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Best Replacement Battery?

akasrpakasrp Posts: 170
edited April 5 in Subaru
AAA came by and jump-started my 04 XT today. Dome light (door ajar) killed the battery. Guy tried to sell me a AAA brand battery off the truck for $116. I passed. If it turns out the battery does need to be replaced - or just for future reference - do you guys have a preferred store/brand? Costco? Walmart? Sears? AAA? Thanks!

Comments

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The problem is even DieHard batteries have changed suppliers recently so it's hard to know exactly what you're getting.

    Look for something with a good CCA rating, Cold Cranking Amps, that's when your battery will fail, most of the time.

    The OE battery on my 98 Forester had a rather pathetic rating, 265 or so IIRC, and I replaced it with a 550 that was a whole lot better. Start ups seemed quicker after that, though to be fair I was comparing with a 5 year old OE battery.
  • akasrpakasrp Posts: 170
    Thanks, ateixeira!
    Good to see you're still here and helpful as always!
    ps: my 04 XT still running like a champ - time for a new car for the wife - after all the choices available, looks like an 09 Forrester XT (despite the lack of heated seats in the 'base') is her top pick! ;-)
  • bigfrank3bigfrank3 Posts: 426
    There are actually only 4 or 5 companies that make batteries and get re-branded. Besides the CCA that Juice mentioned the thing to look for is the date on them. Try to get the freshest one you can find where you end up looking. A while back Consumer Reports tested batteries and the Wal-Mart brand came out on top, with the caveat of the date to be considered. I have used the Wal-Mart batteries and found very good performance as well as price. I also like them because I can actually look through the rack myself for the dates.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Try to stretch and get the Premium model, which has the All weather pack (and those heated seats).
  • bigfrank3bigfrank3 Posts: 426
    Consumer Reports again tested batteries in the new Nov. issue. The majority of the recommended ones were again the Wal-Mart EverStart Maxx, with a note that they were particularly good values.
  • akasrpakasrp Posts: 170
    Thanks bigfrank - got a nice new gargantuan WM w/autoshop a few miles away - EverStart Maxx it will be - yeah, juice, price be damned (will get the IMBA Invoice anyway) gotta have those heated seats! ;-)
  • gariongarion Posts: 7
    Well my timing is good for this thread.

    I just tried to start my car. No alarm, lights, nothing. I realized I left the spotlight on. So I'm not certain if I just drained the battery or it died. I have a '01 Forester with the OEM battery. So, it's 7 years old.

    It probably just makes sense to get a new one at this stage. Then jumping it, etc... Right?
  • bigfrank3bigfrank3 Posts: 426
    Well, you can certainly jump it, and you will find out in short order if it is any good. Some batteries don't bounce back well from a dead state, but you will know this once you get it running and drive for 1/2 hour or so, then try to restart.

    Of course, one could argue that you got your money's worth out of the original, and it is probably due. As Juice mentioned above the higher CCA you can get with a replacement is a real plus, especially in cold climates. I have found it amazing how better a vehicle feels sometimes with a battery change. The alternator doesn't have to work as hard to keep the current flowing so less drag. Old batteries can add a lot of resistance into the system, and they degrade slowly so sometimes it is not noticeable until a new one is installed.
  • gariongarion Posts: 7
    Thanks! Sounds like a good plan.
  • gariongarion Posts: 7
    Just a quick update and a question.

    After trying to jump my car and the car still wouldn't start, we decided it's time to just get a new battery. But right before we were about to leave, my super stops by and suggests that we use his battery charger. (He also tried to jump it with this battery jumper that is suppose to jump 18 wheelers... it didn't work. Nada. We got at least a wheeze from my sister's Passat.) After the failure of his battery jumper gizmo, I just went and got a new battery from Sears. It was just easier.

    So, altho my problem has been fixed, I'm curious and this might be helpful for others in the future. Would it make sense to try and use the charger. It takes 4 hrs supposedly. I mean, I guess it couldn't hurt. The worst thing is that it wouldn't work and you'd just have to take the battery out again and then finally get a new one, right?
  • bigfrank3bigfrank3 Posts: 426
    Battery chargers work great to slowly recharge the battery. Sometimes slowly is the only way to bring back one that has gone dead, although as I mentioned earlier most current batteries don't like to be run way down. I have seen new ones not recover very well. There are deep-cycle batteries designed for situations were it might get that kind of use. Optima makes a very good one.

    Chargers usually don't work well to jump start because they aren't designed to provide the current reserve necessary for that. Some are, the one I have has 3 settings, 2 amp, 10 amp, and "boost", but nothing beats a big battery with a lot of reserve for a jump. My charger will also not over-charge the battery. Sometimes I use it on my tractor on the 2 amp setting just to keep the battery fully charged, especially when the tractor is not getting regular use.

    Don't forget that the whole thing is a circuit, including the connections, so if the battery clamps aren't clean, shiny, and tight there is a lot of resistance created to putting current into the battery. My recommendation for a marginal battery is always to clean up the connections and slowly charge the battery with a charger if time allows. Otherwise a jump from a big battery is the best bet.

    Also don't forget to check the level in the battery. I have found low-maintenance and "maintenance free" batteries that needed water to be added. Many have caps or covers that can be removed for water addition even though they don't look like it. A battery low on fluid will not provide full capacity.

    Cables can cause a problem too. I once worked on a car that I couldn't get to start no matter what I did. It had good clean connections, good battery and everything looked fine. I finally took a resistance measurement of the cable that ran to the starter with my ohm meter and got a very high reading. I took a razor blade and slit the vinyl covering of the cable and it was basically 75% powder inside, even though it looked great from the outside. I replaced both cables and that fixed things.
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