your key fob battery is dead, or that your key fob can’t be recognized, you can hold the key fob against the start button and it should do what it’s supposed to do even if its battery really is dead.

The key fob also has a key hidden in it, which I guess everyone knows, but I’ll say it anyway. I already did.

Tip 2

If you’re just sitting in the car with the electrical things like the radio, heat, and seat heaters running and see a warning about “shutting down to save battery”, either let it shut down or start the engine and idle, especially if it’s cold.

Tip 3

You will not see a helpful warning message.

Apparently, there’s no “the battery is low/dying” or “you may need a jumpstart” message, which seems like a user experience brain fart. Instead, you’ll see a series of stress-inducing messages that tell you to refer to the owner’s manual.

If you look hard enough in the owner’s manual, you’ll find a chart of possible errors, each description telling you to refer to the owner’s manual that you have in your hand (Nissan says “lol”). And if you google, you won’t find much that’s useful or decisive. It’s kind of the same as searching for medical advice.

I saw:

CHASSIS CONTROL SYSTEM ERROR (See owner’s manual)

MALFUNCTION (See owner’s manual)

KEY FOB NOT DETECTED (See owner’s manual)


This car, the Nissan Rogue, is the first “modern” car I’ve owned. By modern, I mean more machine than man, or more computer than car. A failed sensor or blown fuse can strand you. Roadside assistance can’t do anything on the spot and, in that case, they can only tow you some place. Hopefully, you won’t find yourself in the middle of nowhere or far from home.

I just needed a jumpstart. So, it couldn’t hurt to have a portable car battery charger on hand.

But before I knew that, I had gone through the Kübler-Ross stages of car breakdown far from home at night.

Like I say, all of my automobile knowledge comes from repairs and breakdowns. But come on, if you’re going to manufacture a car, especially with a mini-tablet interface, why not have the owner’s manual in there. (Do they have the owners manual in there??) Or Frequently Asked Questions. As cool as all the technology is, there’s room for improvement in helping users get to what they need.

Give me a “what the hell does that mean?” Wiki, y’know?

My Advice

For those of you, like me, who are new to “new” new cars — heads up, I guess. Now you know.

Since you asked:

If your car breaks down, make sure to only do it in the daytime during normal business hours and at home.

Stay prepared and carry on.

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