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Last winter my dealer said that I needed a new battery. I went to Sears, since I have a Die Hard. They told me it was fine and did not need to be replaced. Sure enough during the winter I had trouble getting the car to turn over on really cold days. A few weeks ago the dealer told me the same thing; went to Sears and they said, “No” again. But already it starting to struggle a bit now that it’s getting cold again. How do I convince Sears to replace the battery or could this be a problem in the electrical system?

How old is the battery? What are the make, model, and year of car?

I am surprised Sears has turned you down. First, you can be insistent and accept the risk of being wrong (could be alternator output, or some other issue). Second, have a mechanic do a load test on the battery and a full charging system test, to determine if everything in the system is OK. Usually Sears or a mechanic will charge for this test, but you also get real results, instead of “all is OK”.

I am a believer in preventive battery replacement, so if your battery is more than four years old, it is a candidate for replacement (in my world, anyway). You can force the issue now, or be inconvenienced if it fails on the coldest day of the year, your choice.

Have an independent shop test the battery and your cars charging system. This is a 5 minute job.

Last I knew, you could just purchase a battery from sears without the “check-the-old-battery” routine. The age of the battery and type of car would help give us some insight about the problem.

Although you did not state this explicitly, I am inferring that you are attempting to have Sears replace the battery under warranty, since it is one of theirs. Am I correct?

If that is the case, and if they continue to tell you that the battery is “okay”, you may have no recourse but to pay for a new battery. However, I would certainly not purchase it from Sears! You can buy the same battery from Costco (albeit with a different brand label) for far less money, and then install it yourself.

Sorry that I did not mention that this is a '98 Accord. The battery is at least 4 years old, probably older. A followup question: Two of you suggested that I have the battery and charging system tested. Should I let my dealer do that or go to a truely independent shop? Would the charging system be cold sensitive as this appears to be? Also, during the past few cold days, there is a momentary delay between when I turn the key and the when the car turns over.

Your battery is on its last legs. Replace it now–you are on borrowed time.

Take note that a battery has to provide additional current when the outside temperature and the engine are colder. So a battery that is marginal during the summer would be able to start the engine briskly whereas a worn battery is not likely to have the reserve ampacity to crank a cold engine briskly. A battery with short reserve would not be able to continue cranking if the engine did not catch immediately leading to a need to jump start. The ‘load testing’ of the battery simulates the starting load on battery and done long enough can ascertain the reserve ampacity of the battery. Thus you have a measure of the quality of the battery to fulfill the needs of cold weather starting.

Thanks to all who gave me some help. It’s appreciated!

I didn’t see where any one mentioned this so I will: when the battery is replaced ENSURE the tech/mech thoroughly cleans and replaces the cables wrench tight BOTH at the battery AND the starter.

I would try this BEFORE I replaced the battery…Again, have an independent shop give the battery a load test and, using the same diagnostic tool, check the charging system…

You may have to stop buying the overpriced batteries at Sears. For half that price, you can get the same thing at Wal-Mart. If you want to pay the same, you can get a battery at a club store, pay the annual membership fee and still be fifteen dollars ahead. You can forget the warranty and get a new battery whenever you need one.