Automotive

Car Batteries - FAQ, General Information, Tips & Tricks

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Deal Guru
Feb 13, 2012
11533 posts
2458 upvotes
VANCOUVER
craftsman wrote:
Dec 24th, 2018 1:37 pm
Lead acid batteries suffer from a self-discharge rate of approx 10% per month - so 10% of it's state of charge 'disappears' every month... 100% -> 90% -> 81% -> 73% -> 65% -> 59% -> 53% -> 48% .... If you start off with a new fully charged battery (starting at 100%), it will take approx 7 months of sitting there to get under 50%. Most articles I've read state that the soft 'temporary' sulphation becomes much harder (with larger crystals making it hard to reverse) at the 6-month time frame (so that sulphation that formed when the battery went from 100% -> 90% starts to harden). So, in theory, if we are just talking about the battery with it being connected to the car, you should aim to charge the battery at least every 5 months (with a bit of buffer just in case those articles were 'off'). However, if you put that battery into use in a modern vehicle which have all sorts of power drains even when the ignition is off, you are likely to see an accelerated discharge (let's say 15% so an extra 5% over the self-discharge), you will see a larger drop and thus a shorter time frame - ie 100% -> 85% -> 72% -> 62% -> 53% -> 45%... or about 5 months before it goes under 50%. So, charging the battery every 3 months if the car isn't driven may be a good rule of thumb.

As for your TL, you have to remember it depends on the condition of the battery to start off with and the state of charge... Let's say that you had a new battery but it was only charged to 80% (which is normal (maybe a bit optimistic) in traditional cars without an smart/eco charging system) and we increase the drain to 20% for the Nav unit, then we would be looking at 80% -> 64% -> 51% -> 40%... so 3 months before the battery was below 50% with a good chance that it was below 40%. Now if that battery was older and hasn't been really maintained, I can see how the state of charge would have started at 65% with a higher self-discharge rate which means that the battery may have been low on charge within a month.
Thanks for the information...much appreciated! Yes, you're right about the TL. Its battery wasn't completely healthy to begin with. I think the car was already about 7 - 8 years old at the time, albeit with low mileage. But at least I guess I don't need to worry about the Bimmer sitting for 2-3 weeks at a stretch.
Member
User avatar
Jul 25, 2015
225 posts
71 upvotes
Burnaby, BC
I have a Mazda3 2006 and the battery is still good. It has the original Panasonic battery and it is almost 13 year old. I cant believe it lasted this long. I have seen a bit of corrosion showing up lately but for its age I think it's a record. Since I have never opened it I was wondering if I could fill it up with fluid or not?
[OP]
Deal Guru
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Dec 23, 2003
12638 posts
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Toronto
Piklishi wrote:
Dec 28th, 2018 1:52 am
I have a Mazda3 2006 and the battery is still good. It has the original Panasonic battery and it is almost 13 year old. I cant believe it lasted this long. I have seen a bit of corrosion showing up lately but for its age I think it's a record. Since I have never opened it I was wondering if I could fill it up with fluid or not?
You had a good run with that battery. I would suggest getting it replaced and thoroughly clean the cables. It might be a good idea to get the alternator checked. Partsource can do a FREE battery test as well as the alternator voltage test. If you hear any squealing, this could be a sign that the serpentine belt may need replacement. Things to keep in mind on a 12 year old car.

One thing to consider is that old batteries can cause strain on other components. A good battery will give you sure starts this winter. Please read my post for battery suggestions and tips.
Deal Fanatic
Jan 27, 2006
9582 posts
3540 upvotes
Vancouver, BC
Piklishi wrote:
Dec 28th, 2018 1:52 am
I have a Mazda3 2006 and the battery is still good. It has the original Panasonic battery and it is almost 13 year old. I cant believe it lasted this long. I have seen a bit of corrosion showing up lately but for its age I think it's a record. Since I have never opened it I was wondering if I could fill it up with fluid or not?
You can't tell the condition of the battery unless you test it and I wouldn't test until you do some preventative maintenance on the battery first - ie clean terminals, check fluid levels, charge battery. And I would never replace a battery before testing it.

If it's the standard Panasonic design, you should see 6 round valve covers on the top of the battery - they unscrew. But before unscrewing them, clean the top of the battery off so that nothing will fall into the cells of the battery when you remove the valve covers. At that length of are, generally, the fluid levels will be low. Panasonics also have a translucent shell which under the right condition, you can see the fluid levels of each cell which should fall between the Low and Full marks.
[OP]
Deal Guru
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Dec 23, 2003
12638 posts
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Toronto
craftsman wrote:
Dec 28th, 2018 6:10 pm
You can't tell the condition of the battery unless you test it and I wouldn't test until you do some preventative maintenance on the battery first - ie clean terminals, check fluid levels, charge battery. And I would never replace a battery before testing it.

If it's the standard Panasonic design, you should see 6 round valve covers on the top of the battery - they unscrew. But before unscrewing them, clean the top of the battery off so that nothing will fall into the cells of the battery when you remove the valve covers. At that length of are, generally, the fluid levels will be low. Panasonics also have a translucent shell which under the right condition, you can see the fluid levels of each cell which should fall between the Low and Full marks.
Normally, I agree that this is the correct way to test the battery. That being said, given the fact that the battery it is 13 years old, it seems like a waste of time to perform any effort on the battery to clean, top up, and fully charge it. The end result will be the same thing that the tester will say: "Replace Battery". A 13-year-old battery won't be providing much confidence in true Canadian winters. I would rather spend the time on cleaning the connectors, battery tray, and fully charging the new battery.
Deal Fanatic
Jan 27, 2006
9582 posts
3540 upvotes
Vancouver, BC
hightech wrote:
Dec 28th, 2018 6:47 pm
Normally, I agree that this is the correct way to test the battery. That being said, given the fact that the battery it is 13 years old, it seems like a waste of time to perform any effort on the battery to clean, top up, and fully charge it. The end result will be the same thing that the tester will say: "Replace Battery". A 13-year-old battery won't be providing much confidence in true Canadian winters. I would rather spend the time on cleaning the connectors, battery tray, and fully charging the new battery.
The difference is that the battery is in Burnaby, BC so it's not subjected to many of the true Canadian Winters. Heck, if the OP lives in a condo tower, they might have a heated garage....

Age does not necessarily kill batteries - if that wasn't true the OP's battery would have been dead and gone 8+ years ago according to some on this forum... poor maintenance and hard conditions do.
Deal Expert
Mar 23, 2004
23492 posts
3798 upvotes
First off CT doesn't make batteries, they are OEM'd by someone. The batteries you're looking at were previously re-branded Exide Edge batteries but CT changed their OEM at some point within the last few years. They're now made by Deka and are rebranded Intimidators. I had one of the Edge rebrands and it actually died before the 5yr replacement...well it got pretty darn weak in the 4th-5th year anyway. On the last day of the warranty I took it in and it failed the load test so I got one of the new Deka-made ones. Have only had for about 8 months now so can't say too much about the longevity. I have no warranty on this one though, since there was no remaining warranty on the previous one. Earlier, CT employees would sometimes make the mistake of giving you a new warranty on a replacement battery but it seems they have fixed that in their system. That said the 5yr replacement is still better than most other batteries out there (note there is no pro-rated portion on these just 5yr straight warranty).

TBH I haven't been that impressed with AGM batteries overall. I've had a Optima YT, and Optima RT, and that Exide Edge, and now this Intimidator. All of these are North American made, BTW. The YT was from back in the early 2000s and it died after just 4-5 years as well--not much better than a regular battery. The Edge was explained above and the Intimidator we'll have to wait and see. My cousin had a few (!) of the rebranded Exide Orbitals from CT (they used to have those as well) and what I mean by "few" is that two failed and he got new ones under warranty (as mentioned the CT ppl goofed and gave him new/full warranties each time). However personally I suspect his alternator was overcharging the batteries but he got rid of that car so no telling what happened to the 3rd battery.

The only one I've had really good results with was the RT. I purchased that battery in like 2004...the thing is still going! In fact last year when I load tested it against the Edge, the RT actually beat the Edge despite having a lower CCA rating to begin with! It had a Walmart-exclusive warranty at the time of 3yr/10yr but it well passed even the 10 year pro-rated portion. Battery still holds a charge, passes load test (not as good as new but still good), and cranks strong. After nearly 15 years I'd say it doesn't really owe me anything anymore.

That doesn't mean I recommend buying an RT today though. A couple of reasons. One I'm not sure of the quality of Optimas anymore. I believe they are no longer made in USA (someone correct me if I'm mistaken). Two, the warranty is just not there--that 3yr/10yr I got on mine way back when was a Walmart Canada exclusive warranty, they don't come with that any longer and I think they are just 3yr replacement now. Finally, the prices on Optimas are now insane! In 2004 I paid like $169 for that 75/35 Red Top. Today I think that same battery sells for nearly $300 CAD! Definitely not worth it at that price, IMO.

The CT AGMs (rebranded Intimidators as stated) are good on paper at least. AGM with good CCA/RC #s and AGM is supposed to be longer life. They are unfortunately a bit heavy though (TBH I'm surprised no one has commercialised LiFePO4 for cars yet, but that's another story). The 5yr replacement warranty on the CT AGMs is re-assuring as well. The [new] one I have has been good so far but I haven't had it that long to say how it will really do over the long term. It's possible the Edge I had before it was just a dud as I've read a lot of reviews saying they are great; now that they've switched OEMs I won't be sure but I am at least optimistic about the new one. As said, on paper these things are supposed to be good. I'd go for it if it's on sale.
Deal Addict
Apr 22, 2013
1727 posts
887 upvotes
Markham
ES_Revenge wrote:
Dec 29th, 2018 12:06 pm
That doesn't mean I recommend buying an RT today though. A couple of reasons. One I'm not sure of the quality of Optimas anymore. I believe they are no longer made in USA (someone correct me if I'm mistaken). Two, the warranty is just not there--that 3yr/10yr I got on mine way back when was a Walmart Canada exclusive warranty, they don't come with that any longer and I think they are just 3yr replacement now. Finally, the prices on Optimas are now insane! In 2004 I paid like $169 for that 75/35 Red Top. Today I think that same battery sells for nearly $300 CAD! Definitely not worth it at that price, IMO.
Since Optima batteries was bought out by Johnson Controls there have been many on forums claiming their quality is no longer the way they used to be. One of the notable changes was the battery plant now being relocated to Mexico, so yes no more US made Optima batteries. Optima themselves claim the battery is better than ever, of course. Best consensus I see online is they're nothing special to be worth a premium over other AGM batteries. The price increase and perceived decrease in quality is likely where much of the problems with the brand now comes from.
Deal Addict
Feb 24, 2007
3804 posts
723 upvotes
Had two cars. One with CT AGM battery replaced. A week later I installed an AGM battery on another car from AGM Auto Battery. Parked in the same garage. Both are brand new batteries. But every morning my CT battery takes a little more effort to start as I can feel and hear from the sound. The other one. Boom just start right away. I don't know if it has something to do with the quality. But I heard there's a hard time to get the battery warranty service from CT and it usually breaks down around 5 years or so even AGM battery is about to last longer.

The battery I got from AGM Auto Battery costs a little more but competitive. Worth it with free shipping and quality.
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[OP]
Deal Guru
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Dec 23, 2003
12638 posts
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Toronto
I have owned several batteries over the years. Had a red top Optima in my 2002 Camry LE V6 and lasted around 5 years. I have used the typical wet cell batteries and they also last the same period. I find that the AGM batteries don't really provide me any more longevity but can cost much more.

AGM batteries are typically marketed for cars with stop/start systems, and those with a high level of onboard electronics. The funny thing is that many of these vehicles are sold with a wet cell battery. Some vehicles actually come with AGM batteries (i.e. Toyota Prius, Several Mercedes Benz models, etc.) When shopping for a replacement battery, my suggestions are as follows:

- Get a battery from a decent company (i.e. East Penn)
- If your vehicle comes with an AGM type battery, it is important to stick with this as the wet cell type may not be compatible or recommended for your vehicle.
- Look for the max CCA and Reserve Capacity you can get or afford
- Make sure that your battery cables are clean, the serpentine belt in your car is not worn, the starter is in good condition, and the Alternator is putting out the correct voltage
- Check the water levels topped off if you don't have a maintenance free battery and only use distilled water.
- Keep the battery charged and invest in a battery charger. This keeps the battery from sulfating and you can get the most life from the battery.

Check out my Car Battery thread if you need any more info.
Last edited by hightech on Dec 30th, 2018 1:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Deal Fanatic
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Feb 11, 2007
8718 posts
7392 upvotes
Oakville
Avatar wrote:
Dec 30th, 2018 10:35 am
Had two cars. One with CT AGM battery replaced. A week later I installed an AGM battery on another car from AGM Auto Battery. Parked in the same garage. Both are brand new batteries. But every morning my CT battery takes a little more effort to start as I can feel and hear from the sound. The other one. Boom just start right away. I don't know if it has something to do with the quality. But I heard there's a hard time to get the battery warranty service from CT and it usually breaks down around 5 years or so even AGM battery is about to last longer.

The battery I got from AGM Auto Battery costs a little more but competitive. Worth it with free shipping and quality.
Not a good comparison unless your 2 cars are identical.

The main advantage of Optima spiral AGM was reduced weight for similar CCA, which was nice for autoX/track.
Now there are somewhat affordable lithium batteries with much lower weight, still pricy though.
[OP]
Deal Guru
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Dec 23, 2003
12638 posts
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Toronto
engineered wrote:
Dec 30th, 2018 12:48 pm
Not a good comparison unless your 2 cars are identical.

The main advantage of Optima spiral AGM was reduced weight for similar CCA, which was nice for autoX/track.
Now there are somewhat affordable lithium batteries with much lower weight, still pricy though.
Lithium batteries are not widely available and the quality can vary hugely between manufactures. For most vehicles that are not going off road, the wet cell or AGM battery is really all that is needed.

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