Optima Battery - Not very good...

Submitted: Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 13:53

Member - Jeff M (WA)

Well my mate (who's had a hell of a time with his little 4by latley, including a rebuild motor and repaced transfer case all at big $$$) went out with me for a trial run of the 4by with new motor and transfer. We headed up north of Perth just to try some sand tracks and light dunes for a bit of a play. It was about 33degrees and under bonnet temps were pretty hot after some heavy dune work, but all was well and we were having a good time. We decided that we'd have one last crack and a big dune before we headed back out and home. The little Feroza backed up to get a clear runup and just as he put it in first to go for it, everything died. The motor stopped and even his CB which is hooked directly to the battery.
After some checks in the soaring heat of the engine bay with a multimeter and the removal of a few fuses here an there to check I decided that we'd try and jump it off my aux battery (which I could isolate manually to avoid any damage to my car if his electrics were up the crapper).
Yep, away she went, and the volt meter went straight up to 14v. No problem. We get back to the tar and pump the tyres up, he goes to start his car and it's all dead again. I mean totally dead, to the extent wear the dash lights wouldn't even come on when you turned the ignition on.
Turns out his 12 month old herendously expensive yellow top optima has just completly crapped it'self with no warning and no explanation...

He was a little upset about this, and I can't blame him, I'd be bloody dissapointed if I'd spend that much on a battery to get that kind of run out of it too...
So he's heading in today to try and get warranty on it, but because he's moved house since he bought it, he's not sure if he can find the receipt....
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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 14:22

Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 14:22
A Yellow Top as a starting battery?? NO WAY!

The Yellow Top is a Deep Cycle battery and even though the smallest one is rated at 750cca, I wouldn't ever consider using one as a full time cranking battery.

The Red Top is designed as a cranking battery but even these are way too dear.
An Exide Extreme at $150 is a far better proposition.

I wouldn't bag the Optima, it was just being used for the wrong purpose IMHO.

I'm diagonally parked in a parallel Universe!
AnswerID: 141325

Follow Up By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 14:26

Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 14:26
It's 1.6L Petrol with a factory 320CCA battery and the yellow top has 450CCA and was recomended to him by the battery place he bought it from as a dual purpose battery...
FollowupID: 394967

Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 14:36

Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 14:36
Well Jeff, I won't argue with you mate.

Check the Optima Web Site Optima Batteries

Perhaps the retailer that recommended the battery to him will "come to the party"?


I'm diagonally parked in a parallel Universe!
FollowupID: 394969

Follow Up By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 14:39

Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 14:39
This is a chart on Optimas' website, it imply quite clearly IMO that the Yellow top is used for cranking as well as deep cycle...

[ View Image]
FollowupID: 394970

Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 14:45

Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 14:45
Looks to me to be 3 different yellow tops available.
3 different sets of reserve Capacity???
VKS737 - Mobile 6352 (Selcall 6352)

FollowupID: 394971

Follow Up By: myfourby - Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 14:51

Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 14:51
I was recommended a yellow top as a starter battery by the vic importer/distributor - have spoken to many others who also agree that yellow top are a great all round battery because they are more than capable of starting a vehicle while offering the benefits of deep cycle.

I bought two for my trip around OZ and love them (750cca) - mainly due to the fact that they charge so quickly - dead to full charge in less than 2 hours. How long does an Exide Extreme take to charge?

I agree the price is - well just plain wrong - but - my experience of the product itself is great. Every product will have its horror stories - but thats what warranty is for - and failures are the exception to the rule.

I'm not sure that I would buy another however - simply due to the price - but if you need quick recharge time - this is the battery to have.

FollowupID: 394972

Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 15:13

Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 15:13
"How long does an Exide Extreme take to charge?"
About the same as any other wet cell battery. However, because it is a starting battery, it only receives a brief discharge and therefore will be charged up to full capacity quickly.

Sounds to me as if some dealers will recommend anything for a sale.

The battery dealer I give my business to is an independent distributor who does not need to push one brand over another. Therefore he gives accurate advice.

He has been invited to speak to several 4WD Clubs over the years on battery technology and systems.

I'm diagonally parked in a parallel Universe!
AnswerID: 141332

Reply By: Mainey (WA) - Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 15:15

Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 15:15
The question the battery supplier will be asking is: Why has the battery died?

You will need an unquestionable answer, because he will be blaming it on everything possible to avoid giving you a free replacement battery given the opportunity, and on the other hand you will want to know because it probably will happen again if you don't fix the problem now!

Were the alternator recharge voltages as specified for the battery?
Were any wires loose or with lugs not correctly fitted?
Heat could be a problem, but not a major one with a small engine block.
How long did the previous battery last under the (exact) same conditions?

If it had been a red, blue or yellow top, makes no difference, it would still be dead because it is not the battery specs, but the condition of the battery, possibly due to the lack of correct charging, or if you say the heat is really EXCESSIVE then the battery may have died from heat exhaustion.
AnswerID: 141333

Follow Up By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 15:55

Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 15:55
Yeah Mainy, all sounds fair an resonable. I've done a lot of electrical work on this particular car and have a good quality third party volt meter sitting on the dash which I installed myself and it has always been suprisingly good on charge rates etc. Almost ALWAYS 14.2 volts continuously, no matter what the ambiant temp and load. I mean my charging system is all over the frigin place depending on how I hold my mouth when I look at the meter! ;-)

I checked all the connections out there and there didn't seem to be any impedance problems or shorts. That was my first thought was that something unfused has shorted (maybe an alternator connection or similar) and has flattened the battery, but now that we've pulled the battery out and it's completely poo, and the car ran fine on one of my old POS batteries I had lying out near the shed you gotta wonder what happened..?? I know there was a lot of heat under the bonnet as I could hardly touch the anything under the bonnet without buring my hands, and my car had to have a few rests between plays as the temp guage was heading a little north on a few occasions, but still they are supposed to be better in the heat than standard bat's....
FollowupID: 394982

Follow Up By: hl - Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 17:10

Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 17:10
If it has a CCA rating then it is meant for starting. So should not be a drama as a cranking battery.
However, excessive heat may well be the problem.
I personally find the Exide Extreme very good value, especially on Kmart 25% off everything days!
My current one has been installed for 3 years now and still gives good service. Note that the Extreme has a CCA as well as RC and Ah rating, so it can be used for deeper discharges than a normal cranking. When the fridge has been run overnight on it, it will take quite a few hours to fully recharge. However, the last couple of hours it will take only 2-5 amps, and that means really that it is already about 90% full.
FollowupID: 394998

Reply By: pling - Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 18:22

Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 18:22
I have a 12 month old yellow top in a 4.8 Patrol . (know where to put a second battery) And it has been very good. I was told by the dealer it was quite OK to use as a starting battery.
AnswerID: 141355

Reply By: 100TD - Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 18:38

Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 18:38
i also run a pair of yellow tops as crank\winch batteries which was recommended by the distributor of optima as he saw my installation and what i wanted them for plus i have a third gel cell 80aH to run fridge and radios etc and in nearly 3 years of fairly hard work had no problems(also new taxis for some time now-dont know which company run yellow tops from new and get about 7 years out of them compared to 6 months out of deep cycles so im guessing that one may have just been a friday 355pm made one!!
AnswerID: 141357

Follow Up By: muzzimbidgie - Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 21:09

Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 21:09
HEY 100TD I'm just curious. Why do taxi's use deep cycle batteries?
FollowupID: 395035

Reply By: 100TD - Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 21:49

Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 21:49
Hey Muzz im guessing because of the large electrical load ie radios,credit card machines and the like combined with start/stop/start 20hrs a day deep cycles cope better with this than a regular flooded cell battery!
AnswerID: 141393

Follow Up By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 22:04

Monday, Nov 28, 2005 at 22:04
Hmm, I was wondering the same thing, cos even if they were stop start you'd think a cranking battery would be better, if they are running all the time it probally wouldn't make a lot of diff but the crank would be cheaper, having a large load shouldn't really bother a taxi as it's the alternator that would be taking that most of the time...
FollowupID: 395060

Reply By: Ozrunner - Tuesday, Nov 29, 2005 at 00:03

Tuesday, Nov 29, 2005 at 00:03
I hope you buddy has better luck with warranty than I did.

I had a $400 red top in my 4Runner andin 18 months with no warning it failed to start etc etc.

After checking all the normal issues it was finally diagnosed by a sparkie as dropping a cell when cranking. Took it to the dealer with this info and noway would they accept that. They advised their testing showed it was fine. They recharged it and handed it bqck.

You guessed it the next day it would not start the 4Runner. Went back and same again. This went on for weeks !!!!

To cut a long story short on another visit and getting the same answers he was getting agro and said follow me and I'll show you. Hooked it up to the load tester and guess what it immediately dropped to 6.2volts. I hit the roof with I've been F******g telling you etc etc.

Then next they had the cheek to advise that all warranties had to be sent east for confirmation. Much later I get a call advising it was approved and they will pay $70 pro rata !!!!!! This was a 18 month old $400 battery. I told them to jam it where the sun don't shine.

All this took over 3 friggin months !!! NEVER again will I use that crap.

I now use an Exide Orbital marine grade battery and it has never let me down and 1/2 the cost.
AnswerID: 141431

Follow Up By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Wednesday, Nov 30, 2005 at 13:21

Wednesday, Nov 30, 2005 at 13:21
Well mate, looks like you were on the money... First they tell him that the battery is fine, it just needs to be charged on their wiz bang charger and that there is something wrong with his car, which of course there isn't. Anyway, 2 days later he get's a call saying that the battery won't take a charge and is stuffed (suprise suprise). Then they start trying to tell him it's the wrong battery for his car, but he pollitally informed them that they ordered that battery in specifically for his car on their advice. Then they tell him they have no stock and that they will have to order in a replacment and that it is only "pro rata" for the second year, but they calculate it including the first year so they wanted him to pay $170 for a $290 battery to replace it under warranty... What a bloody joke!
So he's comming round tomorrow and we gonna go battery shopping... they can ram that up their unowat!
FollowupID: 395377

Follow Up By: Ozrunner - Wednesday, Nov 30, 2005 at 23:11

Wednesday, Nov 30, 2005 at 23:11

Why am I not surprised. Their after sales service sucks big time.

If you're anywhere near Belmont drop into Belmont Auto Electrics and speak to Tim and maybe check out the Exide orbital marine.

No matter what battery any problems they themselves will honour the warranty and then they take it up with their supplier.
FollowupID: 395483

Reply By: kesh - Tuesday, Nov 29, 2005 at 08:20

Tuesday, Nov 29, 2005 at 08:20
It is possible for one of the alternator diodes to short circuit. (they normally open circuit if carking it) If this the case, there will be a continuous drain of the battery when everything switched off, and the alternator will still charge when running, although at a greatly reduced rate (app. 10a.)
My thought though, is in agreement with the consensus, a dud battery.
good luck with your claim.
AnswerID: 141451

Follow Up By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Tuesday, Nov 29, 2005 at 10:19

Tuesday, Nov 29, 2005 at 10:19
Interesting, sounds like maybe, but the car was running and actually died while it was going.
FollowupID: 395135

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