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Old 04-30-2010, 06:59 AM   #21
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I have always waited until it goes bad but as I get older I may switch to a schedule. It is a big hassle to have the battery die at an inconvenient time. I do carry a portable jumper (I bought it when I had a boat and really needed one ). The jumper works great and can pump up low tires. I have forgotten to charge it for 6 months and still had plenty of juice. It comes in handy for helping others more than yourself.
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Old 04-30-2010, 07:44 AM   #22
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In regular use, I've gotten up to 7-8 years out of a battery. When one starts to fail first thing I do is pry up the caps and see if it's dry. If so top it up with water and you may get another 18mo to 2 years from it.
I've not seen one of those type batteries for years. They are all sealed and cannot be serviced. I do have batteries on my golf cart that have to be topped off periodically with distilled water. Not so with car batteries.
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Old 04-30-2010, 09:40 AM   #23
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I have always waited until it goes bad but as I get older I may switch to a schedule. It is a big hassle to have the battery die at an inconvenient time. I do carry a portable jumper (I bought it when I had a boat and really needed one ). The jumper works great and can pump up low tires. I have forgotten to charge it for 6 months and still had plenty of juice. It comes in handy for helping others more than yourself.
What kind is yours

I went and took a look at mine last night... dead .. and I mean it would not even turn on the little light that is on it... which an old AAA battery can do...
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Old 04-30-2010, 09:43 AM   #24
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One thing about RVs is that even a standard class C like mine has 3 batteries plus a generator. A toad would add the 4th battery. It is unlikely an RV'er would ever be stranded because of battery problems. Comments?
Might still need jumper cables?

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Old 04-30-2010, 09:50 AM   #25
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What kind is yours

I went and took a look at mine last night... dead .. and I mean it would not even turn on the little light that is on it... which an old AAA battery can do...
It is a Professional Powerstation 5000M - from Costco naturally. Thanks to your post I had to go out to the car to look at it and, low and behold, the battery test was low. It turns out I left the switch turned to "on" after I got it back from a neighbor who borrowed it about a month ago. I normally leave the main switch on "off" which maintains the charge. Maybe you made the same mistake.

I hadn't even noticed before but it has an inverter to plug in 110V AC devices as well as cigarette holder adaptors so you could plug in a phone charger or something in a pinch.

Edit: This one is not the same one I got for the boat. I picked this one up a year or two ago. The boat one was a marine charger. It disappeared a while back. I think my nephew lost it but he insists not.
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Old 04-30-2010, 09:52 AM   #26
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WV has an annual safety inspection and starting at three years old, while the car/truck is there I ask them to do a load test on the battery/charging system. Cost is minimal ~$5-$10. The battery on DW's car lasted four years, the one on the truck lasted seven.

The last time a car battery died, I must have been living right. Car wouldn't start, right next door to a Battery Mart store, which was even open and not busy. Thirty minutes and $70 lighter, I was on my way.
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Old 04-30-2010, 11:57 AM   #27
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It is a Professional Powerstation 5000M - from Costco naturally. Thanks to your post I had to go out to the car to look at it and, low and behold, the battery test was low. It turns out I left the switch turned to "on" after I got it back from a neighbor who borrowed it about a month ago. I normally leave the main switch on "off" which maintains the charge. Maybe you made the same mistake.

I hadn't even noticed before but it has an inverter to plug in 110V AC devices as well as cigarette holder adaptors so you could plug in a phone charger or something in a pinch.

Edit: This one is not the same one I got for the boat. I picked this one up a year or two ago. The boat one was a marine charger. It disappeared a while back. I think my nephew lost it but he insists not.

I am not with Costco.... but I will try and find out who makes it for them..

No, I keep everything 'off'... I think they were just crappy batteries...
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Old 04-30-2010, 12:06 PM   #28
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I've not seen one of those type batteries for years. They are all sealed and cannot be serviced. I do have batteries on my golf cart that have to be topped off periodically with distilled water. Not so with car batteries.
Many may look like the sealed type, but actually have caps that can be pried off. They no longer have twisted-on caps and the caps may be covered by decals.

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Might still need jumper cables?
I always have jumper cables in all my vehicles. But even without, I should be able to swap batteries and not get stranded. The house batteries are 12V, and not the preferred 6V (in series), but they do have an advantage of being interchangeable with the car batteries.
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Old 04-30-2010, 12:31 PM   #29
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I replaced the battery in my car yesterday, it was still working fine but
was 8 years old so thought it was a good time to put in a new one before
it died in a inconvenient location.
I have the same situation, but since it's my "sunday" car (e.g. the sun has to come out or it stays in the garage), I'll just wait a bit.

Hey, it only has 17K on the odometer after slightly more than eight years. I'm sure not going through a lot of start-up cycles is helping prolong the battery.

Anyway, I do have my "primary vehicle" that I use, along with a set of jumper cables. If that dosen't work out, I also have AAA...
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Old 04-30-2010, 01:09 PM   #30
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AT 4 years I start looking. Safety and convenience come first. I check Cosumer Reports. Each year they rate batteries.

The cost of a battery is not that much.
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Old 04-30-2010, 01:10 PM   #31
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I always have jumper cables in all my vehicles. But even without, I should be able to swap batteries and not get stranded. The house batteries are 12V, and not the preferred 6V (in series), but they do have an advantage of being interchangeable with the car batteries.
I don't think I'll try to swap batteries, but we really should carry the cables.

Although our marine charger (might) help if we are at a site and so can plug into electric. Just have to wait a while - and hope that the battery is not in such bad shape that it can be charged enough.

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Old 04-30-2010, 08:06 PM   #32
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How many miles on it, or doesn't that make any difference to the battery life? My Prius is about the same age as yours but pretty low mileage since I bus to work.
We're just under 43K, and our 17-year-old driver is as tough as they come on cars with short trips, frequent stops, and thoughtless use of the brake/accelerator.

But I don't think that matters much to the aux battery-- I think its major factor is time under the hood. I especially don't want to risk having the aux battery die and screw up one of the dozen or so electronic control units. Frankly I'm tempted to just take it to the dealer, but I think the PriusChat posters will be able to talk me through the process.

The main battery has done fine in taxicab fleets, and I expect the main battery to outlast the rest of the vehicle...
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Old 05-20-2010, 12:56 PM   #33
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Well...I drove my car last night with the newly installed battery from Walmart. I drive about 20 miles then the charging system indicator (the one that looks like a battery) lights up and stays on. I do make it home, but while driving the electricity in my car temporary cuts out. Today I decide to bring my car in to Car-X. I tell him that my battery recently died, I had got it replaced at Walmart, brand new. I tell him, when I start the car, in about 20 minutes the battery light goes on and stays on. He thinks (like me), it may be the altenator. I get a call from him in about 30 mins. He says, the battery was junk. Not an altenator problem. I try to return to battery in Walmart to get my money back or a store credit, but could not. This is after going through several managers. We go back and forth -- they say the battery was good--according to their test meter, that if I brought the car back to them under warranty that's one thing to reinstall that's one thing, but no money back refund. (I should mention, this walmart wasn't the same walmart that originally installed the battery). I tell them it's misleading, that they should have an explicity sign saying no refunds on batteries then. They way they see it is (and they have a point), is if I brought it back under warranty, they could try and install. The way I see it is if I go to a doctor and the doctor gives me medicine that makes me ill, I won't go back to that doctor again.

I should have called AAA and had them replace the original battery that was bad.
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Old 05-20-2010, 01:05 PM   #34
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Almost nobody gives money back on electrical parts. They get fried "accidently" and become unusable. Usuallt though batteries come with a warranty and can be replaced over some timeframe if they truly go bad.

With batteries and many things - you get what you pay for. If you spend some more dough you tend to get better long lasting batteries.

How exactly did they determine that the battery was good ? Did they do a load test or just check the voltage ?
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Old 05-20-2010, 01:09 PM   #35
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Almost nobody gives money back on electrical parts. They get fried "accidently" and become unusable. Usuallt though batteries come with a warranty and can be replaced over some timeframe if they truly go bad.

With batteries and many things - you get what you pay for. If you spend some more dough you tend to get better long lasting batteries.

How exactly did they determine that the battery was good ? Did they do a load test or just check the voltage ?
They (Walmart) just connected it to a meter and tested the voltage and that kicked out a print out saying good battery. I know they are inaccurate as I've brought a friend's car to have it oiled changed a couple of times. The first time, the courtesy battery test said, battery low, needs replacing soon. The second time (about 9 months later), the courtesy print out says, battery okay. All with the same battery.
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Old 05-20-2010, 01:47 PM   #36
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Far easier and more reliable to buy a digital voltmeter at HarborFreight, which often goes on sale for $2.99, and check things out yourself.
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Old 05-20-2010, 02:11 PM   #37
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Far easier and more reliable to buy a digital voltmeter at HarborFreight, which often goes on sale for $2.99, and check things out yourself.
Although a no-load voltage reading can be useful to determine the level of charge, it's not a replacement for a load test.
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Old 05-20-2010, 02:22 PM   #38
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Well...I drove my car last night with the newly installed battery from Walmart. I drive about 20 miles then the charging system indicator (the one that looks like a battery) lights up and stays on. I do make it home, but while driving the electricity in my car temporary cuts out. Today I decide to bring my car in to Car-X. I tell him that my battery recently died, I had got it replaced at Walmart, brand new. I tell him, when I start the car, in about 20 minutes the battery light goes on and stays on. He thinks (like me), it may be the altenator. I get a call from him in about 30 mins. He says, the battery was junk. Not an altenator problem. I try to return to battery in Walmart to get my money back or a store credit, but could not. This is after going through several managers. We go back and forth -- they say the battery was good--according to their test meter, that if I brought the car back to them under warranty that's one thing to reinstall that's one thing, but no money back refund. (I should mention, this walmart wasn't the same walmart that originally installed the battery). I tell them it's misleading, that they should have an explicity sign saying no refunds on batteries then. They way they see it is (and they have a point), is if I brought it back under warranty, they could try and install. The way I see it is if I go to a doctor and the doctor gives me medicine that makes me ill, I won't go back to that doctor again.

I should have called AAA and had them replace the original battery that was bad.
You left out the best part of the story........

Are you saying that the Car-X shop replaced the Walmart battery and now with the Car-X battery everything seems OK?

Here's an anecdotal example based on a sample of one: I have a Walmart battery in my 1999 F-150 that is over five years old. So far, seems fine including no issues starting in Chicago winters. But that certainly doesn't mean your Walmart battery isn't defective.

I prefer to buy batteries from Sam's Club instead of Walmart. At Sam's you buy a vendor labeled battery, typically International, and not a no-name battery labeled "Walmart." And the guys in the battery/tire install shop at the Sam's I go to do a good job and allow me to supervise from the time the hood is opened to completion.
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Old 05-20-2010, 02:32 PM   #39
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Although a no-load voltage reading can be useful to determine the level of charge, it's not a replacement for a load test.
I usually turn on all lights, headlights on high beam, and AC fan on high speed. That is enough to flush out a weak battery. And then, there is a ultimate load test: the starter.

Monitoring the voltage under the above conditions, and then while the engine is running is sufficient to tell if the battery is "weak", or the alternator/regulator i.e. the charging system is the cause.

I once helped a friend with his battery problem. This was in the late 70s, during the oil crisis. It turned out that this chintzy guy adjusted his car idle speed so low that the alternator couldn't produce enough juice to charge the battery, and he drove mostly in town.
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Old 05-20-2010, 02:36 PM   #40
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Although a no-load voltage reading can be useful to determine the level of charge, it's not a replacement for a load test.
True... True....

I had a battery installed (on my Cougar that ate batteries)... and it would test at the correct volts.... until you put on a load... I forget the exact words the guy used, but was something like 'hammer lock'... when there was ANY load put on the battery the volts almost went to zero..

Have them do a battery test... first, they charge it up.. then do a test to see that it works in many different loads... Walmart did mine for free..


As to you wanting to 'return' a battery... I agree with Walmart on this... who knows what you did with it (just saying).... it has a replacement warranty... did you ask to have it replaced

What I think you might have is a slipping belt... I can not see where every time everything works for 20 minutes and then stops working...... but then again...

Once I had a car which had a broken wire... it was in the wires coming from the alternator... sometimes they would touch and nothing was wrong, other times they did not and it would not charge... the insulation was not broken, so it was HARD to find. I just happened to be working with the wire once and thought that it bent to easy... changed the wire... everything started to work just fine... only cost me a bunch of batteries and voltage regulators to find it...


Maybe one other possibility... my Cougar had an electrical board that would 'warp' when it got hot... and cause the car to stall... when it cooled down, nothing was wrong... so it COULD be one of your boards somewhere..

It is not always the battery... but the battery can be fried due to other things being wrong in the car...
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