Did I get scammed on my new car battery?

Went out to my car this morning only to find the battery was dead. No big deal, and not a total surprise; I don’t drive my car much, it’s been pretty cold in Chicago lately, and the battery is several years old. I was wondering if I would have to replace it this winter.

I called AAA who dispatched a battery guy. He jumps my car and it starts. Good stuff. But, he performs a test on the battery and says it’s on its last legs. Specifically, he says that my battery is supposed to put out 620 CCA and is only putting out 192. He recommends a new battery.

Now, since I had been thinking about getting a new battery anyway, and the guy was right there with a new battery, and seemed like a decent guy, I decided to go for it. And I don’t really care much if I got suckered because I expect that this is the last battery I’ll ever put in this car, so who cares if it goes in this year or next.

But I did wonder, after the fact, whether what he was telling me was true/meaningful, or whether it was designed to take advantage of the guy who doesn’t know much about batteries (i.e. me).

I have the printout he gave me from my old battery. Here are the readings:
Voltage 13.12V
Measured 192 CCA
Rated 620 CCA
Temperature 21 degrees

So, did I really need a new battery?

I can’t answer your technical question, but I had the exact same thing happen to me. The AAA driver told me my battery was shot and I should get a new one. I was ready to buy, but the doofus didn’t have my size battery with him!

Anyway, he was able to start my car, and after driving for 30 minutes or so I felt ok turning off the engine; my battery has worked fine ever since (a few months). I don’t drive often, which is why the battery went in the first place, so now I make sure to drive it at least once a week.

If this is going to be a pattern for AAA drivers when they come to jump your car, it does not make me happy with AAA, which I have always been before.

The CCA was definitely low. The printout confirms the numbers he told you. At full strength, the number would be at the rated value of 660 amps. The cold weather would reduce that, but you’re down to less than a third of rated value.

How old was the battery?

All I know is:
The first time I pulled up next to a truck that had printed on its side, AAA Batteries Delivered it made me smile and say WTF?

More than five years, but I haven’t dug through my records to figure out exactly how old. Probably 5, 6, or 7. Can’t remember exactly.

Is the CCA reading affected by the battery not being fully charged? In other words, if I had driven around for an hour and fully recharged the old battery, would the CCA still be that low, or was it lower than it would otherwise have been due to being almost drained?

My battery is five years old and at my last tune-up they told me it was about to die and I should replace it. I haven’t done it yet because I prefer the time-honoured method of going out to start my car in the morning when I’m trying to get to work and have it be completely dead THEN replace it. :slight_smile:

I don’t think you got ripped off - you have an old battery, it isn’t cranking like it used to, you got one installed and had the old one taken away (I assume) which costs you something as well - what’s not to like?

Yeah, I knew I was about due for one just based on age. With this thread, I’m really just trying to educate myself for the future about what the numbers mean.

Plus… your battery was dead, right? How long was it dead for? A standard car battery doesn’t like to be completely discharged. Especially one that is six years old. Sulfation on the plates can quickly destroy the battery when it is completely discharged.

The battery was already in old age, and you greatly accelerated the aging by discharging it. So I am guessing it really was on its last leg.

Hrm. How hard would it be to change your own car batteries? I just had the AA change my battery, which was only about 3 years old. I don’t drive very often, though, which might contribute to the fast wear.

Oh, it’d be easy as pie to do yourself, but every time I’ve bought a battery (admittedly, this is only 2 or 3 times) the price has included installation.

…on most cars. Not on all. Tucked-away locations, overengineered hold-downs, or rusted fasteners can make it a challenge in some cases.

At 4 years your battery is on social security. At 5 years it is on borrowed time.
The testers they have now can accurately predict cold cranking amps even when the battery won’t start the car.
Based on what you have posted, I have no problem with your being sold a battery. I have however seen AAA drivers that were less than scrupulous.
Case #1 car won’t start. Driver tries to sell battery. Battery under warranty from us. Car gets jumped and brought in. Battery fine, Alternator dead.
long discussion with owner. (why do car owners always believe the tow truck driver?) Finally have owner come to shop and test electrical system in front of him. Battery good, alternator bad. Leads to this exchange:
Cust: Then why did he try to sell me a battery?
Me: AAA doesn’t sell alternators.

Case #2 elderly lady with bad AAA battery, car in our shop. Call for replacement. They send tow truck, not a battery truck. “We will tow it to our shop to check out”
Bullshit asshole First we are working on the car, secondly you will sell this nice little old lady every fucking thing you can think of including changing the summer air in her tires for winter air. Finally I have a fucking shop full of state of the art diagnostic tools for electrical systems. you can test it here, or get the fuck out.
Threw the asshole out. Called AAA direct. Got a supervisor Explained the situation. Put customer on phone. Talked some more.
Asshole comes out with the battery. Takes old one back, no charge.

unless it took you three separate trips to the hardware store to figure out you needed a 10mm box wrench. :smack:

The question is not “did you need a new battery?” (you did), but rather, “Did you pay too much for the battery?”. And that’s probably a qualified “yes”. I’m guessing you paid slightly north of $100.00 for the battery, based on the quote I got last year from my AAA guy. And you can do it yourself for $70, more-or-less, depending on the battery and where you buy it. But the convenience of having some guy slap one in the car rather than having to do it yourself is something only you can put a price on.

I’ll give my usual lecture on batteries here.

Modern batteries are smaller and more powerful than batteries built in the 70’s. They do this by putting more plates in them and spacing them close together. Unlike their predecessors, they don’t give much warning when they die. I’ve had many batteries die in mid start with no sign of pulling slowly. They shorted out so thoroughly that they would not produce enough voltage to keep the alternator field energized after being jump started.

If it’s more than 4 years old then it is waiting for the most inopportune moment to fail. Your battery needed replacing.

It’s Winter so don’t park someplace that jeopardizes your safety in the cold. Seriously. Murphy’s law says it will happen during a snow storm when all the tow trucks are busy. Been there, wasn’t happy to have done that.

Yeah, that’s a good point. {Shakes fist}Darn you, Murphy! Darn you to heck!

Its condition was terminal.

But I’m not positive.

Man why do you always have to be so negative?

You let an alcoholic change your battery?