Replace car battery after X years or wait till it dies?

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sreynard
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Re: Replace car battery after X years or wait till it dies?

Post by sreynard » Mon Aug 07, 2017 2:58 pm

Last two batteries I bought went from working fine on the drive home to dead the next morning. No warning signs at all and the weather was mild both times. The last was usually on a Battery Tender since I often ride my motorcycle to work. Didn't help at all. I knew something was wrong the last time when it gave a weak "Bleat" when I hit the door unlock button. It was too week to even light the dome light.

In both cases I was luckily stranded at home, but ended up having to take the day off. Not the end of the world, but it could have been a major inconvenience.

From now on I record the date when I buy it and get a new one the month the warranty expires. Want it to last longer? Buy one with a better warranty. If there's an option, I'll get the one with the higher cranking power. I'll save money by changing them myself, but I'm not going to sit waiting in the freezing cold for a tow truck after a long day at work. A lot of places we go don't have cellphone coverage and it can be a long walk. . . . With drunk drivers. . . No thank you.

lazydavid
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Re: Replace car battery after X years or wait till it dies?

Post by lazydavid » Mon Aug 07, 2017 3:37 pm

gasdoc wrote:
lazydavid wrote:
core4portfolio wrote:When my battery is about to die, I took that to Advance auto parts to test that.
You don't always get warning that it's about to die. In my most recent case, I got ONE sluggish start before the battery was utterly useless. On numerous previous occasions, everything was hunky dory on one drive, and then nothing more than a solenoid click when trying to start the next time.
So will you replace at a given age?

gasdoc
For my wife's car, most likely yes, right around the time the 5-year warranty expires. On mine, probably not. It's my first AGM battery and is 2 sizes larger than OE. I'm not sure what to expect in terms of lifetime or failure mode. I'll probably just ride that one out and see if it does give any warning, unlike the flooded batteries I've used in the past.

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weltschmerz
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Re: Replace car battery after X years or wait till it dies?

Post by weltschmerz » Mon Aug 07, 2017 4:33 pm

I'm still using the original battery on my 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, which is at almost 7 years and 56k miles. This car has an AGM battery, which maybe is why it has lasted so long. This thread inspired me to start thinking about replacement, which I found out will cost about $200 for battery alone. Additionally, the installation is a bit complicated, since the battery lives under the front passenger seat! I will have to procure some tools I don't currently own in order to perform the swap.

Here is a video showing the odd location of the battery:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZzffkQRZtE

To get the battery out, you have to put the passenger seat all the way forward and up. However, all the seat controls are electric, so if the battery dies, then you are forced to unbolt the seat to get it out of the way. What an "interesting" design!

I am thankful this thread came along and forced me to learn about my car's battery before an emergency struck.

sport
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Re: Replace car battery after X years or wait till it dies?

Post by sport » Mon Aug 07, 2017 4:34 pm

sport wrote:In a previous life, I was an auto battery engineer. The length of time a battery will last depends mostly time, mileage, and the ratings of the battery (a higher rated battery will last longer). However, this is mostly beside the point. The cost and inconvenience of being stuck when the battery dies is much worse than not getting the full life out of the battery. Generally, for an original equipment battery, I would replace it after 5 years of low mileage use, 4 years of average mileage use, and 3 years of high mileage use. It should also be understood that high temperatures shorten battery life. However, you find out about your weak battery when the weather turns cold and the engine is more difficult to start (oil thickens at low temperature and battery output drops with lower temperatures).
I have provided a professional opinion. Of course, you can wait for it to die if you wish.

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jimb_fromATL
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Re: Replace car battery after X years or wait till it dies?

Post by jimb_fromATL » Mon Aug 07, 2017 4:41 pm

The Dan wrote: To get the battery out, you have to put the passenger seat all the way forward and up. However, all the seat controls are electric, so if the battery dies, then you are forced to unbolt the seat to get it out of the way. What an "interesting" design!
I didn't think even Daimler's influence on Chrysler products would come up with something that hard. Sho 'nuff, according to the online owner's manual there are remote battery jumper terminals under the hood. Jumping it long enough to move the seat would seem to be easier.

On the plus side, your battery probably runs cooler and lasts longer, and the average thief is not as likely to steal it if they can't find it.

jimb

Angelus359
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Re: Replace car battery after X years or wait till it dies?

Post by Angelus359 » Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:28 pm

I live near Chicago and my car battery (interstate brand) is 6 years old
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ThankYouJack
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Re: Replace car battery after X years or wait till it dies?

Post by ThankYouJack » Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:40 pm

Replacing every few years seems wasteful to me.
I don't see why there's any need to replace early when you can just get one of these and keep it in your trunk - https://www.amazon.com/DBPOWER-18000mAh ... ry+charger

I've used mine a bunch, it's simple and works great. One charge will jump a car many times. Will also charge portable electronics and has a light.

Even if you don't want to spend $70 to get one of those, why not have your battery tested at an auto parts store before tossing it?

JeffAL
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Re: Replace car battery after X years or wait till it dies?

Post by JeffAL » Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:57 pm

Experience has taught me to replace every 4 years. Just do it.

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Electron
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Re: Replace car battery after X years or wait till it dies?

Post by Electron » Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:22 pm

Here are four very informative videos on the car battery that are really worth watching. I started with Part 3 which provides information on the Conductance Testers. One of the videos discusses Smart Chargers and shows the results after using the recondition mode to remove sulfate deposits.

Battery Clinic - Part 1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqs0FCJpjXU

Battery Clinic - Part 2

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKSwwgY86D4

Battery Clinic - Part 3

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oi8sUE9XCgA

Battery Clinic - Part 4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PAyHIhK8g4

I don't know if it has been mentioned in this thread, but voltage regulator settings may also impact battery life. The lead-acid battery performs best if maintained near full charge. Overcharging and undercharging should both be avoided for maximum battery life. Undercharging may lead to sulfation.
Electron

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jharkin
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Re: Replace car battery after X years or wait till it dies?

Post by jharkin » Tue Aug 08, 2017 7:51 am

As with all of these threads I highly recommend rather than taking surveys of the internet or listening to the shade tree next door you read though batteryfaq.org. This is about the most authoritative site I know of and afaik all the information is referenced from battery industry documentation.

http://batteryfaq.org/

Of particular interest in discussions about lifespan are these chapters:

Basics http://jgdarden.com/batteryfaq/carfaq2.htm
Extending lifespan http://jgdarden.com/batteryfaq/carfaq11.htm
Failure causes http://jgdarden.com/batteryfaq/carfaq12.htm


In the spirit of answering the poll, I replace the battery on time similar to what Sport responded above.. I have been surprised a couple times with batteries that died without warning so I usually do it at year 5 on the OEM, and then based on the warranty of replacements I buy. Note that I live in a cold climate and we drive under 10k miles per year... in the hot south I would be replacing more often.

In the grand scheme of auto expenses, $100 is not a lot to spend to avoid a costly tow.

sport
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Re: Replace car battery after X years or wait till it dies?

Post by sport » Tue Aug 08, 2017 9:39 am

Be careful of paying too much attention to warranties. When I was in the business, I saw a battery with a 3 year warranty that was exactly the same as one with a 4 year warranty. The only real differences were the labels and the prices. The ratings mean more than the warranties.

AntsOnTheMarch
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Re: Replace car battery after X years or wait till it dies?

Post by AntsOnTheMarch » Tue Aug 08, 2017 10:03 am

I've taken the ~5 year approach, the "test it every year after x years" approach, and the "never replace until it's really, really dead" approach. I can't say which is best. That last one I let go lasted 8 years but several times near the end I needed to jump it. I think of this as a question without a "right answer." It's like a target fund vs. lifestyle strategy fund vs. roll your own. Depends on your needs what kind of person you are.

If I'm thinking about it today, I will test when I have the car serviced and around 5-6 years it's going to result in a recommendation to replace and I will. That's how it panned out last time.

Like ThankYouJack, I carry a small portable jumper in the trunk which I find handy for many uses. I charge it twice a year (Spring and Fall). Even with a new battery, you never know if you might need a jump or to help someone out. Much simpler than using cables alone (finding a donor car and depending on where your car is, can be tricky to get positioned so cables will reach). I put these new jumper units in the category of better living through modern technology.

A word about battery warranties. Have you ever had to use one? I did one time. Battery died somewhere in year 4 of a 5 year warranty. Turns out you only get reimbursed for the last bit of life use you lost. It was literally pennies. Well, maybe literally dollars but not many. Glad I didn't pay for that warranty.

sport
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Re: Replace car battery after X years or wait till it dies?

Post by sport » Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:07 am

AntsOnTheMarch wrote:Like ThankYouJack, I carry a small portable jumper in the trunk which I find handy for many uses. I charge it twice a year (Spring and Fall). Even with a new battery, you never know if you might need a jump or to help someone out. Much simpler than using cables alone (finding a donor car and depending on where your car is, can be tricky to get positioned so cables will reach). I put these new jumper units in the category of better living through modern technology.
This brings up another subject. The space inside a battery above the liquid is actually filled with an explosive mixture of hydrogen and oxygen gasses. Whenever jumper cables, or booster batteries are used (or when installing a new battery), there is almost always a spark when these things are connected and disconnected. Usually there are no problems, so we become complacent. However, sparks and explosive gas is a bad combination and people have been seriously injured. ALWAYS WEAR EYE PROTECTION WHEN WORKING WITH AN AUTOMOTIVE BATTERY.

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Electron
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Re: Replace car battery after X years or wait till it dies?

Post by Electron » Tue Aug 08, 2017 2:39 pm

Here is an article that may explain why car batteries sometimes fail with little apparent warning. As a battery ages, the cold cranking amperage remains relatively high. The battery capacity, however, declines over time and may not be noticed by the car owner. See Figures 5 and 6.

Battery capacity is typically specified by the Reserve Capacity (RC) which is the runtime in minutes at a steady discharge of 25 amps.

http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/arti ... resistance

"CCA tends to remain high while the capacity drops with aging."

"This demonstrates that starter batteries fail mainly due to capacity fade rather than low CCA or elevated internal resistance."
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sport
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Re: Replace car battery after X years or wait till it dies?

Post by sport » Tue Aug 08, 2017 3:15 pm

Electron wrote:Here is an article that may explain why car batteries sometimes fail with little apparent warning. As a battery ages, the cold cranking amperage remains relatively high. The battery capacity, however, declines over time and may not be noticed by the car owner. See Figures 5 and 6.

Battery capacity is typically specified by the Reserve Capacity (RC) which is the runtime in minutes at a steady discharge of 25 amps.

http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/arti ... resistance

"CCA tends to remain high while the capacity drops with aging."

"This demonstrates that starter batteries fail mainly due to capacity fade rather than low CCA or elevated internal resistance."
I don't agree with this conclusion. Looking at the data presented, I would conclude that reserve capacity and CCA both decrease over time. There does not seem to be any reason to blame loss of CCA on loss of capacity. What the author does not mention is that the CCA test is a 30 second test. So, it stands to reason that if a battery reserve capacity is compromised, that it will not provide as much current for 30 seconds as a new battery. He also neglects to mention the effects of grid corrosion that gradually occurs in normal use. When the grids in the positive plates are gradually converted from Pb to PbO2, the conductivity of the grid is deceased, which causes a drop in CCA independent of any changes in reserve capacity.

When I was in that business, my company put dozens of batteries on life test in actual vehicle service, keeping track of time and mileage. This was in a commercial fleet of vehicles that received regular service. When the batteries eventually failed, we got them back, cut them open, and inspected them for cause of failure. Grid corrosion was the most common failure mode. I personally witnessed the "autopsy" of these batteries.

canderson
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Re: Replace car battery after X years or wait till it dies?

Post by canderson » Tue Aug 08, 2017 3:54 pm

If you own a Toyota, the original battery will most likely die 38 months in.

We had ours die on our 38 month old RAV4 last weekend and the AAA guy said he replaces about 10/week that are all the same age.

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deanbrew
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Re: Replace car battery after X years or wait till it dies?

Post by deanbrew » Tue Aug 08, 2017 4:30 pm

I'm sort of dumbfounded that people are only getting 3 (or 3.5) years out of car batteries. My Subaru is 6.5 years old and still on the original battery. My last car was at nine years on the original when I sold it. My son's car was at 7 years on the original when it was totaled.

I thought about replacing the battery in my Subaru on a preemptive basis before last winter, but I have jumper cables and an AAA membership. Intellectually, I understand that replacing it at 6 years before it goes kaput really doesn't cost much money compared to letting it die a year or two later. Even replacing it at 5 years isn't that expensive. But it still seems wasteful to me. Winter will be here again in four or five months, and I'll struggle with the decision again.
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sport
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Re: Replace car battery after X years or wait till it dies?

Post by sport » Tue Aug 08, 2017 4:38 pm

Battery lifetime is highly dependent on climate. Hot weather kills auto batteries. The hotter it gets, and the longer it stays hot, the shorter the lifetime of auto batteries, all other things being equal.

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gasdoc
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Re: Replace car battery after X years or wait till it dies?

Post by gasdoc » Tue Aug 08, 2017 6:31 pm

I just prophylactically replaced the battery in the Ford Escape DD will be taking to her freshman year of college. The new warranty is two years. I put it on my calendar to change again in 8/2019, before she heads back for her junior year. The price- $117, installed. Seems like a small price to pay to expect that she will get through the next two years without being stranded. My guess is that the battery would have died as she was about to finally come home for the weekend.

gasdoc

ncbill
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Re: Replace car battery after X years or wait till it dies?

Post by ncbill » Tue Aug 08, 2017 8:32 pm

So for hot climates like mine, buy the battery with the longest full-replacement warranty? (Interstate?)

And replace it once it's out of warranty?
sport wrote:Battery lifetime is highly dependent on climate. Hot weather kills auto batteries. The hotter it gets, and the longer it stays hot, the shorter the lifetime of auto batteries, all other things being equal.
Last edited by ncbill on Tue Aug 08, 2017 8:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

sksbog
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Re: Replace car battery after X years or wait till it dies?

Post by sksbog » Tue Aug 08, 2017 8:36 pm

sam's club can check the remaining juice, for free :) Good Luck !

finite_difference
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Re: Replace car battery after X years or wait till it dies?

Post by finite_difference » Tue Aug 08, 2017 8:41 pm

For an OEM battery I'd get it checked annually after 4 years at Auto Zone (free). If it's weak or fails then I replace it with one of Auto Zone's platinum/3-year warranty batteries. For a non OEM battery I'd check annually after 3 years.
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sport
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Re: Replace car battery after X years or wait till it dies?

Post by sport » Tue Aug 08, 2017 9:12 pm

ncbill wrote:So for hot climates like mine, buy the battery with the longest full-replacement warranty? (Interstate?)

And replace it once it's out of warranty?
sport wrote:Battery lifetime is highly dependent on climate. Hot weather kills auto batteries. The hotter it gets, and the longer it stays hot, the shorter the lifetime of auto batteries, all other things being equal.
It's a good idea to buy better batteries than cheap ones in most circumstances. Go according to ratings, not warranty. The life expectancy is also heavily dependent on mileage. If you have a vehicle with a lot of vibration, other considerations apply.

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weltschmerz
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Re: Replace car battery after X years or wait till it dies?

Post by weltschmerz » Wed Aug 16, 2017 8:50 pm

This thread motivated me to get out there and replace my battery. My car (2011 Jeep) still had the original battery, and it seemed to be working fine, but I am having an issue with the power door locks where sometimes I can't get them to unlock when I press the button on the driver's door panel. I thought maybe the battery is low on juice, and can't run the door locks so good when the car is off. I figured it can't hurt to replace the battery and rule out my Weak Battery Theory. Replacement was a breeze, and only cost me $200 (it's a fancy AGM battery - NAPA Legend Premium). Not sure if it will solve my intermittent door lock issue, but at least now I know the battery is good.

Chip
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Re: Replace car battery after X years or wait till it dies?

Post by Chip » Thu Aug 17, 2017 5:34 am

jimb_fromATL wrote:
Mon Aug 07, 2017 1:39 pm
I've driven over a million miles and have usually owned three vehicles for the last few decades. We have usually rolled a new vehicle into the family fleet about every 5 to 7 years, keeping the old ones anywhere from 15 to 20 years.

There may be a difference in your use patterns. Our second and third vehicles are more likely to go several days between uses rather than driven every day. And the climate may be more favorable in some places compared to the hot summers and hot, heavy slow-moving traffic, and then sometimes pretty cold winter days here.
Our experiences are surprisingly similar. I also have more than a million miles on vehicles I've owned and maintained. Plus we had 3 vehicles in our 2 driver family for 25 years . Though down to 2 for the last several years. But our second vehicle is the truck, which regularly sits for a week or more without being used.

It isn't as hot where I am as Atlanta. Average highs are about 3 degrees lower in the summer, though record highs are very similar.

I don't know if it compares to your situation, but the vehicles where I'm getting 7 year battery lives were/are both from the 90s and therefore had very low parasitic loads, especially when compared to battery capacity. The Accord battery that failed after 3 years was the exact opposite - higher loads and very low capacity battery.

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