Not Your Father's Car Battery

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This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

There was a time, back in the day, when I used to change the oil and spark plugs on my old Volkswagen. We VW owners all carried a book under the front seat, kind of a dummy's guide to maintaining a VW bug.

My father once worked as a car mechanic, and he passed a few of the fundamentals on to me. So it came as a bit of a shock last night when all the lights on my dashboard lit up, but yet the car refused to start.

I've owned a few cars since the Beetle, and I've owned the current one for six or seven years now. What I almost never do is open the hood. So, when I did just that last night to find the battery, thinking I needed a jump, I was more than a little baffled.

Where is it?

Finally I spied a tiny black door with a plus sign on it. Huh? Lifting this little door I found a place to attach one of the jumper cables. Two feet away I found the other one. A good Samaritan gave me a jump and I was on my way, but I still have no idea where the battery is.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on many CBS Radio News affiliates across the country.