Nevada_545 mentioned that high engine compartment temperature is a factor in reduced battery life. We have two recent GM cars with the battery in the trunk compartment which gets the battery away from that heat. Another advantage is that the 50 or so pounds of battery weight is moved from the front to the back where it is needed with a front heavy front wheel drive car. The effect on weight distribution in a 2800 lb car is about a 2% change on each end. 2% less at the front and 2% more at the back.
I’m guessing a car battery is more like 10 pounds. That’s 0.33% of a 3,000 pound car.
The symptoms of a low battery included dimming lights and a buzzing noise when turning the key. I have experienced “sudden death” on two batteries in Phoenix and don’t want to again! I had my charging system checked and it was fine. I use the car every day and drive out once a week to charge the battery.
I think that I will start using a load tester and continue to replace the battery every two years. The Costco batteries are high quality and I can return them for a prorated refund, no questions asked.
The consensus among the people to whom I have spoken seems to be that heat (120+ degrees) destroys batteries in about half the time it would take in a milder climate.
Also the batteries in the Civic are half of the size of regular batteries, which may have something to do with the early death.
Heat damages or ages a battery, Cold makes it loose capacity. Two different problems.
Buying a minimal battery may save you money when you buy it, but a cheap battery usually does not last as long. I can’t remember when I bought a battery that had less than a three year warranty, My last battery lasted just under 4 years. I went to buy a new battery and I had a couple of months left on the warranty, so I got a new battery for free. Which is how I got my last battery.
Honda is now using a group 51 battery to save weight and improve fuel economy. It is a very small battery and I can see how heat would kill it quickly. Honda does leave room in the tray for a group 35 (I believe) that is bigger and stronger. At least that is true of the Accord. The Civic may not have room for the bigger battery but if it does I would give it a shot.
Contrary to Joe’s experiences, I have always had longer life from the cheaper batteries. The cheaper batteries, and by cheaper, I mean the less expensive batteries in a quality line of batteries, not the elcheapo no name brands. The less expensive batteries have fewer but thicker plates. They don’t have as high an initial capacity, that is CCA’s, but they don’t wear out as fast. Unfortunately today, the “good, better, best” options are not available in many sizes today.
Costco sells Interstate batteries as replacements for Honda OEM batteries.
I have had the best luck with Interstate’s $35 refurbished (“blem”) batteries. I had one that was 11 years old when I replaced it, and it would still start the car just fine, but started to sound rather weak on those -15 degree days. I replaced that one purely for peace of mind due to its age. Who knows how long it would have lasted if I had kept it. That was either a group 75 or 78 (can’t remember which) in a little four cylinder Buick, which maybe had something to do with its long life.
As has been said, heat is what kills a battery and the heat in Phoenix will do it.
When I worked auto parts our battery supplier told us that the average expected lifespan of a battery was 3 years.
I’m sure in the intervening 10 years or so that there have been great advances in battery technology…not really.
As Keith said the cheaper, with lower CCA, batteries will last longer in hot climates. High CCA are achieved by packing the plates in batteries closer together, more plates equals more CCA. Packing the plates close together reduces the ability of the battery to shed heat, plates can overheat and warp which can short the battery and reduce it’s life.
Some cars which are known to have very hot underhood temperatures use a special battery. The original Taurus was one of these, if people didn’t purchase the correct battery when they replaced the original but just chose one that would fit they would find that their battery didn’t last as long.
I am the worse person to give advice on battery change as my use proves everyone’s good points. I have never had fewer then 8 years out of a battery living in the Frozen North. But, 2 years seems a little excessive. I would buy a jumper battery with an air pump, keep it in my car and waited till the battery had slower then normal turnover problems.