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Car Battery Question
Old 12-22-2010, 08:36 AM   #1
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Car Battery Question

The battery on our 2004 Camry has been generally well-behaved until now.....
when I last inspected it, however, there was a large amount of pretty blue crystals on the ground strap near the battery. I assume the blue was from copper incorporated because the silver coating had been eaten through. The water in the battery was also much lower than normal.

I cleaned up the battery w/ baking soda and water and mentioned this to the mechanic when I took it in for 30K service. He didn't seem to react to this
news which surprised me since I thought overcharging could cause problems.

Two weeks later, I see the blue starting to build back again but nowhere near as much as before when the interval between looks was much longer. I haven't checked water level yet.

Is this a sign of a battery on its last legs...now 6 yrs old? or a charging problem? Recommendations for where to get a good deal?
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Old 12-22-2010, 08:45 AM   #2
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Leaky terminal post. Might as well get a new cable too, awhile replacing battery.

Cheers.
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Old 12-22-2010, 08:51 AM   #3
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6 years for a battery is like 120 years old for a person. I've had plenty of batteries that died before they were 4 yr old.

I've had 2 Toyota batteries, including a Camry, that died before the 3 yr factory warranty expired.

I wouldn't hesitate to change it, 'cos when they fail it is usually very inconvenient.
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Old 12-22-2010, 08:52 AM   #4
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Leaky terminal post. Might as well get a new cable too, awhile replacing battery.
+1
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Old 12-22-2010, 08:55 AM   #5
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Is this a sign of a battery on its last legs...now 6 yrs old? or a charging problem? Recommendations for where to get a good deal?
I think that battery's lived a long and useful life!

Warm-weather driving lets you get away with a feeble battery for a lot longer. I usually replace ours at four-year intervals "just in case" the lights get left on or something else really beats up the battery when it's already near its end of life.

Wal-Mart? Costco?
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Old 12-22-2010, 09:03 AM   #6
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They also make little felt post pads colored green and red which neutralize the reaction that causes the blue crystals.
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Old 12-22-2010, 09:11 AM   #7
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I had no idea car batteries were only supposed to last 3-5 years. My Dodge factory issued one lasted 9.5 years/120K miles! Good thing because it was in a Stratus - have to remove the front wheel and some other stuff to replace it!

Sounds like yours is accessible from under the hood. Knowing what I know now, replace it!
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Old 12-22-2010, 09:24 AM   #8
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Costco has very cheap batteries. Moneydance tells me that I got a replacement for our Toyota Tacoma's battery in 2005 for $42.89. It's been fine.
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Old 12-22-2010, 09:58 AM   #9
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Costco has very cheap batteries. Moneydance tells me that I got a replacement for our Toyota Tacoma's battery in 2005 for $42.89. It's been fine.
+1. I replaced my tractor battery with a Costco battery and it failed just after 3 years. They are prorated with even exchange at 3 years or less. They never even tested it, just exchanged it for a small prorated fee. I suppose the very frugal could just exchange their battery every 35 months.
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Old 12-22-2010, 10:00 AM   #10
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Verdict seems unanimous........thanks all.
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Old 12-22-2010, 10:21 AM   #11
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Agreed on bite the bullet and replace the battery.

I must be living right: the one time I had an unexpected battery failure I was parked right in front of a Battery Mart store. Forty-five minutes and $60 lighter I was on my way.

Now at the annual inspection I also have the shop do a load test on the battery. That headed off an impending battery failure on the truck.
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Old 12-22-2010, 10:25 AM   #12
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My Miata's original battery died last week after 10.5 years. The original is no longer available, so now I have a generic battery at half the cost.

And the other day, I had to replace the original rear brake pads, at 110,000 miles. Man, they don't make these things like they used to.
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Old 12-22-2010, 11:21 AM   #13
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And the other day, I had to replace the original rear brake pads, at 110,000 miles. Man, they don't make these things like they used to.
Dang, you're not having much fun in that little car! Live a little! You should be buying new brake pads every 50K, and a new clutch every 75K. (Please don't tell us it's an automatic!)
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Old 12-22-2010, 11:46 AM   #14
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Costco has very cheap batteries. Moneydance tells me that I got a replacement for our Toyota Tacoma's battery in 2005 for $42.89. It's been fine.
I had similar experience(s) with Sam's club batteries. They were cheap and didn't last very long. I finally got fed up and replaced the battery with a high quality Bosche unit that lasted 3 or 4 times longer than the Sam's Club "battery deal on a pallet". The battery was still running strong whaen I sold the car last year.

In batteries, the trend/theme is that you get what you pay for.
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Old 12-22-2010, 11:56 AM   #15
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I had similar experience(s) with Sam's club batteries. They were cheap and didn't last very long. I finally got fed up and replaced the battery with a high quality Bosche unit that lasted 3 or 4 times longer than the Sam's Club "battery deal on a pallet". The battery was still running strong whaen I sold the car last year.

In batteries, the trend/theme is that you get what you pay for.
I've never seen a "Sams Club" labeled battery in our local Sam's. They sell International brand batteries here. Was the battery you had the trouble with actually labeled "Sams Club" or was it a name brand, like International, that you bought at Sams?

I've had great luck with the International batteries and Michelin tires I get at Sam's. Top notch service from the guys down at their shop that mount tires and do the battery installs too.
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Old 12-22-2010, 12:30 PM   #16
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It's been a few years now - Maybe 5 or so. If I recall, I believe that they were "Champion" brand battteries. They looked like a good battery from the outside. I suspect, but am not certain, that they were the the lowest quality battery that Champion made.

They just didn't last.

To take the battery out of that car you had to remove some other parts. It was a real pain.

The funny (laugh on me) thing was that I'd take the battery down to Sam's Club and they would just give me another one to swap out.

After a year the battery wouldn't hold a charge and back I'd go. It got to be really old considering the effort to swap out that battery. The other real pain was trying to start a dead car.

- Keep those jumper cables handy.

So, I got tired of all that nonsense and went down to Pep Boys Automotive and bought their most expensive - longest warranty battery - a Bosche battery.

And didn't have any problems after that as long as I owned the car.

There really is a difference in batteries. If you have ever experienced a low quality battery then you'll know that saving a few dollars isn't worth it.
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Old 12-22-2010, 12:46 PM   #17
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From what I know, Sears DieHard and Plus Start batteries are made by Johnson Controls in WI (I used to work there as a contractor). Sears never markets the Plus Start, it's a bit cheaper, but warranty isn't as long. I've heard the WalMart battery is also made by Johnson Controls, I believe they recently changed brands in the last year or so. If Sam's Club carries the same line as WalMart, then the quality should be a lot better. About 10 years ago, Sears dropped Johnson Controls, had all kinds of complaints, then ran right back to Johnson Controls to stop the bleeding. I personally have purchased Plus Starts for my last two battery replacements on a Camry. Last exchange lasted 33 months on a 36 month warranty, only paid $45 for it back then, got a $5 credit for the last 2 months prorated...better than nothing. Batteries should get you about 3 good years, then you enter no man's land. I knew an engineer who replaced them at 3 years no matter what. Neighbor's OEM battery in a 4Runner lasted 12+ yrs, so he believes Japanese batteries are better. Everyone has their own theories.
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Old 12-22-2010, 12:46 PM   #18
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In Texas we have battrees...
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Old 12-22-2010, 12:55 PM   #19
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It's been a few years now - Maybe 5 or so. If I recall, I believe that they were "Champion" brand battteries. They looked like a good battery from the outside. I suspect, but am not certain, that they were the the lowest quality battery that Champion made.

There really is a difference in batteries. If you have ever experienced a low quality battery then you'll know that saving a few dollars isn't worth it.
OK. I've never seen Champion batteries at our local Sam's but that doesn't mean much since I'm seldom shopping for batteries. As mentioned, their main line seems to be International now. Those have a good Consumer Reports rating and I'm having good luck with them. I have them in both cars and the truck.

I think the important point is that it's the brand and model of battery that counts as opposed to the retailer you purchased from. And it's great that Sam's honored your warranty with no hassle. I had that experience with them too on a deep cycle battery I use on my trolling motor. In hindsight, I now understand it was my cheap manual Sears charger that wrecked it (repeated overcharging) but Sam's honored the warranty and replaced it. The new one, in combination with my new, fancy "smart charger" is doing well.
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Old 12-22-2010, 01:05 PM   #20
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If Sam's Club carries the same line as WalMart, then the quality should be a lot better. .
As mentioned above, Sam's seems to carry branded batteries while Walmart (like Sears) has house brands making it difficult to know what you're really getting.
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