Should I replace my car battery?


#1

I’ve just had my 3 year old battery tested and the service rep said I should replace it. The test results measured 497 CCA for the battery rated at 800 CCA. The voltage was 12.86. I’ve had absolutely no trouble with starting my 2008 Town & Country Van. Do I need to replace my battery?


#2

Was the battery test in a freezer? How could you test CCA, Cold Cranking Amps, at room temperature? Rhetorical question, you can’t. The voltage is just fine, no issues there.

IF you believe the test equipment, you will probably encounter some starting problems at the lowest temps IF you live in a cold climate.

Do you live in a cold climate where it gets below 15 degrees or so? Do you own jumper cables and know how to use them? OR Do you own a “jump pack” and keep it in your T&C?

I wouldn’t replace it until it either won’t start the car or it cranks very slow on a the first sub 20 degree day - but I have a jump pack and know how to use it so I’ll get home.


#3

Thanks Mustangman; I do own cables and fortunately I live in the deep south where the winters are very mild. Your advice falls in line with what I think is probably the best alternative.


#4

If the garage tested the cranking amps at 80F, the number can be divided by 1.28 to get the cold cranking amps. I would not discount the cranking amp measurement. You can confirm the battery condition by having a battery conductance test run. Call around to auto parts stores to see if they have a battery conductance tester. The chains will usually run the test for free, figuring that you will buy a battery there if the battery is bad.


#5

I’ll go against the grain

Replace the battery now

Sure beats calling the auto club for a jump, or asking a stranger for a jump, when it won’t start in the bad part of town

I live in southern California, and I routinely see 3 or 4 year old batteries fall flat on their face even during our mild winters. One fairly cold night with mild frost is enough to leave you stranded

Be proactive

By the way, it sounds like the shop actually did use a conductance tester. Many shops now use small, handheld testers, which are in fact conductance testers.


#6

My batteries last about 4years in all my cars. Replacing the battery is not a bad idea. It does appear to be charging, so the charging system seems to work.


#7

The last couple of batteries I had fail just failed without warning. You are looking at a battery in the near future so just replace it.


#8

I noticed my daughters battery was dying in her saturn, cranking slow, 65 cca was the reading. You may be fine for a bit since you live in a warmer climate. one easy test for me was turn signal blinking speed with the engine off, but that may not apply to newer cars.


#9

Since you live in the deep south, I’d replace the battery now. The kind of relentless summer heat you have there plays hob with batteries. 3 years life is about what to expect. There’s no harm done of course keeping it until it one day all you hear is a “click” and the battery won’t crank the engine. As long as you don’t mind not being able to drive the car when and wherever that happens.


#10

You could always get a second opinion… I mean from a shop that tests it, not over the internet from people 1000 miles away.


#11

The battery is delivering much less than what it is rated for, and while being tested in warm weather, which should improve the battery’s performance. You might be able to eke a little more time from it, but why wait? If you change it now, you can shop around and get the best deal you can find for whatever brand you want instead of potentially being stranded when nothing is open, or being forced to buy a battery in a mad scramble at whatever markup you’re stuck with.


#12

My car batteries have always lasted from eight to ten years. As they aged, I would then carry a jumper battery for security and plan on replacing the original ASAP after my first episode. IMO, that’s the best and safest way to maximize the time you used a battery.


#13

What part of the country do you live in @dagosa … what type of climate? Batteries seem to have less life span in very hot climates. Here in San Jose , which is a mild climate, I usually get 6-7 years from a battery on my daily driver. My truck’s battery – I don’t use the truck as often – is still working fine and 11 years old.

Edit: The idea of buying a battery and just keeping it in the car until the current battery fails is something the OP could consider too. I had a co-worker that did that with his failing alternator, and replaced it on the side of the freeway the day it totally failed.

Edit number 2: Is that a poodle? That’s a cute dog!


#14

I @GeorgeSanJose‌
I live in the north so the length of time I can still use a battery is longer then those in warmer areas where the battery fluid evaporates more readily. Regardless, I would do the same thing. I really like having these jumper batteries around and find them safer then jumping from another car, use them as short term trolling power, for camping and jump starting boats and temporary power for my trim and accessories when boats are in storage. I always keep two of them on hand. Cold weather requires more cranking Amps and problems may surface earlier on defective batteries but my approach would be the same. Btw, am episode for replacement would not be a failure to start but could just be slow cranking at temps in the single numbers. My 4Runner battery which was ten years old, started like summer time below zero.

I also keep a charger on hand for emergency jump starts and charging of all batteries.

Always keeping a car tuned and in good repair and using synthetic oil helps car starting regardless of the condition of the battery.


#15

“IMO, that’s the best and safest way to maximize the time you used a battery.”

But isn’t the goal to have a car that always starts? If it is, I would recommend replacing that battery before the next cold/hot snap. IMO waiting to replace a battery until it fails is like waiting to replace a worn out tire until it blows out.

“The idea of buying a battery and just keeping it in the car until the current battery fails is something the OP could consider too. I had a co-worker that did that with his failing alternator, and replaced it on the side of the freeway the day it totally failed.”

Did you ask your co-worker why the heck he didn’t replace the alternator in the safety, comfort, and convenience of his own garage rather than drive the thing until it quit somewhere?


#16

@‌acemaster.
So what do you use for criteria in battery replacement ? Just replace it habitually when ever you think it’s time or when ever some technician who recommends you buy his . There are lots of people out there who do not have a battery tester or the means to use one correctly who fall victim to bogus too early replacement schemes. Always be prepared to buy new and have a jumper battery when any episode that indicates potential failure like hard starting etc. I refuse to change batteries every two to four years “just because” I want to contribute to the college fund of the owner’s kids of a service station. Depending on lots of factors, batteries can give service of nearly twice that.

Your example of comparing a battery to a tire is completely misleading. If the car fails to start, you use your jumper then decide. A blown tire always indicates the car has started. Tell me that battery testing by a technician who benefited from a sale is as reliable as a tire tread depth gauge. As @Mustangman‌ rightfully indicates, you are completely at the mercy of the technician. Remember my advice always assumes you have the means to start your car should an episode of no starting or slow starting occurs and you are taking my statements out of context !


#17

@jtsanders.
If all your batteries only last for four to 5 years, what do you use for criteria ? Starting failure or slow starting ? Because that is my advice with the addendum of having a jumper battery, which I feel s infinitely safer and more dependable then jumping of someone els, often a stranger’s car.

@oblivion‌
If you have a jumper, you won’t be stranded. IMHO, these should be as important to have around as a spare tire, especially in this day and age of the plethora of electric draw from all the “appliances” new cars have. You can be stranded with a defective or abused battery that’s less then a year old.


#18

The test equipment decides if a battery has passed or failed the performance test. It is up the the person using the test equipment to enter the correct CCA value before the test.

A US spec. Town & Country usually comes with a 600 CCA battery, does your vehicle have a 800 CCA battery in it ? Test results of 497 CCA for a 600 CCA battery may be passing but not in strong health.

I have noticed when replacing starters that have burned solenoid contacts the owners had the battery replaced within the last 90 days. I believe they continued to use a weak battery for to long. When cranking the engine with low battery voltage the amperage draw increases damaging the starter solenoid contacts.

People don’t always notice the signs of a weak battery. I see cars in for oil changes or recalls all the time that crank slow or barely start, the owners don’t seem to care.


#19

I keep a jump pack in the truck at all times, for my own use and for jumping others cars and trucks.

I charge it once a month when I clean out the back of the truck, so it’s always ready to go.

At the first trouble with my own battery, I take it to the local battery maker that I get mine from. They test it and have never steared me wrong.

Yosemite


#20

@dagosa, my criterion is that it doesn’t start. The last battery went out at work, and I bought a new one at an auto parts store about 2 minutes away. The others went out at home.