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View Full Version : Three Batteries in Two Years!



traumac
09-20-2013, 10:44 AM
Background: Live in Florida, have a 2012 Sport. First year, drove it about 35K miles, mostly highway. At about 40K/18 months (now switched to short local commutes mostly), had trouble turning engine over. Checked at Advanced Auto Parts, almost dead. Technically a warranty job, but it was a weekend and studio closed. Bought a AutoCraft Gold Battery with a five year warranty (minus a fifty dollar coupon, SWEET).

Last week, same deal. The new battery is almost dead. Replaced by parts store under warranty. They check alternator; it is OK.

Called FIAT studio. Was told this was not the right battery, I need a glass mat battery.

I am not much of a car guy, but have used this forum (and thank you all!). Is it really essential that I have the glass mat battery? Isn't it wrong to be on my third battery at this point?

thanks a bunch.

Tweak
09-20-2013, 12:35 PM
Welcome to the forum.

Sorry to hear of your problems but I know one member (Rob AKA zonker) replaced his battery with a much smaller battery in his now former Pop and he had no issues, I don't know why but I don't see your issue being easily resolved with your current dealer. They can say you have the wrong battery NOW but the original also failed so they should explain that one! Good luck and hopefully you have another dealer for a second opinion.

Fiat500USA
09-20-2013, 04:21 PM
Sorry to hear you had an issue. Can you tell us the specs on the AutoCraft battery? That may give a clue why it didn't last.

Here are the specs for the original battery.



BCI Group Size Classification

Cold Cranking Amperage

Reserve Capacity

Ampere - Hours

Load Test Amperage



97R

500

100

60

250

White Abarth
09-20-2013, 06:38 PM
Is it really essential that I have the glass mat battery?

I haven't taken a close look to see what type battery is actually in my Abarth, but there's a chance your studio may be right. When our British-built SUV needed a new battery, it required a settings change in the vehicle programming to inform the charging system that a standard (wet-type) battery was installed and to use a different charging algorithm to optimally maintain it. If the installed battery type concerned your studio, Fiat may be doing something similar. Someone more familiar with the build of these cars would need to tell us.

Andree
09-20-2013, 07:53 PM
Background: Live in Florida, have a 2012 Sport. First year, drove it about 35K miles, mostly highway. At about 40K/18 months (now switched to short local commutes mostly), had trouble turning engine over. Checked at Advanced Auto Parts, almost dead. Technically a warranty job, but it was a weekend and studio closed. Bought a AutoCraft Gold Battery with a five year warranty (minus a fifty dollar coupon, SWEET).

Last week, same deal. The new battery is almost dead. Replaced by parts store under warranty. They check alternator; it is OK.

Called FIAT studio. Was told this was not the right battery, I need a glass mat battery.

I am not much of a car guy, but have used this forum (and thank you all!). Is it really essential that I have the glass mat battery? Isn't it wrong to be on my third battery at this point?

thanks a bunch.

Short local commutes will kill the battery. Check your trip info, look at the miles driven, the mpg, the average speed, and the time. You need to look at all four. If your average speed is around 20 mph, you can expect to replace the battery every year-two years.

Some links to similar problems via Google search:
http://www.acuraworld.com/forums/f72/third-dead-battery-3-years-88331/

From the second post at above link: "But for my situation I think is due to too many of the 5 mins driving down the block and turn off kind of thing that drained the battery charge fast b4 the alternator even have the chance to charge it up."
_________________

“An average of one out of four vehicles gets a new battery every year,” said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council.
http://www.carcare.org/2012/03/hot-weather-the-true-culprit-behind-car-battery-trouble/
________________

Same info: "Heat kills batteries," according to John Banta, a Consumer Reports project leader and part of the team that tests batteries for the magazine.
http://blogs.cars.com/kickingtires/2013/03/how-long-does-a-car-battery-in-a-new-car-last.html
_________________

The basic solutions are to drive more, or to trickle charge the vehicle regularly. Or buy a new battery every year. If you park in your very own garage with electricity, you've got it made. Trickle charge it!

Using Google, here's basic info on a trickle charger:
http://www.carsdirect.com/car-repair/how-to-use-a-trickle-charger

And a random trickle charger via Google (disclaimer: I haven't used these products, don't work for these companies, and don't have a garage with electricity to try them out!): http://www.autobodytoolmart.com/craftsman-diehard-platinum-microprocessor-controlled-battery-charger-engine-starter-p-18971.aspx

There are also solar trickle chargers. I'd check with Consumer Reports on those. I'm not sure how effective they are. Here's an old thread of solar trickle chargers, with the kinds of comments I'd expect to see anywhere:
http://ask.metafilter.com/56644/Should-I-buy-a-solar-trickle-charger

As one person said, the theory is sound. If you ARE in a sunny place and you do street park, you could try out the solar trickle charger. It may be that "something is better than nothing" to keep your car battery going. It could be useful if you drive a short distance to work, attend school, or to shop where you leave your car sitting out for hours at a time.

We should probably have a thread on batteries and charging and equipment. Maybe this can be that thread. If anyone has products they use or information or opinion, chime in.

Abarth Phreak
09-21-2013, 01:53 PM
Clearly an issue with the car's charging system, not the battery, and should be covered under warranty if your warranty had not expired and you brought it in to discuss the issue. You SHOULD NOT have to do something extra to charge a car's OEM equivalent battery. Today's technology defies that logic. My former life at Interstate Batteries taught me a few things about them. Short trips or long trips should NOT matter as there are MANY people doing the same thing each day without issue, including myself. (Delivery drivers and couriers are good example) Charging systems have enough oomph at any distance or speed. Think of the car staying on after a jump start...car is not even moving right, which means the charging system is able to surpass the draw. Speak with your dealer about looking into the car's charging systems. Also, shame on the parts store for not leading you to the correct battery if that was the case. If the dealer is not being helpful I would suggest contacting FiatCares for advisement. Good luck!

The Acura link above is misleading. I have an Acura TSX and have had issues...with the Alternator, not the battery. Been there done that. Originally diagnosed with bad batteries, replaced them twice within 6 months each only to get stranded on the freeway (just died at 70mph...what fun!) and finding the alternator was actually bad. Replaced it and no worries now. Common on Hondas running the Denso alternators.

Fiat500USA
09-21-2013, 11:17 PM
Your dealer should be able to check for excessive draw and the charging system. I haven't looked at my battery in a while so can't confirm if it is AGM type battery, but wouldn't be surprised. Group 97R batteries aren't the most common and some folks at a parts store may just take the measurements and find a battery that "fits" but may not have the correct specs. Also, be careful to check the date code on the battery and get a fresh one. Batteries can sit around for a long time in a part store (especially at a retail parts store where most folks don't know to rotate batteries), and by the time you get the battery it can be discharged and already started to sulfate. Depending on how you drive and other factors, it may never get to 100 percent charge and the next thing you know you barely get half the life out of the battery. This is where lack of driving and short trips can come into play. Something to think about is a lot of new cars sit around and the battery could be dead for months before the car is sold (not good for a battery). The dealer gives it a quick charge and delivers the vehicle, but the battery isn't 100% and the above scenerio happens. I've seen that happen - new cars with batteries that have gone bad in too short a time frame. My first new car was like that! LOL

These are the specs for the alternator:



NOMINAL RATING (AMPS)

MINIMUM OUTPUT (AMPS) (@ SPECIFIED TEST
CONDITIONS)



Denso A115

1.4L

105A




TEST CONDITIONS



1. Engine RPM: 2500 RPM (ENGINE HOT)



2. Voltage Output: 13.0 16.0 V

Fiat500USA
09-21-2013, 11:28 PM
I just checked. That AutoCraft battery is under spec and only has a 60 minute reserve time. The OEM spec is 100 minutes. That *may* have something to do with the problem along with the scenarios above. Just make sure the dealer checks the charging system out for you to ease your mind. Use the above specs to find the correct battery, but you may wind up having to get it from the dealer. I had a hard time finding one when I looked briefly.

traumac
09-24-2013, 05:14 AM
Sorry for not replying sooner, family emergency out of town. All is well now, though.

I appreciate all the answers. I did take the car in; dealer's mechanic huffed a little about the replacement battery. Just for you technical experts, it is this one:


Battery Type: Lead Acid
BCI Group Size: 47
Cold Cranking Amps: 520 amps
Cranking Amps: 650 amps
Deep Cycle/Starting: Starting
Height: 7 1/2 in
Length: 9 9/16 in
Maintenance Free: Yes
Reserve Capacity: 60 min
Terminal Type: Top Terminal
Voltage: 12 v
Weight: 45 lbs
Width: 6 15/16 in

Link to the store: http://shop.advanceautoparts.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_battery-group-size-47-520-cca-autocraft-gold_2130014-p?navigationPath=L1*14920%7CL2*15000#fragment-2

The dealer checked out charging system, and the tech at Advance Discount Auto Parts also gave alternator clean bill after battery replacement.

I give up, guess I will see how it goes. I have 4.5 years left on battery warranty! I guess my real confusion was the "glass mat" type of battery but could find nothing on line that ANY care mandates its use.
Thanks folks.

Fiat500USA
09-24-2013, 12:09 PM
Glad to hear your family situation is worked out. I recently went to an AutoZone looking for batteries for an Audi and found some as old as 18 months! That is a long time to sit on a shelf. They tested the newest one which was 6 months old and it was 20% discharged! Now that will still start your car, but is not what you want to start off with. If someone puts that battery in a car that is driven short distances or sits aroud, that battery is going to have problems down the road. One day you'll be listening to the radio for 20 minutes while you work on the car, and the battery is going to go dead. Someone will jump the car and drive it around a little and maybe it will seem OK, but it will never be right because an alternator is not meant to charge up a dead battery. That battery will likely leave you stranded one day.

To keep this from happening to anyone, ask to see the date code on the side of the battery and that will tell you how old it is (a couple of months is generally OK sitting on a shelf). Have the parts guy load test the battery and see the results. If the battery isn't 100 percent, have them charge it up. It may seem like a lot of effort, but it is like picking out fruit, you want to get the best one.biggrin