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Replacement battery?

I’ve got an '04 Ranger with the original battery, when should I be prepared to get a replacement? Background info: vehicle has 43,000 miles. Often sits for weeks, between being driven. At those times, I remove the negative battery terminal.

You may have some time left on it, possibly a couple of years maybe. I suggest you have the battery load tested to see how good it is and base your decision on the results of that.

You are doing a good job of caring for it. Most batteries are good for 5 - 6 years. I usually wait until I start feeling it going weak. and if it is five or more I replace it then. I have had some batteries far longer. They were those that were located away from the engine heat. The Miata had it in the trunk and the Beetle had it under the back seat. They both lasted a lot longer. I got 12 years out of one and ten out of the other.

As Cougar suggests, a load test will tell you how it’s doing. Also have the fluid level in the cells checked if it’s not a sealed non-servicable battery, as many are these days. That will also help extend its life.

I’ve experienced the same thing as Joseph. 5-6 years is pretty average on my customers cars. Newer cars theses days have so many electrical gadgets that shorten a batteries life.

If and when you DO need a battery, don’t be tempted by a bargain battery from the local parts store. I always advise my customers to buy a factory original battery, or high-line Interstate MTP. A good electrical source for all those computers is very important on newer cars. All batteries are not created equal, and you’ll be better off with the best battery you can buy.

You replace other components when they show signs that they are approaching the end of their normal lifespans. Why not do the same for your battery? You may have another five years to go.

Your other option is to deal with your anxiety. Certainly it does no harm to replace the battery sooner, like tomorrow. A load test is also something to be considered, but remember that the guys who do it for you really want to sell you a new battery. Expect a report something like, “OK for now but borderline.” So it’s up to you.

I would agree with that for most parts. However with these newer cars, a battery has a significant affect on the computers and other electrical components. It’s not uncommon to develop engine or transmission computer errors or running problems from a battery that starts the car okay, but just doesn’t quite have enough voltage for the computers to operate correctly.

Also for the load test, the one I use in my shop has an automated print-out, which prints out battery and charging system test results with ‘PASS’ or ‘FAIL’. Most modern test machines have this feature.

A battery normally looses 1% of charge a day. Just sitting around for long periods is bad, the plates start to sulfate. Suggest you get a solar panel to keep the charge up. They have them with cigarette lighter plugs for an easy hookup. VW ships the cars with this item and a lot of them end up on ebay.

I have trouble understanding how a battery can have enough power to start a car, which takes lots of amps, yet can’t run the electronics, specially with the alternator pushing the voltage up to 14v or so. Auto electronics are probably (it’s been a while since I looked into this) specified to run on quite low voltage, probably around 10 volts.

(later) I found IEEE specs referencing voltages as low as 6 volts, ie, modules should operate with voltages that low.

More and more cars these days are using the reduction gear type starters, which really don’t use that many amps to start the car. So I wouldn’t realte the voltage to amperage.

With the alternator charging voltage, I would give an example of this. Sometimes you can have a dead battery, and hook your cables to jump off the car. Now your jumper cables are right on the battery posts, so they are powering everything up in the dead car, going straight to the starter. Why won’t it start? Sometimes they do, but occasionally, you have to have the other car running and use its alternator to precharge the dead battery for awhile, and even then sometimes that doesn’t work and you’ll have to just put a fresh battery in. Has that happened to anyone here? The problem is the dead battery is sucking up all the incoming voltage, and there isn’t enough left over for the starter. The same thing happens while driving down the road. If you have a marginal battery, your alternator can put out all the voltage it wants to, but the battery is going to suck in a lot of it, and there may not be enough left over for the computers.

As for the computers themselves, their operating requirments are much higher than in the past. More and more cars have coil on plug ignition, which means the computer has a voltage consuming driver inside for each of however many cylinders it has, plus all the other capacitors for variable cam timing, variable length intake runners, 4+ oxygen sensors are not uncommon. They are asked to do alot!!

The solar recharger is a good idea IF the vehicle’s cigarette lighter circuit is always “hot”. On most of the vehicles that I have owned, this idea would not work, as the cigarette lighter circuit was disconnected when the ignition was off.

As to the Ranger, I don’t know how the lighter on that truck is wired, so it might turn out to be a good idea, or it might not work at all.

Good point. An extra cigarette lighter socket with a protection fuse would be easy to install hooked to always hot circuit.

Some quality solar chargers come with hippo clamps for direct attachment to the battery posts. If not, you can easily buy a pair of clamps from Radio Shack and thereby bypass the lighter altogether.

By unhooking the battery you are resetting the PCM and losing all the adaptive learning it has done. You might be costing as much in fuel efficiency while it relearns as you would for more frequent battery replacement. In addition, the first battery has a warranty so it needs replacement prematurely, you won?t have to pay for all of it.

A solar charger is a great idea unless it is parked under cover.

Although you are caring well for your battery, all batteries eventually need replacement. If you live in the Northern states (cold ones)an original equipment battery should be replaced before the 7th winter latest.

If you live in a warmer climate, the battery will easily go 8 years, but a heavy accessory drain or trailer towing will shorten its life. My son once pimped up his car with a killer stereo system and immediately had to replace his 4 year old battery as well as the alternator!

Hard to say if you are due for replacement but I question the need.
I have a 1990 Toyota Pickup. I put a Sears DieHard Gold 84 month guaranteed into it in Dec 1999 and the battery still seems good although I think it is getting so old that I should replace it. Maybe just have it tested.

Anyway, new batteries seem to have longer rated life so ???

GM factory reps said 23 months was average here in AZ. Many batteries will still start the engine but fail conductance,load or die from physical defects (Delcos like to leak acid at the postive side terminal) Wonder if this concern has been addresed?

Contrary to somewhat popular belief, heat kills a battery much faster than cold. JM mentioned it with the cars that have the battery away from the heat of the engine. In the deep south, batteries are doing good to last 5 years. Yes, more of them die in the winter than don’t, but it’s not the winter that killed it, it was the summer heat.

The reason you can’t jump start a car most of the time without the donor vehicle running has little to do with the alternator, it has a lot more to do with the cheap jumper cables you own. I’ve seen jumper cables with as small as 6 and 8 guage wire. That won’d do at all. Try it with a set of heavy cables made out of welder wire sometime. Guarantee it’ll start if it’s going to. The cheaper sets of cables can’t carry enough current to start the car which is why you have to charge the battery up a little to get some help. I learned that lesson once with a boat engine. I put the battery in the bow and ran #4 wire back to the motor figuring that’d be enough to start it. It wouldn’t crank the engine. I went back and got 2 runs of welder cable and had no problem.

Battery brands: The fact is, there aren’t near as many battery manufacturers as there are batteries. Sears for the most part has used Johnson Controlls for several years to build their batteries. I noticed this year, Wal Mart’s marine batteries are also made by Johnson Controlls and are the same as the Sears Die Hard. That’s not necessarily true of the other batteries at Wal Mart. I’ve never been an Interstate battery fan. Deka makes a darn good battery. I’ve actually got a set of Deka sealed gel batteries in my boat. They are going on 6 years now, and that’s darn good for a set of marine batteries. Prior to that I did lucky to get 3 years.

I like to get the highest amperage battery I can stuff into the battery box. I’ve seen a lot of places selling a battery in a class that says “Up To 800 amps” or some similar bs. I don’t want to know Up To, I want to know it’s number. Sears has always been bad for that kind of thing with their 400 models of Die Hards that are car specific. If I’m looking at 3 group 27 batteries and one is 500 amps, another 700 and another 800, I would choose the 800 amp and move the cables if necessary.

I’ve never had much luck out of OEM batteries, usually 3 years max.


What condition whould you have to experience before you considered you may have a battery concern? I know what it would take for me to start looking.