Automotive

Problem with the battery on Nissan Altima?

  • Last Updated:
  • Mar 17th, 2017 11:01 pm
[OP]
Member
Jan 19, 2017
425 posts
120 upvotes

Problem with the battery on Nissan Altima?

Hi all,

I'd like to know if anyone has encountered this issue before or have heard of it before (and/or knows a solution). My sister has a very low mileage 2010 Nissan Altima that she bought used in 2011. It was always parked outside but has been working fine while she was in the US (in the midwest, where it gets very cold in the winter). She has since moved to Canada, and had to take it to a dealer to enable DRL on the car in order to be able to get it registered in Canada. Since moving to Canada, the car has been parked in an underground parking where it is never cold.

It's been about 2 years now that the car wouldn't start if it sits without being driven/started for extended periods of time (by extended, I mean 6 months, 3 months, and 3 weeks!). It barely cranks but doesn't start. I had to jump-start her car twice so she could take it to the dealer: first, they changed the car battery and the battery of the key fob; next, they just recharged the battery. The dealership says the (new) battery is fine and that she should always make sure that the car doesn't sit in the parking for extended periods of time. I find it absolutely absurd that parking your car for a month is considered "extended"!

I know that the underground parking's walls are washed with high-pressure water every couple of months. I noticed that every time my sister's car doesn't start, it is completely covered, bumper to bumper, with a thick layer of dust which came down with the water; my guess is that somehow water goes into some parts and causes a short circuit, OR there is a short circuit somewhere, OR something doesn't turn off, either of which would drain the batter.

I have searched online, and there are numerous reports of Altimas eating through batteries, but afaik, no one seems to have found a solution for this. Does any of you have dealt with this issue before? Any tips would be really appreciated.

Thank you!
18 replies
Temp. Banned
Jun 18, 2008
5095 posts
4638 upvotes
Montreal
Every car has some sort of parasitic drain when sitting, the more options and gizmos on the car the higher the drain. Don't expect a car to start after being parked for a month all the time. The battery may do it once or twice, but every discharge will result in sulfation and a much shorter battery life because of the nearly full discharge. The more you do this(not start for extended periods of time) the faster it will discharge the faster the battery will no longer be able to hold a charge the more often you will be replacing the battery. That car needs to either be started once/twice a week or you need to connect a 0.75amp battery tender ($40) to the battery full time to keep it healthy and topped up otherwise you will need jump starts and new batteries every 2-3 years. If it's going to be sitting for months, you can also just remove the negative battery terminal as well, still better off with a tender though. The washing of walls and dust have nothing to do with your battery issues.


http://www.batteryminders.com/avoid-battery-sulfation/
Member
Oct 25, 2015
232 posts
238 upvotes
Guelph, Ontario
Does the car have remote start or push start / keyless entry? generally these things are always "on" to receive a signal and can easily drain a battery over a period of time.
Deal Guru
User avatar
Mar 13, 2004
11349 posts
3095 upvotes
Toronto, Ontario
I agree, if the car sites for over 2-3 weeks then it would not surprise me if it does not start. This is why when I was out of town for 6 weeks, I took off the negative terminal on the battery. When I came back plugged it in and it was good to go.
0_o
<_<
>_>
[OP]
Member
Jan 19, 2017
425 posts
120 upvotes
yes, it has a key fob. it's strange though; it never used to do this until two years ago.
today, i started it with a battery booster and took it for a ride on the highway for an hour. it was fine after that. i'll be more consistent in starting it every week.
thanks everybody.
Deal Expert
Aug 2, 2001
16734 posts
6967 upvotes
Let's be honest, there is clearly a problem with your vehicle. It is not normal to have your vehicle unable to start for sitting a mere 3 weeks. Think of all the people that leave their cars at the airport while on vacation and start it with no problems. You likely have something that is causing a draw on your battery while the car is off.

The question is - is this worth fixing? Electrical problems can be expensive to track down, and your work arounds are going to be a lot cheaper (unplugging the terminal when it is sitting for long periods or using a battery tender). This is what you have to decide - do you want to track down the parasitic draw or take the cheaper route and implement a work around?
Sr. Member
Aug 7, 2014
563 posts
235 upvotes
Suggestions:

1) Check your Cold Cranking Amp of the battery, the higher the better. A few yrs back, the Consumers Report recommended the Sears "Northern Gold" battery, or the Costco kirkland battery with high CCA.

2) Have you checked the alternator that charges the battery as the engine runs?

3) Which city your car is parked? In cold places like Edmonton, many cars have battery blankets and warmer.

4) If the car is parked for an extended time, and if the car can be parked close to a power outlet, buy a battery maintainer from cdn tire that keeps the battery fully charged all the time.
[OP]
Member
Jan 19, 2017
425 posts
120 upvotes
TrevorK wrote: Let's be honest, there is clearly a problem with your vehicle. It is not normal to have your vehicle unable to start for sitting a mere 3 weeks. Think of all the people that leave their cars at the airport while on vacation and start it with no problems. You likely have something that is causing a draw on your battery while the car is off.

The question is - is this worth fixing? Electrical problems can be expensive to track down, and your work arounds are going to be a lot cheaper (unplugging the terminal when it is sitting for long periods or using a battery tender). This is what you have to decide - do you want to track down the parasitic draw or take the cheaper route and implement a work around?
yes, exactly! that's my thought as well. it's not normal for the car's battery to die constantly after not being used for three weeks! the dealer has already checked the alternator (or so they say!) and has changed the battery 1.5 years ago. i don't want to spend more money on the car though; i'll try starting it more often, and i'll buy a battery booster in case it refuses to start again. that's going to be cheaper than taking it to the dealership every time.
psudolam wrote: Suggestions:

1) Check your Cold Cranking Amp of the battery, the higher the better. A few yrs back, the Consumers Report recommended the Sears "Northern Gold" battery, or the Costco kirkland battery with high CCA.

2) Have you checked the alternator that charges the battery as the engine runs?

3) Which city your car is parked? In cold places like Edmonton, many cars have battery blankets and warmer.

4) If the car is parked for an extended time, and if the car can be parked close to a power outlet, buy a battery maintainer from cdn tire that keeps the battery fully charged all the time.
the alternator is fine (according to the dealer). the car is parked in an underground garage, so the temperature is always above zero. unfortunately, it's not close to a power outlet.

thanks for the help guys :)
Newbie
Mar 8, 2017
7 posts
Mississauga, ON
Have you been experienced the problem since your last post, have you figured out the issue or are you still using a booster at times?
[OP]
Member
Jan 19, 2017
425 posts
120 upvotes
I haven't turned the car on this week. I'll check on it this coming weekend. I haven't found the cause of the problem though (there is something draining the battery, but I don't know what it is).
Sr. Member
Jan 22, 2015
662 posts
179 upvotes
How old is the battery? There should be a sticker somewhere on it with a month/year it was manufactured. If it's older than 3 years, just replace it. Could also be a parasitic draw but it's most likely an old battery. And sounds like this car does not get driven enough to fully recharge the battery. Typically you need at least 15- 20 minutes of driving to recharge a battery. More if it's really cold or it's been sitting for long periods of time. You mentioned that it has sat for 6 months, if you didn't at least disconnect the negative battery that will definitely drain the battery and cause damage since typical lead acid batteries do not like sitting in a discharged state!

Edit: Nvm missed the part that you already put in a new battery.

OP I had a similar problem with my car. in cold weather it would not start if it sat for 3 or more days and during the summer months it wouldn't start if it sat for 2 weeks or so. Ended up having a parasitic draw. Guess what it was?? A GPS tracker that the used car dealership installed! Apparently some places install these so they can easily repo a car. It was draining approximately 80mA. With it removed the battery draw with everything off went down to 15mA.
Deal Expert
User avatar
Jul 22, 2006
22095 posts
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darXider wrote: She has since moved to Canada, and had to take it to a dealer to enable DRL on the car in order to be able to get it registered in Canada. Since moving to Canada, the car has been parked in an underground parking where it is never cold.
How did the dealer get the DRL working? Properly with a module or hack and slash?

Module is usually ~$200 OEM + harness if needed... Installed inside the engine bay and looks like this
Image
[OP]
Member
Jan 19, 2017
425 posts
120 upvotes
rssdale wrote: How old is the battery? There should be a sticker somewhere on it with a month/year it was manufactured. If it's older than 3 years, just replace it. Could also be a parasitic draw but it's most likely an old battery. And sounds like this car does not get driven enough to fully recharge the battery. Typically you need at least 15- 20 minutes of driving to recharge a battery. More if it's really cold or it's been sitting for long periods of time. You mentioned that it has sat for 6 months, if you didn't at least disconnect the negative battery that will definitely drain the battery and cause damage since typical lead acid batteries do not like sitting in a discharged state!
the current battery is about 1.5 years old, if i am correct in my estimate of time. it was replaced the first time the car didn't start. the car has never been in the cold; it's always parked in an underground garage. the very last time it didn't start (two weeks ago), it had sat in the parking for only 3 weeks. i'll make sure to disconnect the battery. thank you.
rssdale wrote: Edit: Nvm missed the part that you already put in a new battery.

OP I had a similar problem with my car. in cold weather it would not start if it sat for 3 or more days and during the summer months it wouldn't start if it sat for 2 weeks or so. Ended up having a parasitic draw. Guess what it was?? A GPS tracker that the used car dealership installed! Apparently some places install these so they can easily repo a car. It was draining approximately 80mA. With it removed the battery draw with everything off went down to 15mA.
ha, interesting. not sure if this car has such a thing installed though; it was bought when it was barely used, from a third party (not a dealer). a Nissan dealership installed DRL in the car about 2.5 years ago though, and after that, the problems started showing up.
[OP]
Member
Jan 19, 2017
425 posts
120 upvotes
george__ wrote: How did the dealer get the DRL working? Properly with a module or hack and slash?

Module is usually ~$200 OEM + harness if needed... Installed inside the engine bay and looks like this
Image
i am not really sure though; we took the car to a Nissan dealership, and they installed it. i don't really know if it was done in a hack-ish way or properly.
Temp. Banned
Jun 18, 2008
5095 posts
4638 upvotes
Montreal
You are going to need a new battery again soon. Leaving you car 'at an airport for 3 weeks is fine' is not the full story. Yes, the car may start after 3 weeks but you just did irreparable damage to the battery and shortened it's life. Do that once more and you shortened the life of the battery dramatically, measured in a year+, that is assuming tha car starts at all after it's 2nd 3 weeks discharge.

A car battery life is shortened dramatically when stressed with frequent discharge and can not be going through these constant discharge cycles of a week +. Car battery also sulfates quicker the milder the temperature so parking indoors isn't really helping much. This car needs to be disconnected or on a tender. You can also remove the battery, take it inside and put it on a tender.
[OP]
Member
Jan 19, 2017
425 posts
120 upvotes
quick question: if i want to disconnect the battery (the car has to sit in the garage for a while), should i just disconnect the negative (or the positive or both)?
Deal Expert
User avatar
Jul 22, 2006
22095 posts
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darXider wrote: quick question: if i want to disconnect the battery (the car has to sit in the garage for a while), should i just disconnect the negative (or the positive or both)?
Don't need to disconnect both..
Deal Addict
Feb 6, 2011
1695 posts
1413 upvotes
darXider wrote: quick question: if i want to disconnect the battery (the car has to sit in the garage for a while), should i just disconnect the negative (or the positive or both)?
Disconnect the negative

Or, use this style of battery disconnect, its the same as disconnecting the battery cable but it is safer, easier, faster and cleaner to use.

411OyfXSjZL.jpg

Once its installed on the battery post, you just turn the knob 1/2 turn to either connect or disconnect power from the battery to the car.

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