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Tech 101: Selecting the Proper Battery

Posted August 27, 2013 8:00 AM by dstrohl
Pathfinder Tags: battery selection Tech 101

Well-placed advertising and marketing campaigns were, for decades, the reason people bought a particular battery: the convenience of installation of the Sears Diehard, the availability of Delco through GM dealerships, Exide and Interstate's NASCAR sponsorships, Duralast's commercials. Consumers sought out and bought brand-name recognition, often without considering the quality of the product they were purchasing. Batteries are often offered in varying cold-cranking amp ratings and with varying warranties, and educating yourself about how much battery you actually need can save you money or allow you to buy a battery with a longer warranty.

Learn how to select a battery at Hemmings Daily.

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#1

Re: Tech 101: Selecting the Proper Battery

08/28/2013 11:43 AM

I have yet to find any replacement battery that will last longer than the battery that came with the car when it was new.

I have no proof of any kind, but my suspicion is that the batteries produced for the OEM's are of higher quality materials and manufacturing. The OEM's have the volume and the QC to ensure that they get the best units regardless of battery manufacturer. The OEM's are going to demand the highest quality battery possible because they want to minimize warranty costs.

I've never purchased a "dealer" battery to see if the OEM replacement is as good as the original but I suspect not. I'll never find out either because the prices charged by the dealer are such that I could by six DieHards for the same price.

My 2005 VW Jetta still has its OEM battery with no issues. My 1975 VW Rabbit had its OEM battery for 9 years. And that was in New England to boot before global warming (). My 2002 Chevy Suburban battery survived for 7 years, but I attribute its shorter life to its small size. My 2000 Ford F-150 battery survived for 11 years but it is easily 50% larger than my Chevy's battery for essentially the same engine.

As for replacement batteries, two decades ago, I would swear by DieHards because they seem to last longer than other brands. Nowadays, it doesn't seem to matter as much. A battery from Sam's Club, or Sears, or Autozone, or Pep Boys, or whoever, they all seem to have roughly the same life. My general recommendation is that no matter whose battery you buy, buy the biggest one available that will fit your application. Larger lasts longer.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Tech 101: Selecting the Proper Battery

08/31/2013 5:51 AM

You have to wonder about the Sears range of "good," "better" and "best," when it comes to batteries, with their 3, 4 & 5 year guarantees. So what is the difference? A guy that worked in a garage where I once replaced my battery, explained cynically that it was how much space was left in the base of the battery case. A small gap meant that the electrodes got immersed in sludge earlier on and hence failed. Rather a dastardly trick. I suppose it would be called a marketing ploy.

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#3
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Re: Tech 101: Selecting the Proper Battery

09/04/2013 7:39 PM

I was told the same thing by a representative from Gould 20 years ago. The larger the sediment space is the only major difference between longer and shorter life Lead Acid Batteries. The amount of active material is essentially the same.

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Re: Tech 101: Selecting the Proper Battery

09/05/2013 10:01 AM

Thanks for confirming that. What a lot of sh*te we have to put up with crooked manufacturers. As always, vote with your wallet. Sears are a mere shadow of what they used to be and deservedly so.

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Re: Tech 101: Selecting the Proper Battery

09/05/2013 10:24 AM

On that same premise, if the battery is properly maintained. The "shorter" battery with less sediment space can last almost as long as the full price one. You are essentially paying for the warranty. Use distilled water and keep charging system in proper working order.

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