When to replace a car battery

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Yeah, I forgot to mention that the batt could be low on water. They should all be filled over the top of the plates, or about 3/8 inch below the top of the batt. It could be the water is just low. Use distilled water if you add some.
On 17 Feb 2006 08:25:59 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@sme-online.com wrote:

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Practically all of my driving "misadventures" over the last 60 years were due to battery failures.
I have not had any problems since I used the following procedure:
I thoroughly check anything from tire pressure to drive belts and oil every 3 months or 3000 miles. At that time I also check the battery: I measure the battery voltage before I start, turn on the headlights for 15 minutes (heavy battery drain) and then measure the battery voltage again. Voltage should be the same or a tad less, unless the battery is getting weak.
I also buy only batteries recommended by consumer reports and change them out every three years. regardless of condition. 25 bucks a year is cheap insurance against being stranded somewhere in the boonies.
This system has not let me down in the last 20 years.
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Walter
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Maybe I am getting old.. but I just replace the batterty at first sign of trouble.. it just isn't worth the suckiness of having it die on you.
My recomendation is picking one up at Costco (or I assume Sams Club has them as well) they are $45 bucks or so. I have personally been very pleased with Costco ones.. and have probably put 5 or 6 in a variety of different cars over the last 8 years or so..
at the risk of getting kicked out of the "manly-man club".. I don't do any maintenance on them.. they are all sealed these days.. I guess if it looks overly dirty I would wipe it off.. but I have never seen that become a problem..
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Hi Jack
If you replace your battery when it gives you trouble, it is too late already. You are courting with real inconvenience and expense.
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Walter
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I like both of you! I'm going to open a battery shop. I'd make a ton of money!
Maybe some day I can bring my DVOM over and show you battery draw on the top of a dirty battery!
Walter R. wrote:

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Yup, there is a reason why AAA now has special vans ("The Battery Van") that do nothing but take care of battery replacements for stranded motorists. Confirms what I said about battery problems being the # 1 problem for motorists. Who wants to drive around with a questionable battery or a battery that has been patched up??
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Walter
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I am just not sure what you folks are doing to get "dirty batteries". Maybe you are off-roaders. Again, I may well be kicked out of the Manly-man club.. but I just drive my cars and van on city streets.. the thing doesn't seem to get all that dirty.. and I get how macho it sounds to say to the wife "Gotta go our and maintain battery in cars honey.. be back in a few hours" but with modern batteries what exactly do you do? There is nothing to fill.. or check the level... what exactly do you guys do.. I suppose you can put a meter across it an check the voltage.. but what else?
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Jack wrote:

How macho is it to have to push your car out of an intersection? Especially when she has to steer it while you push. Look at the scowl on her face.
For maintenance free batteries, keep the top clean. Wash it off, dry it. Simple. Check where the cables and post connect. If you see the beginnings of corrosion, remove, clean and reattach.
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I agree, anybody that routinely changes batteries at 3 years, especially if he takes voltage measurements is beyond anal.
Mark and Kim Smith wrote:

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Lawrence M. Seldin, CMC, CPC wrote:

Its bad when it no longer satisfies your needs. If you don't like the trickle charging then a new battery will certainly reduce your need to do that. Alarms/RKE/Remote Start and other ignition-off drains will cause you to have to do it more.
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"Then said I, Wisdom [is] better than strength: nevertheless the poor
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Theres the full load test. The battery is fully charged and a heavy 100+ amp load is put on it for a specific time, batter voltage shouldnt drop below 10.5 or something like that.
I USED to have lots of battery alternator troubles, they are largely hostory:)
Buy brand new premium battery every 3 to 4 years and just replace it, I give my old battery to a buddy with a windmill for his battery bank.
At $25 bucks a year its cheap insurance, and I have way fewer alternator failures.
my theory is that failing batterys put a heavy load on the alternator leading to failure.
the original posters battery is well past its lifespan, time to replace it
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Well i use them until they show signs of not working. Typically this happens when I inadvertently leave the dome lamp on overnight and it does not start the next morning. But often I still wont replace it. I dont do much traveling, so im not concerned. If I am going to take a trip then ill probably service a lot of things.
You are correct about a failing battery. Not only can it be a load on the alternator, but it can cause the alternator to load everything else in the car. In automotive world we call it a "load dump" test. Running a car without a battery installed is a bad idea. The battery acts like a giant capacitor. Without it components can be damaged. We design to deal with this situation nowadays, but the bottom line is that it is a bad situation so your advice of replacing routinely can't realy be argued against.
--
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My battery fail;ures in the past tended to be ZERO days and places with no heat or convenient place to wait for tow.
for ME its just not worth the inconvenience of getting stuck
Incidently temp extremes espically cold cause the biggest load, cranking engine with stiff oil, and thats why more fail at that time.
The last battery that died for me was last summer, it died in my driveway, came in fine, my 200 amp boost charger wouldnt budge it, neither would AAA battery truck, I told AAA a jump wouldnt work, ended up having a second truck for a tow.
battery was shorted
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

I wonder what brand battery you use? I have never had a hard failure. I havent had any failures that were not forseeable.
Cold is also hard mostly because batteries are electrochemical devices. Its hard to generate the voltage and current when the chemicals are having a hard time mixing.
I honestly cant remember the last car battery I bought over the last several cars. Maybe one per 5-7 years.
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dnoyeB wrote:

A jump from another vehicle did nothing, so I assumed it was the starter and removed it. Dumb. The starter was ok. Had to be a battery short. You can't ever tell when you will get a short, could be after a month or two, or never.
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To answer based on the subject line only:
Our family has used the rule of 4 winters of use living in the northern half if the USA. Beyond that the battery may work but one never knows for how long. Simply easier to pick a warm comfy day to change it out on my schedule, not waiting until it has failed.
Any money wasted on a earlier than needed replacement offset my not needing a tow later on.
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I agree completely. Four years of service is about right. Simple, and straight answer. Well done, sir!
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Christopher A. Young
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I solve that by carrying battery jumper cables. Though not as easy to get a jump as it used to be, I've never needed a tow. Once I got one from a young good-looking woman. It was nice to meet a girl who wasn't a fraidy-cat.

Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let me know if you have posted also.
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mm wrote:

Much prefer using my cables, or portable jump start battery, helping others.
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Lawrence M. Seldin, CMC, CPC wrote:

A battery that won't hold a charge for 3 weeks is bad. Unless, there is something in the vehicle that is draining the battery. Installed a radio once that clock and keeper circuit would drain a battery in 3-4 weeks.
30-60 minutes a week of driving should keep a good battery up. If it doesn't keep your battery up, then replace the battery. Better yet, get a Harbor Freight $4 Volt-ohm meter and use it to check the battery. Should read 12.65V 24 hours after charging or driving the vehicle. If it drops to around 12.40V after 24 hours of charging or not driving, it is probably sulfated and just won't hold a full charge and you need to buy a new battery. Quit futzing around and spend $55 for a new battery.
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