Speaking of Car Batteries


#1

I’ve always waited for my car battery to die before replacing it. Some people advise replacing it every 5 years.

The battery in my Tundra is almost 9 yrs old and shows no sign of weakness. Is my battery living on borrowed time?

What do you do?

Do you practice preventive maintenance/replacement or wait until its life runs its course?

Any thoughts on this are welcome.

Thanks in advance.


#2

9 years is pretty amazing.

I used to wait until the battery died, because I’m cheap. But these days, so much of a car’s functions are stored in volatile memory that is erased if power is lost (everything from engine operating parameters to making the auto-down/up windows work right) I replace it when it starts showing signs of getting weak, and I make sure constant power is maintained while it’s being swapped - your battery shop will have a power maintainer that plugs into either the OBD2 port under the steering wheel or the cigarette lighter to keep the car powered while the battery is swapped.

It wouldn’t really hurt anything to lose power, but it would be a headache. I’d have to retrain all the windows, unlock the radio, unlock the navigation system, re-program in radio and XM presets, etc etc etc. I don’t feel like spending several hours poking buttons in my car just because I tried to stretch the battery change interval too far.


#3

Batteries like all mechanical things have a limited life. One battery may live 4 years and the next one (same make and model) may die after two years.

The question is this. If you are a doctor who does house calls or, I would suggest changing the battery with a like battery and replace it a lot sooner. Even. You also may want to consider that cranking that last bit of life may be hard on other parts and most important to me, it may fail when it maybe very inconvenient


#4

Wow, 9 years is impressive. Definitely living on borrowed time. Winter is coming, and that’s when weak batteries die. Wait for a fall sale and get a good quality replacement. If you have a Costco membership, their Kirkland brand batteries made by Johnson Controls have a good reputation.


#5

To determine if a battery should be replaced or not, have the battery tested with a conductance type battery tester. These type of testers leave no doubt if the battery requires replacement.

http://www.midtronics.com/shop/products-1/battery-and-electrical-system-diagnostics/mdx-series-conductance-battery-and-electrical-system-analyzers/midtronics-mdx-600-battery-tester

Tester


#6

Thanks Tester, but I think it might be cheaper to buy a new battery. The cheapest I could find was a Midtronics 650 at Amazon for $550… :slight_smile:


#7

Some parts stores use that type of battery tester and will check your battery for free.

Tester


#8

Thanks, Tester. I just might do that. In the meantime I own one of these (made by Innova). Do you think it would be accurate enough?


#9

That’s a battery/charging system monitor. Not a battery/charging system tester.

So it won’t let you know if the battery is about to give up the ghost.

Tester


#10

5 year battery replacement might be fine for down south…but not for here in the North East. Batteries tend to last a lot longer in colder weather. Heat is a batteries biggest killer. Here in the North East…7-10 years is the norm.

I usually wait until it goes…or starts showing signs that it’s getting tired. When it start to turn over slower then normal is a good sign.


#11

Oh… I see. But wouldn’t a good charge status mean the battery is good?

Please pardon my ignorance on the subject.


#12

Not necessarily. You can have a battery that shows 12.5 volts which means fully charged. But you don’t know how many cranking amps there are until you hit the key and the engine doesn’t start. This happened to me.

Drove home from work without an indication of a charging system/battery problem. After changing clothes went out to start the engine and nothing, nill, nada. Connected battery tester and the battery read 0 volts. Sometimes a battery provides no warning when it decides to bite the dust.

Tester


#13

“Sometimes a battery provides no warning when it decides to bite the dust.”

That has almost always been my experience. It sounds more & more like replacing a battery every 5 or 6 years is a good idea.


#14

No, it doesn’t test the battery’s ability to deliver current. It just gives the voltage. A parts store will test your charging system for free.


#15

What about the SOLAR BA5 100-1200 Cold Cranking Amps Electronic Battery Tester? Would it tell me more than the Innova?


#16

It’s not a conductance battery tester, but it’s the next best thing.

Tester


#17

I usually wait till it starts cranking less vigorously, and definitely replace it before winter in such a situation. We \get about 7-8 years out of an original equipment factory battery. Our Kirkland units from Costco last about 7-9 years as well. Don’t go cheap when replacing a battery unless you live in Seattle and don’t have extreme temperatures.

Our 1994 Nissan had its original battery last 7 years and the replacement from Costco lasted 8 years. The next one from Wal-mart held up well and was going strong when we sold the car in 2012


#18

I run a battery until it dies. But, I have a jumper box, a 6 amp charger, a 1 amp trickle charger, and a battery tender charger. Jumping my car doesn’t faze me much, but some people are very fearful of being “stranded” somewhere. I can see why that fear can make someone comfortable with replacing a battery every 5 or 6 years. It just isn’t the way I operate.


#19

For me the test of time when to replace a battery is if it is cranking slowly. As Tester said many auto parts stores will test them for free, 2 years ago I noticed my daughters 02 saturn was cranking slowly, Auto parts store said the battery was at 65 amps, I bought a new 750 cca (cold cranking amps) battery and it was installed for free at the parts store, but insisted they used a memory saver. The guy was not offended as 2 weeks earlier they had to have a honda towed and pay for a replacement ecm after replacing a battery and not using a memory saver.


#20

@Docnick, “Don’t go cheap when replacing a battery unless you live in Seattle and don’t have extreme temperatures.”

Hey, our average high temperature in August is 77 degrees and in January it’s not unusual for us to have nights that get below freezing.

I agree that it’s best to replace a battery before it fails, if for no other reason than convenience. Another point to make is that a battery may still have enough to start your car, but if it’s really weak your alternator is working a whole lot harder to maintain the proper voltage with everything running. I wonder how many marginal batteries have contributed to a shortened life of an alternator.