Author Topic: Replace car battery proactively?  (Read 12046 times)

lizzzi

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Replace car battery proactively?
« on: January 05, 2015, 11:51:39 AM »
So I have a 2012 Toyota Highlander (yeah, I know…but paid cash and had/have good reasons for needing that vehicle. No face punches please, and I can defend the purchase if anybody wants to know.) This SUV was purchased in October, 2011, so right now is going through its fourth winter. (11-12, 12-13, 13-14, and now 14-15.) It has the OEM battery in it, and I've had no problems. Mileage is 19,700, and vehicle has always been used in four-season climates, not in any hot weather places like Florida.  I always have the CD player or radio on, but turn it off, along with fan, etc, when I park the car. This winter I am making almost monthly trips to upstate NY, Vermont, and Quebec, and don't want to get stuck with a dead battery, as it would be difficult to be stranded somewhere, especially in a French-speaking area. My plan is to get the battery tested, and definitely buy a new one if the load tester is not solidly in the green. But do you think I should just buy a new, good quality battery regardless? Online research has not given me a definitive answer.

CommonCents

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2015, 11:54:06 AM »
You could also get a portable battery.  DH wants to do this, to keep it in the house in case the car doesn't start before work someday.

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2015, 12:02:49 PM »
A host of problems can go wrong with a vehicle, not just the battery. Those issues are best mitigated with routine maintenance. Unless you are a motorhead, I'd take the vehicle to Jiffy Lube (or someplace comparable; I'm not shilling for Jiffy Lube here, they are just who I happen to use -- and they are in fact wonderful). They'll check everything out -- hoses, battery, fluids, brakes.

A MY2012 vehicle with OEM battery shouldn't need a new battery on your facts. Caveat: batteries can go dead at any time and for any reason. Get a new battery if you need it for peace of mind.

I drive a MY2001 Toyota with 160,000 miles. I've only had to change the battery once in 14 years.

Le Barbu

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2015, 12:12:53 PM »
So I have a 2012 Toyota Highlander (yeah, I know…but paid cash and had/have good reasons for needing that vehicle. No face punches please, and I can defend the purchase if anybody wants to know.) This SUV was purchased in October, 2011, so right now is going through its fourth winter. (11-12, 12-13, 13-14, and now 14-15.) It has the OEM battery in it, and I've had no problems. Mileage is 19,700, and vehicle has always been used in four-season climates, not in any hot weather places like Florida.  I always have the CD player or radio on, but turn it off, along with fan, etc, when I park the car. This winter I am making almost monthly trips to upstate NY, Vermont, and Quebec, and don't want to get stuck with a dead battery, as it would be difficult to be stranded somewhere, especially in a French-speaking area. My plan is to get the battery tested, and definitely buy a new one if the load tester is not solidly in the green. But do you think I should just buy a new, good quality battery regardless? Online research has not given me a definitive answer.

French poeple are friendly and will help you with any issue, Mustachian or not!

With the size of car you got, I would carry a portable battery unit. Even with a new battery, you can drain it with a light that stay open overnight as an example. Average battery lifetime is 5 years but range from 2-10 ! A test can tell if its a luxury or if you are running on the edge.

Goldielocks

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2015, 12:16:57 PM »
Just get a portable charger. Battery will let you know when it is starting to die with the light in your dash or trouble starting on very cold mornings.  It really is not a big deal.

Batteries die first after hours of very cold overnight temps, which means you are not stranded, but at a hotel, home , etc.   all you need is a jump or that AMA truck will change battery for you instead.


LadyStache

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2015, 12:23:05 PM »
I think my car batteries usually last about 4-5 years. I would probably wait until the fall.

Also, the battery tests aren't super accurate. I had mine tested once during a routine oil change and they recommended replacement, but I decided to wait an extra year. I still ended up replacing it before it died.

rocksinmyhead

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2015, 12:26:58 PM »
seconding (thirding?) the portable charger idea. my boyfriend has one of those, it's nice for peace of mind :)

LadyStache

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2015, 12:28:15 PM »
Batteries die first after hours of very cold overnight temps, which means you are not stranded, but at a hotel, home , etc.   all you need is a jump or that AMA truck will change battery for you instead.

Not always the case. With my first car, I found out the battery had died after I stopped at a gas station to fill up my tank. It was early afternoon on a cold day and the car had been running for about 20 minutes before I turned off the engine to fill up.

It's definitely good to be proactive, but I think replacing it this early might be overly cautious.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2015, 12:47:46 PM »
Proactive:  Jumper cables, phone number of your insurance provider's roadside assistance phone number.

What's the worst that could happen?   You ask someone for a "jump", then buy a new battery.

Jack

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2015, 12:48:40 PM »
Really? Of all the things you could possibly worry about, you pick this? You must live a charmed life, having checked all the bigger risks off your list.

Just get yourself a set of jumper cables and be done with it.

(You could also consider getting a roadside assistance plan, since it covers breakdowns for any other reason too, but IMO the car would need to be something closer to a 2002, not a 2012, for it to be worth it.)

ketchup

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2015, 12:49:38 PM »
Based solely on age and climate, I'd say you're probably fine.

I thought of something similar.  I bought my (1999) car last spring, and the battery is old enough that I can't read the date on it which made me a little nervous.  However, this morning it started right up like it was nothing in -3F cold after sitting for a few weeks, so I'm going to assume it's at least fine until next winter.

I keep jumper cables in the back all year "just in case."  Every time I've had to jump a car, it's been because I did something stupid, never the car's fault.

Greg

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2015, 01:24:44 PM »
It has the OEM battery in it, and I've had no problems.

Then you're fine.  OEM batteries are often the best you can get.  One in my wife's Subaru lasted 10 years.  Batteries are easy to come by, easy to change, if you ever need to. 

GetItRight

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2015, 01:37:32 PM »
About 6-7 years is typical battery life. Sometimes manufacturers put real cheap low quality batteries in the cars to save money because even a cheap battery should outlast the typical 3 year warranty. I wouldn't spend money on a replacement and toss a perfectly good working battery, but if you don't have them get a good thick set of jumper cables and keep in the car. It's a minor inconvenience to ask for a jump and go right to a parts store when it dies, potentially in another 3-4 years. In my experience new cars tend to start fine then just not start, while older cars without all the fancy electronics will usually crank noticeably slower when it's getting weak (or on very cold mornings) giving you plenty of warning.

Guses

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2015, 02:04:26 PM »
Manual or automatic transmission?

You could always start it with the engine compression if the former.

A car is surprinsingly easy to push on level ground.

ketchup

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2015, 02:13:09 PM »
Manual or automatic transmission?

You could always start it with the engine compression if the former.

A car is surprinsingly easy to push on level ground.
This!  My battery was dead in a grocery store parking lot one time, and two dudes walking past pushed it fast enough to let me start it, stick my hand out the window excitedly with a thumbs-up, and drive off.

takeahike

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2015, 02:21:18 PM »
I've lived in Canada for over a decade and haven't had my car die on me yet. I even worked rural for awhile, parked car outside and no issues.  Those rare days that it gets -30 or -40 might bring some issues if the car sits for very long. I keep cables in my trunk and have AMA (AAA) for emergencies. My car doesn't have a plug-in since it was purchased in the lower 48. I had an old old battery too.. kept it too long. It ended up dying in the summer of all times lol.

There is no shortage of Canadians to lend a helping hand either. For extra peace of mind bring along a battery charger. We don't own one.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2015, 02:25:50 PM by takeahike »

lizzzi

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #16 on: January 05, 2015, 06:38:22 PM »
Thanks for all the advice. It is an automatic transmission, so I can't do that "pushing it down the road to get it started" thing. I will definitely pick up some new jumper cables…I didn't realize people were still using them. And will investigate battery chargers. I am a member of AAA.

Jack in Atlanta, Georgia: Perhaps you have not spent much time driving in cold climates in the winter. I'm not worried, exactly…just like to be prepared.

Le Barbu in Levis: Merci, je suis une étudiante de français, mais je ne parle pas beaucoup.

gimp

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #17 on: January 05, 2015, 09:10:40 PM »
Of course people use jumper cables!



(Step 4: engine block: this is optional; you can connect it to the negative terminal. In theory, this prevents a minuscule chance of a spark igniting hydrogen buildup from the battery. In practice... not a thing that really happens anymore, if it ever did.)

Proactively changing the battery makes sense if you have the feeling it's dying. Otherwise, nah, unless you do road trips that put you outside of cell service, population, and into bear territory. (In other words, upper Canada, Alaska, maybe the northern-most reaches of ND, the UP in MI, that sort of thing.)

Also don't bother going into get your battery checked - this may be different where you live, but near me, a battery test costs about as much as a brand new battery with installation. (However, if you already own a multimeter, you can easily test it yourself. Batteries, when fully charged, tell you a lot by their voltage. A car's 12V nominal battery often runs as high as 14V; if it's sitting under 12 fully charged, in my car at least, I'd replace it.)

Le Barbu

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #18 on: January 06, 2015, 04:55:21 AM »
Thanks for all the advice. It is an automatic transmission, so I can't do that "pushing it down the road to get it started" thing. I will definitely pick up some new jumper cables…I didn't realize people were still using them. And will investigate battery chargers. I am a member of AAA.

Jack in Atlanta, Georgia: Perhaps you have not spent much time driving in cold climates in the winter. I'm not worried, exactly…just like to be prepared.

Le Barbu in Levis: Merci, je suis une étudiante de français, mais je ne parle pas beaucoup.

You don't have to talk much

Peolple willing to help with mechanical issue care about solving the problem, not the conversation

French-Canadian folks use 90% english when it comes to cars and hardly know the french translation

So, "my car needs a boost" is enough ;)

lizzzi

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #19 on: January 06, 2015, 06:33:31 AM »
Gimp: I've used jumper cables in the past, and always used to have them in my cars. For some reason, I thought they were not used much anymore…possibility of damaging the "good" battery, or some such thing? Going up the Northway in winter, through Adirondack State Park , puts you through miles and miles of nothing…or at least…not much. Pine trees and bears. I remember some elderly couple ran their car off the road up there, and they didn't find them until spring when the snow melted. Dead as doornails, of course.

Le Barbu: Merci encore. Je sais seulement que je dois dire "mon char", et pas "ma voiture." Rire, rire, rire.

Bob W

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #20 on: January 06, 2015, 08:36:14 AM »
I always carry jumpers regardless of battery age.  Can't imagine replacing early.

Jack

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #21 on: January 06, 2015, 09:16:10 AM »
Jack in Atlanta, Georgia: Perhaps you have not spent much time driving in cold climates in the winter. I'm not worried, exactly…just like to be prepared.

IMO, jumper cables would be sufficient preparation even in the Frozen North. Well, other than blankets, of course.

In fact, if you went so far as to get one of those portable batteries, I'd be more worried about it giving you a false sense of security rather than actually helping in an emergency. Just like a normal car battery, they need to be recharged regularly, but because they're portable that's less likely to happen. Either you'd leave it in the car and forget to charge it, or you'd keep it plugged in to charge but then forget to take it with you.

Gimp: I've used jumper cables in the past, and always used to have them in my cars. For some reason, I thought they were not used much anymore…possibility of damaging the "good" battery, or some such thing?

Cars with normal 12v electrical systems should have no trouble with jumper cables, I think.

Hybrids might be a different story (but then again, with a hybrid the same kind of issue might not even apply).

Going up the Northway in winter, through Adirondack State Park , puts you through miles and miles of nothing…or at least…not much. Pine trees and bears. I remember some elderly couple ran their car off the road up there, and they didn't find them until spring when the snow melted. Dead as doornails, of course.

The key phrase there is "ran their car off the road" -- if their problem were merely a dead battery then they would have still been on the road and would have been found and helped in a reasonable amount of time.

acroy

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #22 on: January 06, 2015, 09:36:36 AM »
Jumper cables (and a can of fix a flat. and a flashlight. and a first aid kit. and an accident form. Be prepared)

I replace the battery every 5yrs. Cheap insurance. They are a disposable maintenance item. I'd rather replace the battery on my terms, at my leisure, than stuck on the road somewhere at an inconvenient time.

ketchup

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #23 on: January 06, 2015, 09:59:53 AM »
Gimp: I've used jumper cables in the past, and always used to have them in my cars. For some reason, I thought they were not used much anymore…possibility of damaging the "good" battery, or some such thing?

Cars with normal 12v electrical systems should have no trouble with jumper cables, I think.

Hybrids might be a different story (but then again, with a hybrid the same kind of issue might not even apply).
My girlfriend's sister has a 2013 PriusC and I think she said it either can't be jumped, or it can't jump another car.  Either way that's pretty obnoxious and inconvenient.  So definitely a potential issue with hybrids.

lizzzi

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #24 on: January 06, 2015, 11:47:07 AM »
I'm going to pick up a set of long jumper cables (20 feet should do it, no matter how I'm parked), and not get the battery charger, for the same reasons Jack pointed out. (Yes, Jack, I do realize that getting run off the road into a ravine and getting buried under a blizzard is not the same issue as being stuck on the shoulder…lol. )

I used to have to drive in the winter in South Dakota, and I agree with Acroy that being prepared is important. Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

My vehicle is not a hybrid.

greaper007

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #25 on: January 06, 2015, 11:52:20 AM »
Jumper cables (and a can of fix a flat. and a flashlight. and a first aid kit. and an accident form. Be prepared)

I replace the battery every 5yrs. Cheap insurance. They are a disposable maintenance item. I'd rather replace the battery on my terms, at my leisure, than stuck on the road somewhere at an inconvenient time.

I've talked to several techs, and batteries have really gone down hill in the last 8 years or so.   Or perhaps car's electronics are getting thirstier, I'm not sure.   Either way, 4-5 years seems to be the lifespan of a battery now.   That's probably not a bad idea.

In my experience though, all my batteries have gradually gotten bad.    They won't turn over on a cold morning, car doesn't restart after a jump etc.   I just replace as needed, but then again I don't drive long distances anymore.   YMMV

RapmasterD

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #26 on: January 06, 2015, 11:56:49 AM »
I can't remember the last time I had a battery that made it for even four years.

I don't like buying shitty and overpriced batteries off the AAA dude.

I am proactively replacing every three years.

greaper007

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #27 on: January 06, 2015, 12:14:00 PM »
I can't remember the last time I had a battery that made it for even four years.

I don't like buying shitty and overpriced batteries off the AAA dude.

I am proactively replacing every three years.

Yeah, or a battery that cost less than $100 dollars.   

Syonyk

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #28 on: January 06, 2015, 12:26:04 PM »
You don't have to talk much

Peolple willing to help with mechanical issue care about solving the problem, not the conversation

"Hood up, standing around with jumper cables in hand" should be sufficient, anywhere, to get yourself a jump start.  It's a pretty universal signal, even if you share no language.

And if you don't drive the vehicle much, it might be worth getting a battery tender.  The worst thing for a lead acid battery's lifespan is to be repeatedly deeply drained.  Car starting batteries are designed to provide 100s of amps for a few seconds, then be charged again.

gimp

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #29 on: January 06, 2015, 04:15:57 PM »
My emergency kit is... jack and spare and jackstands; basic AAA emergency bag (hazard triangles, jumper cables, blah blah), fix a flat, tire iron, mylar blanket, flares, glowsticks, emergency candle, flashlights and headlamp, compass, tire gauges, hand warmers, knife, lighter, rope, air pump, spare cell phone battery. When I travel far, a can or two of gas (5 or 10 gal total) and a sleeping bag (0F). Shit's cash, yo. But necessary when sometimes I don't see a single car in either direction for 300 miles.

Modern cars tend to use a lot more electronics without much better batteries. They also often cheap out on the factory alternators; once you turn on the rear defogger/deicer, and maybe plug some stuff into your outlets...

m8547

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #30 on: January 06, 2015, 07:50:59 PM »
Don't replace it. Some Toyota OEM batteries are known to last incredibly long. Some have been known to last 10 years or more:
http://www.toyota-4runner.org/4th-gen-t4rs/70376-2004-4runner-still-oem-panasonic-battery.html
It's better than anything you can buy aftermarket. Not all vehicles come with the same batteries, though, so your model might have a different one.

I was going to buy a jumpstart pack, but I learned that they have little sealed lead acid batteries in them. I already have one of those batteries, so I threw it in the trunk to use with jumper cables. It's hard to believe it will start the car, but it's worth a try.

mayanktanwar

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #31 on: October 07, 2015, 11:06:04 PM »
Hey lizzzi, After 3-4 years mostly vehicles create problems like battery failure, or turn off and not taking self to starts. You are right when occured problem like that it's time to change the battery and get new one. Not to worry more search in Google city wise or country name surely you will find best online option to get. I am from India and here BatteryBhai.com delivered batteries in all cities at affordable prices with genuine products.

Matt in Akron

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #32 on: October 08, 2015, 07:16:30 AM »
Based on my experience, modern automotive batteries last about 6yrs in the conditions you described.  Believe it or not, extreme heat is actually far worse for a battery than extremely cold conditions.

If I were you, I'd wait another year until I replaced proactively.  I'd also make sure to have jumper cables or a self-contained battery jumper (these are great) in the vehicle just in case.

mschaus

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #33 on: October 08, 2015, 07:33:20 AM »
I'm not sure why people think it's crazy to be proactive here. I replace batteries as they approach their 5-6th Chicago winter. Maybe I'm not getting 100% use out of the battery but the alternative is to be guaranteed to have it not start some cold morning when I'm trying to get to work.

Maybe if it weren't for the tyranny of a 9-5 I'd just hasslehoff it. Of course in that case I'd prefer to own zero cars.

Guses

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #34 on: October 08, 2015, 08:53:13 AM »
Different idea:

Instead of replacing the peanut butter jar pre-emptively with an unknown quantity of peanut butter still in the jar, would it make sense to buy a self boosting unit or a backup battery with tools to replace it and leave that in the trunk?

That way, you always have a backup but you don't keep replacing the battery until it is done. Over the life of a car, you could save 3-4+ batteries depending how frequently you replace them.

I have had 6-8 year old cars where the original battery was never replaced. And it gets MIGHTY cold around 'ere.

Le Barbu

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #35 on: October 08, 2015, 09:02:13 AM »
Some places (garage or battery dealers) can test your battery for free. Then, you know if it's still reliable or not. When the best is out of it, trying to extend few months (maybe 1 year) os worthless. If you keep the car for 20-25 years and replace the battery 1 year "to early" every time, it will take 1 more battery...

TheThirstyStag

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #36 on: October 08, 2015, 10:21:02 AM »
I've had great luck with stock batteries, especially on my Fords.  My stock motor craft battery lasted 9 years.  Replacements I usually expect 5 years out of.

My SO's 2006 model car is still on its factory battery.  This battery lives in the trunk and not under the hood, so perhaps that affects longevity. 

Anything further than 5 years, I agree it's borrowed time.  I don't replace proactively though.  I like to see some sign of imminent failure.  To hedge against getting stuck, I always keep a charged self-jumper in my SO's trunk, and a good set of jumper cables in my own. 

Jack

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #37 on: October 08, 2015, 11:30:51 AM »
Different idea:

Instead of replacing the peanut butter jar pre-emptively with an unknown quantity of peanut butter still in the jar, would it make sense to buy a self boosting unit or a backup battery with tools to replace it and leave that in the trunk?

I addressed that upthread:

In fact, if you went so far as to get one of those portable batteries, I'd be more worried about it giving you a false sense of security rather than actually helping in an emergency. Just like a normal car battery, they need to be recharged regularly, but because they're portable that's less likely to happen. Either you'd leave it in the car and forget to charge it, or you'd keep it plugged in to charge but then forget to take it with you.

Even a full-blown replacement car battery would have the same issues: it would self-discharge, so it might not work when you need it, and (since it's exposed to the same climate conditions as the battery being used) it would be slowly wearing out even just sitting in the trunk.

Le Barbu

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Re: Replace car battery proactively?
« Reply #38 on: October 08, 2015, 02:51:35 PM »
Being mustachian, there is a lot more pro-active maintenance I do on my car, battery is just one item on the list. I dont drive much so, fluids changes are done based on duration, not km (brake fluid, coolant). Pro-active maintenance or repairs also give me the chance to DImyself, buy pieces/stuff needed when it's on sale and do the job on my schedual. When you wait to long, it's not always possible.

When you buy 3-5 years old cars @ 50-100km and aim to keep them for another 10-20 years and over 250km, it just make sense to be a bit ahead of troubles. Non-mustachians tend to replace their cars all the time because stupid reasons like worn whipper blades, expensive brake job, dirty carpets etc.

The point here is to avoid spoillage, not become world class cheapskate