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Was I ripped off

Took my Xterra to the dealer today for a oil change and they told me my truck failed the cold start test. It’s only 3 yrs old with only 37k on it. They said it wasn’t cranking out enough power. I was mad and said its only 3yrs old, but I’m very busy and drive at odd times on dark roads and didn’t want to have any problems, so i said change it. Cost about $130.00 for a 84 month battery. what do you all think?


A three year old battery is reaching the end of it’s dependable life. What they did was a current draw on the battery. And how the battery reacted after this current draw test was performed, give them an indication that the battery could be a problem in the near future.

I think for the money, these guy’s probably did you a big favor.


Well, what year is this Xterra. Since this is '08 and if one assumes your vehicle is an '05 that means the vehicle was likely built in the summer or fall of '04. The battery was manufactured long before the vehicle was built so this means the battery is probably around 4.5 years old and it’s quite likely the battery was borderline and needed to be replaced.

Most batteries usually start giving up their lives around the 4 to 5 year mark.

It sounds fair to me but you could only be ripped off if they replaced this battery without your approval and since you said yea, no harm no foul.
The test performed was probably a battery load test and that’s a perfectly legitimate test to determine just how worthy a battery really is.

Thanks tester that makes me feel better.

The life of a battery is about 3 to 4 years, so to replace it was maybe in line. I do think you can find a better price than the dealer can give you, but how much I would not know.

Yes its a 2005 with a July 05 build date.

the last time i took my 2000 toyota tacoma in for service, they told me the battery was not holding a charge- and i might to replace it- but that it wold be less expensive for me to get one at an automotive store than for them to sell me one and install it- so i went to pep boys and got a battery but fyi- you have to pay a refundable deposit so that you will return the used up one so that the store can dispose of it properly. i think it cost $75 or 85 and the deposit was about the same amount. did you tell them you thought it was too soon for the battery to be dead or ask them to do some diagnostics on the car’s electrical system to find out if anything is wrong? i think i heard the same thing- the average life of a battery is 5 years but mine lasted 6 or 7- isn’t it the distributor cap that charges the battery or is it the alternator? seems like i replaced that a time or two on my old ford tempo.

I think you were ripped off. A modern, twenty-first century battery will last WAY longer than three years, and if your Xterra started every time you turned the key it passed the “cold start” test.

There is no such thing as a “cold start” test for a battery. The dealer made it up. There is a LOAD TEST, which is the true test of a battery’s condition, but “cold start” is what you do every morning, and you didn’t say you had any trouble starting your Xterra, regardless of temperature.

I wonder how soon they will tell you that your new 84 month battery fails the “cold start” test. My guess is around 36 months, or sooner if they think they can get away with it.

How does one have an 05 vehicle with a July 05 build date? It must have been the last one off the line followed by the first 06! I can’t remember ever seeing a vehicle with that late a production date for the year model involved.

I still disagree that you were ripped off. Most batteries will easily last 3 years but I’ve seen more batteries than I can remember that were bad from day one or within a few months even.
The battery I just replaced in my SAAB was a whopping 9 months old and would not hold a charge overnight. (And there’s no voltage draw on it; this is with the battery on the bench.)
A new Sears battery I bought for a motorcycle dropped dead the day after I bought it.

A lot is also going to depend on if the battery ever gets run completely down or if it spends some idle time of a week here or a week there. Idle time (as in a non-running engine) promotes battery sulfation.

There may be some misinterpretation of this cold start business as the current required to start the engine when cold will be much higher than when it’s warm.
Maybe the dealer was testing current draw on a cold engine; something that should be done any time a battery or alternator complaint is suspected.

I think you were ripped off. A modern, twenty-first century battery will last WAY longer than three years,

I would say "I think you were ripped off. A modern, twenty-first century battery MAY last WAY longer than three years.

Local weather conditions, the car it is in and driving conditions all play a roll. I average about 5-6 years on a battery (in my cars with the battery away from the heat of the engine (Sunbeam Imp and Miata) they lasted even longer. 3-4 years is not really unusual.

The only thing that I would have balked at is the price. For ~$50., you could get a battery of the same quality at Wal-Mart or Costco, but you would have to install it yourself. If you are relucatant to do this type of job yourself, then perhaps the dealer’s price was worthwhile.

If I was told the same thing by a dealership, I would say, “No thank you”, and then I would go to Sears for a load test (supposedly there is a fee, but for the past two years, they have done it for me without a fee). If the Sears load test indicated that the battery was failing, I would then immediately go to Costco to buy my new battery, and I would install it myself. In fact, the scenario that I just described is exactly what I did about 2 months ago.

Look At It This Way!

The battery may have been no good and they did you a service by replacing it.
Maybe it wasn’t really too bad, just a little weaker than new, but would have lasted 3 more years, possibly, who really knows how long? So, worst case, you maybe spent $65 too much, half of a $130 per six year battery expense. You used the original for 3 of 6 projected years of longevity. The good news? You shouldn’t encounter a dead battery (at the worst possible time) for at least 7 years. You changed the battery on your schedule, not the battery’s schedule. Don’t lose any sleep over this.

Maybe what we are dealing with is the batterys CCA (cold cranking amperes)not a “cold start test” maybe the Dealer did not explain what and how they were testing.

A GM Tech rep once told me that 23 mths was average battery life span in the desert heat where I live,I have seen many batterys fail a CCA test before 3yrs. For almost 10 years GM has required that batterys get tested using the conductance method,using a GM required test meter that spits out a failure code,in a conductance test the battery is not loaded as in the older carbon pile test and the battery does not have to be fully charged to test,it still gives a CCA rating although.

You were ripped off! How could you fall for that line?

Give it to me to atone for your sins!

BTW, it’s yellow isn’t it? My daughter wants a yellow one… :wink:

My Xterra isn’t yellow. I think I just gave in to them because I’ve been so busy and I just didn’t want to have any problems. I don’t have the time to run to stores and find a battery and change it and then return the old one. I was talking to a friend and he had the orginal battery in his 12 year old corolla when he sold it.

I agree with what CSA said. Even IF you didn’t really need a new battery yet, at least now you’ll never have to be worried about being stranded in a Waffle-House parking lot at 2:30AM in a rough part of town.

It’s an inevitable cost… Pay now or pay later. Either way it costs $$$$$.

Next time you’re in a situation like this take the car to a Mom & Pop mechanic for a second opinion. You really don’t need to be taking your Xterra for the dealership for maintenance. But the decisions are yours to make.

If the battery was drained to dead one or more times, it can cut down on its life considerably, especially if it is left sitting dead.

I thought Walmart installed the batteries as part of the purchase. Some auto parts stores do.

Next time go to the Wal-Mart for your battery. Would have cost you $65.00, tax included, and you’d have gotten $9.00 for your old battery, and a better replacement plan if it dies before the 36 months are up. Also, 3 years is the best you could expect, even from a 5 or 6 year battery, at the present time (planned breakdowns insure quicker return sales)… Always plan to replace a battery in the 3rd year of its life, esp before a cold winter. My mechanic uncle says buying a battery that is more than a 3 year battery is a marketing ploy to keep people coming back to those products. He only sells them because his “more educated” customers keep insisting they are better batteries and demand he sells them or they’ll go elsewhere.