Newer Battery needs Recharge 1999 Nissan Sentra

I have a 2-year old battery from Costco that won?t start my car. I noticed last week that my car was taking a little more time to turnover, but was still starting and the lights seemed strong. I went to Pep Boys to have them check the battery/ charging system. They said the batter y was a bit low and needed recharging (which they did) and that the Cranking Amps were low. BUT, they said the car?s charging system was fine ? putting out 14 volts at idle and under load. I drive about 1 mile to work each way and don?t drive a lot on the wknds. Wonder if that might be the issue (not enough time charging) or if there is some drain on the system while the car is off? How would I detect if there was some fault or short that was draining the battery while the car was off? The battery is 100% covered for the first 3 years, so I can get a free replacement & I?ve had very good luck with Costco batteries in the past. I just don?t want to put in a new battery and then have the same issue again if there is a short somewhere.

One mile of driving is NOT enough to replace the drain caused by starting the engine. There is some drain even when the engine is off (computer memory, radio presets, etc), but that’s not what’s causing the problem. The car is not being driven enough to keep the battery fully charged.

One mile to work is bicycle, or walking, distance.

If you can’t, or don’t want to, drive the car more, get a Battery Tender and hook it up every couple of weeks to keep the battery fully charged.

Or take it for a 20-30 minute highway drive once in a while.

Thank you for your reply and information and that certainly sounds reasonable. I have been doing this drive (rather - non-driving) for the last 6 months and wondered if something else might be going on since I would assume this would have happened quicker if it was only related to the lack of car being driving enough. Would you have any suggestion on how I might check the electrical system to rule out some type of short/ fault?

My MIL has similiar driving habits which is why i need to charge her battery on our every 3 week visits. The battery is typically at 70 percent charge. About 5 hours on the charger brings it back to 100 percent.

This type of driving is also why I just had to spend $130 to replace her rotted out muffler.

Her car is an 01 Civic with 19,000 miles on it.

I had a friend who killed his battery in ~2 years doing just what you’ve been doing: a very short commute to work.

This might be your fun solution:

Another solution would be for you to buy a solar panel charger that you plug into your cigarette lighter. While your car is parked while you are at work, you have the solar panel in the window facing the sun, and you slowly get a small charge, that will top up your battery while you are at work.

Its that, or you take your car for a 30 mile highway drive every weekend, which will help your car last longer, too. Both you and your car will enjoy the drive.


Moving to Maine would be a good idea too. It’s eight miles from anywhere to anywhere else and I’ve had the same battery for nineteen years. It’s been dead for the last seventeen but I just can’t let it go.

Thank you everyone for the good suggestions and I really like the solar charger idea. NEW twist; replaced the battery with a new one. SAME issue: car cranks very slowly once or twice for brief periods and then stops - will not start or turn over. Sounds like the battery is dead with just a brief sound up near the fuel rail. Fuses seem fine.

Now that we got to the new battery, it sounds like your starter is worn out.

Would you recommend buying a starter at a place like PepBoys or Autozone or NAPA, or do I have to go to the dealer and get a new one? Am considering a remanufactured one vs. a brand new one, but not certain; seems like it might be worth getting a new one since this part gets so much use…thank you.

I certainly do not understand the “so much use comment” but in anycase, a reason to pay what the Dealer would want for a starter does not exist.

“so much use”

If he’s making a lot of 1 mile trips then every 10,000 miles he’s using the starter nearly 10,000 times,
as opposed to a driver who makes 20 mile trips on average and uses the starter 500 times.

So much use = a starter motor is required to be used every trip one makes and is a critical component. If the starter fails; your car is not moving. A rear defrost switch, for example, is not required for the car to run or stop and is not used every trip. So I’d consider it fine to pick one up at a junkyard vs. picking up a used starter motor…

We can compare 10,000 starter activations too 500 and one is certainly able to say there was so much more use of the starter in the 10,000 case but if the starter has 100,000 “uses” in it can we still say that we have made “so much use” of the starter? We need to know how many “uses” the starter has before we can say we are using it up.

Easy to compare trip usages against eachother but not so easy to compare too the available starts to be realized, we just don’t know.

If there is nothing that extends the crank time beyond the nominal with each use I need more data to come to the conclusion about the rate the starter is being “used up”

In reality I think this car is going to show other more damaging effects of only being driven one mile each time the engine was started than simple wear on the starter. Starting a car and shutting it off after only a mile certainly does not seem an optimal parameter to achieve maximum life out of other more expensive components. Bigger fish to fry than worrying about the starter with this driving pattern.

Still no reason to pay Dealer price on a starter.

All I’m saying is that the driver making 1 mile trips uses the starter 20 times as much as the driver making 20 mile trips.
It seems obvious to me that the starter being used 20X more often will probably fail sooner.

I think NAPA is OK for starters and Autozone will be OK too. NAPA used to have a lower price starter in addition to the regular priced one. I think cheaper may be as good but the warranty is for a shorter time period. They may not offer it on foreign car starters.