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Bad Battery Cell in my 2006 Maxima every 15-17 months

After searching the forums and columns with no luck, I’m hoping someone can help with my specific battery question. I have a 2006 Maxima purchased new, and primarily driven, in San Antonio. I put about 12K/yr on the car, about 75% being highway miles.



I’m now on my third battery (original and two replacements) in about 34K miles and not quite three years of driving. All service on the car has been done at the dealer other than tire rotation/balance. After replacing the battery both times for a bad cell, I asked about and was told that there were no problems with the electrical/charging system.



My questions:

This doesn’t sound right to me - an 84 month battery should last longer than 17 months before a cell goes bad and requires replacement, right?

What would cause the battery cell to go bad?



My new car warranty expires in about two months, so I want to get this fixed under warranty if I can.



Thanks in advance for the assistance.



John

Give us some more info on symptoms, and how do you know it’s a ‘bad cell’, as opposed to a ‘bad battery’?

Is the dealer replacing the battery? If so, he may be using batteries that have been sitting around for a while. I bought a new battery once that failed in two days. You can by an inexpensive multitester for less than $10. Measure the voltage at the battery terminals with the engine off. It should measure about 12.6 volts. Start the engine and take another measurement. The voltage should be about 14.5 or so. IF the voltage is 16 or above, the alternating isn’t being regulated correctly. However, if this is the case, you would be probably be burning out bulbs rather quickly.

My guess is your alternator is overcharging the battery. Use a voltmeter to check that the charging voltage is below 15 volts.

Was the “bad cell” determined by a liquid hydrometer reading? Because that’s the only way it can be done…You may have beat the odds and had 3 defective batteries. Or you may have a parasitic load that is killing the batteries…

I was told by the dealer that the most recent replacement (just got it yesterday) was required for a bad cell. The same dealer wasn’t as specific on the first replacement - just it was a bad battery. Both times I noticed the engine was slower to turn over for about 6 starts before it wouldn’t start at all. All accessories still worked even though the car wouldn’t start. The dealer mentioned that this is an Interstate battery if that matters.

Thanks for the reply.

Not sure - that’s just what I was told.

By parasitic, do you mean too little of a charge, or too high?

Multitester needs a battery.
I’ve have had no burn out bulbs.
Will post results from multitester when i get battery.

12.8 volts - engine off
13.9 volts - engine running.

A parasitic load is a small but constant drain on the battery. As long as you drive the car at least once a week you might not ever suffer a dead battery/no start condition. But the battery is being discharged and recharged much more that it was designed for and this greatly shortens its life…An example would be a trunk light or under-hood light that never turns off. Some alarm systems draw too much current and can pull down a battery. Automatic door locks that stick and continue to draw current are another example. This condition is simple to test for…

Can I test for this current draw myself?

The odds of getting 2 bad replacement batteries in a row is pretty far-fetched and I second Caddyman’s advice about a parasitic voltage draw.

You can test for this with a voltmeter or test light. Disconnect the battery negative cable end and connect one of the 2 test methods between the cable end and the battery terminal.

Make sure the doors are closed, key off, etc. If the test light is illuminating brightly or the voltmeter shows an excessive draw well into the milliamps is a sign of a parasitic draw.

I would also add that the month rating of a battery does not reflect on how long it will last. A 12 month battery can last just as long as a 60 month for example.
It’s a numbers game based on gambling.

I suspect the trouble you are having may be due to excessive ripple from the charging system. This is caused by bad diodes in the alternator. Check the voltage across the battery using a digital voltmeter set for the AC voltage function. Rev the engine to around 2000 RPM and see what the reading is on the meter. You should have no more than .1 volt AC. DC should be no more than 14.8 volts. If you find either out of spec then replace the alternator.

Yes, if you have a basic VOM. Set the meter on its highest AMP scale, 500ma or more…Disconnect the negative battery cable. Connect the negative meter lead to the negative battery post and the positive lead to the end of the battery cable. Be sure all lights and switches are OFF. Remove any under-hood light that may be on. Read the meter…MOST cars will read UNDER 200ma draw. That would be my high limit. Some cars with alarms pull 350ma. Your only option is to not to use the alarm routinely, only when you really need it…If you car has a anti theft radio, be sure you know the activation code before you disconnect the battery…