Author Topic: Random dash lights and the original 11 year old battery  (Read 713 times)

geekette

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Random dash lights and the original 11 year old battery
« on: July 27, 2020, 09:01:54 AM »
We have a low milage (70k) 2009 HHR which has given us few problems. 

A couple days ago, however, the check engine light came on solid (indicating an emissions problem).  I reseated the gas cap, which may or may not have helped, but after driving for about a half hour, it was out the next time I turned the car on.

The next day the tire pressure low indicator light came on.  The individual pressure indicators all showed normal, and checking the tires with a physical gauge also showed normal.  Then that indicator light went out after a bit.

The battery is inside the vehicle, with the spare tire.  It's a tiny thing, and it's closing in on 11 years now.  The car starts fine every time, but should we just replace it?

ChickenStash

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Re: Random dash lights and the original 11 year old battery
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2020, 09:08:30 AM »
Most autoparts stores will pull the codes for whatever is setting off the CEL for free. Start there and see what codes are being thrown. They can also do a battery load test to see if they battery is in good condition. At 11 years I'd say it is probably due for replacement - the autoparts stores will sometimes replace it for free if you buy the battery there.

Daley

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Re: Random dash lights and the original 11 year old battery
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2020, 09:14:50 AM »
The battery is inside the vehicle, with the spare tire.  It's a tiny thing, and it's closing in on 11 years now.  The car starts fine every time, but should we just replace it?

Most auto parts shops will test batteries for free, and often give you a little printout of actual battery status. If you have to replace the battery, go Costco's Interstate. It's getting impossible to find good batteries with a warranty past three years, and the last reliable bastion of high turnover Johnson Control batteries (Walmart Everstart Maxx) has even gone over to the garbage Exide batteries this year... so just go with a battery from someplace with a good exchange policy instead.

This said, I poked over at Consumer Reports and the general interbutts, and the HHR's apparently have a bit of a history and reputation in regard to electrical problems. YMMV, but something to be aware of.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2020, 09:19:25 AM by Daley »

geekette

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Re: Random dash lights and the original 11 year old battery
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2020, 11:16:59 AM »
Well, we bought it new, and it's been very low maintenance so far.  I just got a Costco membership, so I'll check there.

Samuel

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Re: Random dash lights and the original 11 year old battery
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2020, 12:34:54 PM »
Tire pressure sensor units have their own batteries that don't last forever, usually around 10 years. That particular light could be related to failing TPMS sensors given the timeframe.

My 2010 Civic just began throwing a TPMS alert despite the tires not actually being low. I figure the sensors are going bad (and don't plan to replace them).



Sibley

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Re: Random dash lights and the original 11 year old battery
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2020, 12:49:48 PM »
FYI - due to COVID, the auto stores aren't doing the check engine light reading right now. OReilly, AutoZone, and whatever the 3rd one is. (yeah, unhelpful. sorry) Found that out the hard way.

geekette

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Re: Random dash lights and the original 11 year old battery
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2020, 06:24:03 PM »
Tire pressure sensor units have their own batteries that don't last forever, usually around 10 years. That particular light could be related to failing TPMS sensors given the timeframe.

My 2010 Civic just began throwing a TPMS alert despite the tires not actually being low. I figure the sensors are going bad (and don't plan to replace them).

The individual readings seem fine, but they could be on their way out.  I'm not planning to replace them.  DH may have a different idea.

I checked Costo; they want $100, but don't install (not a big deal).  I called the place we usually take the car and they said someone would email me a quote.  They'll check the battery and charging system for $30.  I'm pretty sure their battery cost will be on the high side.

Daley

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Re: Random dash lights and the original 11 year old battery
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2020, 08:27:15 PM »
I checked Costo; they want $100, but don't install (not a big deal).  I called the place we usually take the car and they said someone would email me a quote.  They'll check the battery and charging system for $30.  I'm pretty sure their battery cost will be on the high side.

I looked up battery prices at O'Reilly, Napa, Advance, and AutoZone, and the only options available at all four of the chains average $140 for an 18 to 24 month warranty, to $160 for a three year warranty. That'll give you a pretty good idea what kind of quote to expect from your mechanic. Walmart has a three year warranty battery for $130, but you'll still have to install yourself currently, they're still cheap Exide batteries like nearly everyone else has now, and their batteries will likely be several months older than anyone else's at this point given all their auto care centers are closed due to the 'rona.

I'm not a huge fan of Interstate batteries anymore, but three year's about the best battery warranty you can get anymore, they're still higher quality than the Exide batteries most everyone else uses for house brand, and Costco's price, exchange policy, and battery turnover (for freshness) can't be beat. Just be sure to try and grab one with the newest manufacture date sticker available there. So, congrats! Your Costco membership will basically pay for itself the entire year just in savings off of one car battery. :)

Be sure to grab a cheap felt disk and dielectric grease kit down at an auto parts store for $3 before you install to keep corrosion to a minimum long term. It fortunately doesn't look like there's any kooky computer reset steps on the HHR that you have to do post replacement to reset anything, so should be real easy.

geekette

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Re: Random dash lights and the original 11 year old battery
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2020, 08:57:50 AM »
I got the Costco battery and DH installed it instead of paying almost double at the shop.

I also plugged in an OBD device and the code was P0172 (too rich). That seems to jibe with the ~20% lower mileage on the last tank. But the code could mean...a lot of things. The light is out for now, but when it comes back on, itíll go to the shop. Too many possibilities, and itís our only car.

I donít know why the tire pressure light was on (now out). There was no persistent code, and all the tires read normal on the inside read outs and with a gauge.

Daley

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Re: Random dash lights and the original 11 year old battery
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2020, 07:21:41 PM »
I also plugged in an OBD device and the code was P0172 (too rich). That seems to jibe with the ~20% lower mileage on the last tank. But the code could mean...a lot of things. The light is out for now, but when it comes back on, itíll go to the shop. Too many possibilities, and itís our only car.

How many miles are on the thing, and when was the last time you had the spark plugs replaced? It looks like the average replacement cycle is 100k mile with iridium plugs, but they could have been fouled due to a bad tank of gas or a lot of short city trips where the engine doesn't really heat up well, or you have a dirty MAF air intake sensor from a greasy or clogged air filter, or a loose vacuum hose, or the top O2 sensor (which is about as easy to replace normally, depending on location, as a spark plug)... the point is, it could be something simpler than you'd expect.

geekette

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Re: Random dash lights and the original 11 year old battery
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2020, 08:18:56 PM »
Like I said - there are too many things it could be ;-).

Under 80k miles, and we had a hard enough time getting the air filter off to change it a while ago, and the O2 sensor is behind that.

Weíll just support the local economy this time.

geekette

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Re: Random dash lights and the original 11 year old battery
« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2020, 11:03:51 AM »
The check engine light went out Friday night, but I took it in anyway, since it had been on/off/on/off.  They cleared the code, drove it around, the check engine light didn't come back on, so they declared it fixed.  Yeah, thanks.  $137 bucks for nothing.

The other thing they said was that there was a high alcohol reading of 42%. It's a "flexfuel" engine, and should be able to take E85, and almost precisely a year ago we put in one tank as an experiment (lowered the mpg, but otherwise the same). Regardless, the bubbly non-tech on the phone recommended I run a couple tanks of "good" 93 octane gas (don't they raise the octane by adding ethanol?) 

We've gone to this shop for decades and had no problems, but this doesn't make me want to return.


Car Jack

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Re: Random dash lights and the original 11 year old battery
« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2020, 11:25:04 AM »
A few things:  I would expect those TPMS sensor batteries to be near dead by now.  Feel free to put some electrical tape over that light.  I don't really care about the lights and have lots of wheels around with snows that have no sensors.  I'm not paying $100 extra for the stupid things.

For the check engine light: typically, a solid light means that the code occurred and isn't going on right now.  A blinking light means it's going on right now.  Have a real mechanic diagnose it.

Your battery lasted an exceptionally long time.  But if you never had trouble starting the car, there's no reason to replace it.