When is a battery dead?

We have a 2005 Honda Odyssey, orginal battery. It has ~40K miles on it. For the second time in two weeks, my wife sat in the car for a little more or less than an hour with the lights, radio and DVD player on and she needed a jump.

Both times, it was a “quick” jump… hook up sit for 30 sec and crank it’s on.

She says that she needs a new battery. I think she needs to turn on the engine for 5 minutes every 15 or 20 minutes she is going to do that… who is right…

(and please don’t bring up the “do it because she wants it” reason, her “wanting” repairs have cost me too much this month.)


Oh forgot two things…

  1. the battery normaly does not habve any problems, but it is starting to get cold here in PA
  2. I put a volt meter on the battery 2 weeks ago and got about 14.2 Volts on it.

A good test to determine how much life a battery has uses a device called a conductance meter, these meters test a battery’s abilty to be charged, while I was working for GM a conductance test was preformed on all suspect batterys. The conductance test tool was considered “essential equipment”, that is, GM required the Dealer to have them, and use them If they wanted their warranty claims considered.

Google “conductance test” to get more technical info.

Myself, I replace a battery whenever I have the least suspicion that it is not 100% up to task,no test equipment involved. Here in AZ we were told 23mths. is the average battery life span. I know others have stories about vehicles with the same battery over 5 years,thats OK with me. Get a new quality battery.

An hour is too long to have lights of any kind turned on along with a DVD player. Twenty minutes should be the maximum to keep a battery healthy. Laziness is not a virtue and I am sure than now a new battery is needed. Too many drain cycles.

You are right. Keep discharging the battery a few times and you will need a new one. Get her a booster battery for her birthday.

Four years is still fairly young for a battery unless it is subjected to 120F Arizona heat or -40F North Dakota cold. Here in Calif I expect 7 years.

That being said, maintenance free batteries do not like to be deeply discharged. The older they are, the less tolerant of deep cycle discharge they get. It doesn’t sound like your wife’s two episodes drained it completely dead, but it is safe to say she didn’t do it any good.

Do you mean the headlights or the interior lights? Headlights are a much more significant load than the stereo unless she is rattling the windows with thumper music.

She should be able to run the stereo and maybe a small interior courtesy light for several hours without running down the battery, but if she has the headlights on, that won’t work.

My experience has been that original batteries crap out around 4-5 years old. 3 years is not unheard of. I do not know the reason, but have the battery load tested now, and see if it passes. If not, replace it now. The dead of winter is a horrible place to find out the battery is shot. And the cold weather will make a marginal battery fail.

The battery is now 3-4 years old, and most batteries–with good care–will last 4 or 5 years. But, if your wife is in the habit of sitting for an hour or so with the lights and other accessories turned on, then the battery has been deeply discharged too often.

Just playing the radio for an hour is not an issue, but once you also use lights for an hour, the battery is being abused. If this combination of electrical uses happened just once, it would likely not be a problem, but deeply discharging a 3-4 year old battery more than once definitely reduces its useful life span.

Bear in mind that a weak battery causes your alternator to work much harder than it would otherwise, in order to keep the weakened battery charged. Also, bear in mind that the colder weather is putting additional strain on that overworked battery, and as a result that alternator is being strained even more than usual to keep that battery charged.

For the grand sum of $60. (Costco) to $75. (Wal-Mart) you can replace the battery now, and thereby assure yourself of being able to reliably start the vehicle and possibly avoid having to replace the very expensive alternator. If you don’t want to do the battery replacement yourself, you could go to Sears, and have essentially the same battery installed by them for $110.

Or, you could just keep going until the battery is too far gone to be jump started in…a few days, or weeks…leaving your wife stranded and in need of a tow. When your car is towed, you would likely wind up buying a battery from that mechanic for…perhaps $140. or more. As the old saying says, “You pays your money, and you takes your choice”.

Buy a battery “jump starter” I got one at Sears for about $50. Charge it once a week or two (it has a charge indicator on it). Show her how to use it. Sounds like whatever you do, new battery or old, she’ll be running the lights . . . DVD . . . whatever . . . without turning the car on to charge the battery. She’s gonna discharge an old or NEW battery doing this . . . so get the jump starter show her how to use it. Do you need a new battery? Probably, get it when you’re buying the jump starter. I know that it is hard to convince some folks about things automotive . . . I just acccept whatever my wife does, advise her in a nice way, and fix or deal with the problems as they come up. Rocketman

ok, thanks, I think the general statment is that either the multiple deep discharges of a 3 year old battery (BTW: a few times a year ago the lights were left on and the battery died and came back with a jump or a trickle charger) or the impending winter will make the death of the battery come shortly.

… Just for fun, I;ll send her the link for this thread…

I test batteries using a hydrometer, typically one cell reads low when a battery goes. Your current battery has seen some rough use, probably time for a new one. Radio won’t use much power but the lights (interior, I assume) do. Any way to avoid that?

An hour shouldn’t be too long to have the radio on…But a DVD and lights can draw some amps. Also…every time you drain a batter it really shortens the life of a battery.

Unless the lights you are saying that your wife leaves on while she listens to the radio/DVD player are the headlights, I don’t think that this would discharge a good battery to the point where it wouldn’t carnk the engine in warm weather. Leaving the headlights on is a different story.

I spent an afternoon cleaning my minivan with the doors open and after a couple of hours I couldn’t start the van until I put a charger on the battery. Three months later when it was really cold, the engine barely cranked when I left work to run a couple of errands. I had to add purchasing a battery to my list. As others have suggested, have the battery load tested. If it’s weak, replace it.

What kind of DVD player…Just for music…I’ll agree with you…but playing a video…it’ll draw a more then enough amps to drain a battery in an hour.

No, a laptop can play a DVD, it’s got a lot less juice than a car battery.

The laptop doesn’t have to start an engine afterwards :wink:

It was interior lights only.
The iem two weeks ago the DVD player (intergrated with the car) was playing
Last night it was the radio.

Headlights were probably not on, but last night the fan may have been on also.