Sebring eats batteries

Our 2000 Chrysler Sebring convertible, purchased new, now with 20,000 miles, has gone through 6 batteries.

We had a 7 year warranty. In that time, the dealer replaced the seat belt module, because, “Durangos had a similar problem.” The problem was never fixed.

It leaves my wife stranded, we have had battery acid in the driveway, if it sits for a week (sometimes less), the battery is dead, 2 mechanics have tested for shorts and measured the draws saying all are within normal limits. The new battery, put in on 11/12/2007, now puts out 0.3 volts.

Any ideas? What should we do?

“What should we do?”

You drive this car 2,500 miles per year. The battery seldom has a chance to recharge. I’m not surprised that batteries don’t last very long.

My advice? Buy a Battery Tender, and use it. A Battery Tender is NOT the same as a battery charger. You can get a Battery Tender Jr. for about $40 and it will keep your battery in top condition for as long as possible.

Having said that, if you only drive your car 2,500 miles per year you should expect to have battery problems.

Six batteries in seven years is abnormal even if the car is only driven rarely. You said there was battery acid in the driveway. If the batteries are leaking it’s not because the car is sitting unused. It sounds like the battery is getting overheated and that will happen only when the car is running. Has anyone measured the charging voltage? Is the battery being overcharged by a non-regulated charging system?

If the battery is being overcharged, it is entirely possible that battery acid will bubble out of the vents, if vented. Another characteristic of an overcharged and overheated battery is buckling of the plates. Once this has happened, the battery will not hold a charge and will discharge itself via the internal shorts. This can happen to a brand-new battery if the charging system is overcharging the battery.

Given the history with this car, I think Chrysler should help you find the fix. Have you taken it to another shop, or even another Chrysler dealer?

You have some choices about what to do next. For the sake of having a reliable car, take it to an independent shop with a good reputation and have them diagnose and fix the problem. Ask for the old parts. Once the car is fixed, take the old parts and the repair bill and ask Chrysler to reimburse you for the repair that their dealer couldn’t take care of in seven years.

Or, you can go to a different Chrysler dealer, show them the history, and ask if they will fix it at Chrysler’s expense.

Personally, I’d recommend the independent shop route.

There is no way that Chrysler will goodwill warranty a repair like this. This car is 9 model years old. Might as well be 100 years old - not even on Chrysler’s radar scope any more.

We averaged 4500-5000 miles/year the first 4 years. This problem started within the first year.

I begged for a new voltage regulator, but the Chrysler dealer said that the monitor said nothing was wrong, so he can’t replace it and that it was part of a module that ran ~$1000.

Buckling plates makes a lot of sense, I’ll bring it back to our independent guy. Thanks guys.