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Car battery question
Old 03-31-2015, 09:10 PM   #1
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Car battery question

Here's my situation. I bought a new battery for my car (60 month warranty) almost 6 years ago, so I've gotten my money's worth. I HATE when my battery goes dead because it always seems to happen in the most inopportune time. I know I can always jump it or call AAA, but was thinking about having the battery checked and/or just replacing it. My question is how accurate is the battery check most places do? Last time mine died, coincidentally, I had it checked less than a month earlier and it tested fine. I have heard (mostly from folks who sell batteries) that this is common. Does anyone have any experience with this and/or can offer any insights? I don't think I have ever had a car battery that lasted over 6 years.
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Old 03-31-2015, 09:16 PM   #2
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A car battery (lead acid) has only so many starts in it then the cell(s) deteriorate. Once a cell shorts out, it's over. A load test can give you a good indication of a batteries ability to be useful, but it has to be fully charged to test it's service under load.

Six years out of battery with normal use is a good service life (generally). If a cell shorts out, a lead plate contacts the build up of sludge from deterioration at the bottom of the cell, you lose a couple of volts and it's over.
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Old 03-31-2015, 09:31 PM   #3
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I think after 6 years I would declare victory and replace it. Late last year I plumped for a an AGM battery for replacement, which should give me a few extra years. Since this was for the mobile command unit (4X4 pickup that sometimes goes very far off the beaten path and will be the escape vehicle if the zombie apocalypse threatens), the extra hundred bucks was worth it to me. YMMV.
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Old 03-31-2015, 09:46 PM   #4
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I'd call it good, you know it will fail at the worst possible time.
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Old 03-31-2015, 10:01 PM   #5
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Regardless of how new a battery is, I believe in bring along one of jump boxes (charged up of course) as in emergency in the trunk. You never know when the battery goes kaput and you need a jump. Plus, you don't know when you might accidentally leave something on and drain out the battery.

Who wants to call AAA or depend on a stranger using a jumper cable, when keep one of those boxes around really isn't that difficult.
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Old 03-31-2015, 10:11 PM   #6
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If you think about it, people don't buy car batteries--they lease'em.
I seldom begin to get the full warranty life out of a battery. And I more often get into the pro rate time period--not the 2 year full replacement time period.
Because the pro rata is based on "full retail price" and not the always present sale price, warranties are somewhat artificial.
My Lexus battery is 7 years old, and still doing well. I think I'll change it now before it strands me. My two diesel truck batteries lasted 10 years, and replacing them was a major expenditure. I was fortunate they lasted so long.
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Old 03-31-2015, 10:18 PM   #7
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I would probably run it until fall and getting colder again. That is when batteries show their weakness, when it is cold. Summer heat can also kill them if they get a separation. Generally summer is easier on the battery though.

Or just get a new one and avoid the worry. For approx $100-150 you are back to a new battery and another 6-7 years; assuming you get one that does not have early failure.
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Old 03-31-2015, 11:10 PM   #8
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Quote:
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... My question is how accurate is the battery check most places do? ...
Specific to that question, the test is a pretty good one (it puts a heavy load on the battery, and checks voltage sag over a period of a few seconds). But it tells you how the battery is on that day, at that charge level. It can't predict that a plate will separate in a week, a month, or a year.

As others have said, 6 years is a fairly long life, it now puts you into a riskier zone. If you are afraid of getting stuck at a bad time, just replace it now. You'll have to do it sometime pretty soon either way - you aren't saving a hundred bucks, you are just postponing it.

I might try to stretch it if I'm thinking of getting rid of the car in 6 months or 6 years. I might risk it for 6 months. For 6 years, if I can delay, I might end up buying one more 6 year battery, rather than needing to buy 2 more in that time. But overall, it's a pretty minor $ thing for overall car cost of ownership.

-ERD50
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Old 03-31-2015, 11:16 PM   #9
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How new is your car? The newer it is, the more vital that you have a good, strong battery. I do not expect to get more than 4 years out of the one in my 09 Infiniti...it just starts acting wonkey after that time period. The DWs Toyota I'm thinking 3 years (it's a 2012 model year) max. Her previous car was a 2006 Honda and it got real weird after 4 years.

As for jumping a battery, it's really a bad idea on newer cars...there is just too much technology that can get fried. It's better to have a 'start pack' in your trunk that has 'clean power' as opposed to hooking up with some dude with his 1988 F150.

Sent from my mobile device so please excuse grammatical errors.
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Old 03-31-2015, 11:31 PM   #10
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I just replaced one that went bad after 5.5 years... it is the second longest one I have had... one lasted 8 years before I got rid of the car... do not know how much longer it lasted...

I also had a car that ate batteries... some went bad in less than a month... heck, one lasted two days.... they never did figure out what the problem was, but I think it was heat...

My battery did show signs of going bad... I just 'felt' like the car did not start like it had been.... told myself I needed to change it proactive, but did not do it and it went kaput a few weeks later....
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Old 04-01-2015, 04:16 AM   #11
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I've pretty much quit worrying about car batteries. I buy cheap (even used at times.) I also carry a "jumper" battery pack. With the jumper, you can even start with a shorted out battery. I suppose that when I'm too weak to even heft the jumper around, I might opt for premium batteries, changed at regular intervals. Until that day, I'll stick with plan A. YMMV
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Old 04-01-2015, 08:24 AM   #12
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........ I also carry a "jumper" battery pack.
How do you keep it from self discharging while it rides around in your truck?

Quote:
With the jumper, you can even start with a shorted out battery..........
Didn't work when DW's battery died a sudden death, nor could AAA jump it. A new battery fixed it instantly.

Quote:
YMMV
Yup!
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Old 04-01-2015, 08:43 AM   #13
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Most of the time the test results are good. I had one instance where the battery would provide slow cranking, even after an ovenight charge, yet the store tester would indicate battery is good.

I replaced the battery.

After six years I'd swap out any battery. I do live in a bit of a northern climate.


Some years ago I had battery failure where without previous porblems, no cranking. Opening the hood found the battery terminal was broken off. The cables had plenty of slack, so no sideways stress on the terminal. Never seen that before or after.
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Old 04-01-2015, 08:55 AM   #14
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About 20 years ago, I bought a battery load tester, that has paid for itself many times over. Same one is available from Harbor freight for $21.99.
6 Volt/12 Volt Battery Load Tester
It's almost indispensible for anyone with a golf cart, that uses multiple batteries.
With care and reasonable use, golf cart batteries can last for 10 years. Being able to find a "weak link" in the series can allow for replacing a single malfunctioning battery, without having to go for the whole $600 to $800 replacement.

Any automotive store or garage that sells batteries should be more than willing to do a load test for free, in the parking lot. A two minute quick test where you can see the test results, and decide for yourself.

"Jumping" a dead battery from a small 6 or 12 amp charger doesn't work. These lower amp chargers are designed for long term charges (hours to overnight), and don't provide enough "cranking amps" to start a car with a weak or dead battery. A 50 amp charger is usually enough to start a car unless a long cranking time is required.

My experience... YMMV
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Old 04-01-2015, 09:03 AM   #15
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just get a new one
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Old 04-01-2015, 11:04 AM   #16
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How do you keep it from self discharging while it rides around in your truck?

Didn't work when DW's battery died a sudden death, nor could AAA jump it. A new battery fixed it instantly.

Yup!

Also wonder how the jump pack stays charged... I had two a number of years back... they would be discharged in less than 3 months... so I bet they would not jump after 1.... it was a pain to haul them out and recharge them every month and remember to put them back... I only jumped a car one time and the pack failed to recharge... so a one and done... the other one lasted 2 to 3 years and then would not hold a charge..

I would think with the newer battery materials they could make them last longer... but I bet they would be very expensive....
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Old 04-01-2015, 11:20 AM   #17
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Also wonder how the jump pack stays charged... I had two a number of years back... they would be discharged in less than 3 months... so I bet they would not jump after 1.... it was a pain to haul them out and recharge them every month and remember to put them back... I only jumped a car one time and the pack failed to recharge... so a one and done... the other one lasted 2 to 3 years and then would not hold a charge..

I would think with the newer battery materials they could make them last longer... but I bet they would be very expensive....

The jump pack of my car suggests a recharge every 60 days whether the jump pack is used or not. If used, to recharge after use.

I have a checklist reminding myself to recharge the jump pack at the first of every other month. Out of habit, having the jumper in the trunk area isn't a big issue for me.

The jump pack i have is about 5 years old, and still works fine. In fact, I just use it the past few days as an additional cigarette lighter power source while on the road during a trip.
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Old 04-01-2015, 03:00 PM   #18
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... Any automotive store or garage that sells batteries should be more than willing to do a load test for free, in the parking lot. A two minute quick test where you can see the test results, and decide for yourself.

My experience... YMMV
I had a bad battery experience, on my son's car. He lives 1000 miles away, and his battery died. So he bought another, at wallyword. A few months later, the battery would fail every few days after overnight. He took it back to wallyworld, who "tested" it and said the battery is good. He then took the car to a mechanic, who checked the charging system, and then spent several days trying to detect what electrical device might be discharging the battery overnight. Anyway, I told my son to just buy another battery, which solved the problem. He took the (new) bad battery back to wallyworld and recommended they install it in their rear department, along with their "tester". (I made that last part up- they did refund his money).
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Old 04-01-2015, 04:14 PM   #19
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AT 4 years, I visit Costco, buy a new battery. Install myself.

Batteries are good, and the inconvenience of car not starting not worth trying to save a few dollars.
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Old 04-03-2015, 10:33 AM   #20
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I do pretty much what Wolf does. No checking, no testing, no thinking about it. Every 4 years I look at Consumer Reports for the best battery. That's what goes in.
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