SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Mike Bishop is out to reenergize those who are in transition and can not afford to have a dead or low battery for the vehicle. His goal is to make sure they are not stranded on the roadside.
He's fully stocked with batteries and tools to make the switch at no charge.
Bishop arrives Tuesday at the Neighborhood Navigation Center on Carrillo Street at Castillo Street and joins other providing services. This includes free showers, help with personal identification papers, food and medical care.
In the back of his SUV he pulls out electronics, cables, batteries and just enough tools to get the job done.
This not only makes sure the batteries can start a vehicle, but it prevents it from being stuck on the roadside, or becomes out of commission so long that it might be impounded.
At times he will run a test on a battery to see if it is losing power and needs to be replaced.
The batteries he receives are not new. They are from auto shops in town where car owners have had a replacement, and the old battery still has life in it, sometimes two or three years. Even though the batteries are still working many owners will replace them early. Bishop said, "a lot of people just put a battery in every year and they replace batteries that are perfectly good. So I charge them up, clean them (and give them to those in need.) "
Bishop gives the bad batteries to the auto center and there's some value for the core when its turned in or recycled. Bishop's work ultimately saves someone who is financially unable to buy a new one.
Bishop is a former Army mechanic and mechanics teacher. He was also the former owner of Richard's Accurate Automotive repair shop in Santa Barbara.
The work to help those in need is part of his association with Adam's Angels, a non-profit group that helps struggling residents with food, clothing and in this case, a reliable form of transportation.
Tuesday Bishop helped the owner of a used van. It was well worn and just purchased with a list of repairs in order to be on the road soon.
Bishop spotted a problem right away.
Looking under the hood he said, "it's got battery acid and corrosion. It gets between the battery terminal and the battery and causes high resistance."
A special tester was used on the batter in the van owned by Anna Marie Nava. Bishop saw that it was faulty. "This one is low, yeah it is really low," he said.
He saw there was another more serious problem.
Bishop shook the battery and it was not mounted correctly. Pointing to a terminal near the engine he said, "well if this touches any place (metal) on the car it will start a fire."
These warnings were helpful.
"I know and I didn't have to leave the parking lot. That's nice because I didn't even know they had that here," said Nava.
Bishop also has special equipment to diagnose a "check engine" light issues. He then held up a stethoscope. "This is my noise finder. I can touch any part on the engine and know if it's good or bad. So if you have a funny noise in your engine, I am like the doctor of motors."
This aid, has helped many struggling car owners stay in gear and for one he now avoids hitchhiking to work. "So he doesn't have to get up at 5 am. because he has a car that moves. That felt great! "
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