Car Repairs 102: Batteries Are A Pain

So, yesterday morning I went to go start my car and found my car wouldn’t respond to ANYTHING. At all. Literally. No lights, no unlock, no keypad, no lights, no nothing. Sad trombone.  Mild freakout, call Dan, Dan gives me a ride to work.  Day salvaged so far.  Not the best start to a Wednesday, but whatever, it’s just one of the perks of owning a car, I suppose.

I’m still freaking out a bit because my car had been running fine over the past few months.  No real ‘signs’ that the battery had any problems.  I’m immediately worst-casing the entire thing.  Bad battery.  Why? Bad alternator? Short in the car drained battery overnight? I don’t know.  Not enough information.  Need to test the battery, that’ll give me some sort of indication.

Well, test complete.

Easy enough.  The battery is bad.  No problem, time to find a replacement. PepBoys to the rescue.  Battery purchased and picked up, installed, good to go.  Battery tests fine in the car.  Alternator and starter test fine in the car.  Hurray!  Problem solved.

So I start looking into the warranty on the original battery.  Purchased 4/2012.  36 month free replacement.  100 month pro-rate warranty.  Cool.  Let’s look into this.  Battery purchased 4/2012 at the end of the month, according to the docs that means it starts 5/2012.  Since it’s January the warranty counts only til January 1st.  (Warranty only counts full months, according to the service docs).  So, 7 months of 2012, 12 months of 2013, 12 months of 2014, 12 months of 2015, 12 months of 2016, no months of 2017.  4*12 + 7 = 48+7 = 55 months.  Cool, well within the warranty pro-rate period.

Here’s where it all goes downhill: Ford only applies the reimbursement to new batteries purchased through them. That’s it.  There is no reimbursement or anything, they literally only credit your bill when you buy a new one.

Yeah, no thanks.

I already bought a battery through PepBoys (a Bosch 36/96 battery) and it works flawlessly.  Not bringing it back nor am I dealing with Ford for batteries ever again.

Moral of the story:

Check your batteries often.  Testers are cheap. Like really cheap.  This one tests Cold Crank Amps.  This one tests your voltage and alternator.  They’re handy to have.  You can get an all-in-one, but they are expensive.  The one I linked last is the one I used to test, thanks to Dan and I can vouch for it.  I am buying the other two sooner or later.

Don’t trust dealer batteries.  Go with a good name brand like Bosch.  Buy it from a reputable seller (not a car dealership, because then you’re depending on them to be able to help you out).  If you buy from a seller like PepBoys at least you can probably find one close to you that can help you out when dealing with the warranty or the pro-rate.  The local PepBoys has better hours than the local car dealerships by me anyways, so it’s a double win in my book.  I bought this Bosch battery.  It is great so far.  Plus, you’ll probably be able to find a better performing battery for less cost than the dealer anyways.

Don’t trust dealer warranties.  Especially don’t trust dealer warranties.  Even if they’re documented, they’ll always find some way to weasel out of it.

Keep your records.  Any time you buy parts or do service of any kind on your vehicle, keep a record of it.  This helps sanity check and diagnose issues.  It’ll help, trust me.

As an aside: I know, I know, it’s on me to read the fine print.  I should have asked more about the details of the warranty when I got the battery.  That being said, if you’re going to offer a pro-rated warranty, what does it matter how I get the pro-rate?  If I want cash for it, then I should be able to get cash for it.  It’s like when I argue about warranties for equipment.  We buy laptops with 3 year warranties, but the battery only has a 1 year warranty.  Why?  The vendor can do it that way, that’s why.  So your 3 year warrantied device has a 1 year warrantied battery; sure, it’s always been done that way, but that does not make it ‘right’, it’s still just as stupid.

And that’s my 2 cents.

-M, out (to bring my old battery back to PepBoys so I can get my $15 core charge returned to me).

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