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Hello,


Just returned from my Subaru Dealer where he replaced the depleted battery in my 11 month old Outback 3.6 with an OEM SOA821B4oo which appears to be a larger battery than the failed one. The dealer blamed our driving habits on the failed battery. We have driven a total of 4200 miles, mostly short trips, under 5 miles. He said the car has so many electronics that put a strain on the battery short trips do not allow the alternator to fully charge the battery and that we need to drive the car 20 --30 miles. He also said the heat, we live just outside of Phoenix, played no role in the battery failure. He suggested buying a battery tender to help charge the battery.


I wonder if anyone has had this short trip issue and does anyone use a battery tender? Also, would buying a larger group 34 battery help solve this issue. Thanks for any advice.


MJW
 

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On the Super Mod Squad
2002 3.0 VDC Wag + 2018 2.5 Leg Ltd
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26,846 Posts
2015-16 people complained a whole lot about batteries being too small from the factory, that stopped with 2017. (edit: I guess??)


other threads seem to have complaints of people with their keyless fobs activating things or starting the car when they are inside the house.
like its banging around in a pocket and killing the battery, ...prompting them to wrap the fobs in aluminum foil when they get home.

however:


phoenix/ tuscon are historically hard on car batteries.


@MiddleAgeSubie

any of your cars poking around the frying pan, ever get a tender? how long has your 3.6 one lasted?
 

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I don't do short trips but I tend to leave the car unused for long duration of time. I replaced OEM battery with 34 and use battery tender during long stretches of unused. If your trips don't give sufficient driving time to charge up the smaller battery, I suspect that it won't be sufficient to charge up a larger capacity battery. I think using the batter tender will address the issue. You have to remind yourself to disconnect before driving. I forgot yesterday :).
 

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2012 OB , 2017 Impreza
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I have a QUALITY battery-charger and will top off (normalize) the battery in all my vehicles a couple times a year. (Cars, motorcycle, lawnmower, snowmobile.... etc)

A 12V battery is made up of SIX 2Volt cells in series. (Think of a chain with six links) The weakest cell determines the maximum power a battery can supply.

Normalizing a battery is essentially getting all the cells to be working together. Over time and many engine-start cycles, some of the cells may never get fully recharged. Hence, those weaker cells reduce the power that the ENTIRE battery can supply.

A controlled overcharge will normalize all the cells so they are all working together. A quality charger is capable of performing a battery-normalize.

I can tell you that I often get over 7 years of life from my automotive batteries using this 'twice a year' normalize.
 

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2016 Outback Premium 2.5, Ice Silver
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mjw2525, I'm in Phoenix, for my own info which dealership was this?
 

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2016 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited with Tech & Eyesight
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I don't drive a lot so once per month, I use my Ctek battery charger over night to maintain/charge the battery - may be overkill but I never run out of power :)

Cheers.
 

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2015 Outback Limited 2.5i
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I use a CTEK also, for a vehicle I use sparingly and seasonally. But I picked up a more advanced unit for another vehicle when I am out of town for a long period of time. This Schumacher unit handles other battery types, so if you're buying, it may be a worthwhile investment for future needs as well: SP6 - Schumacher Electric
 

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2016 Outback Premium 2.5 CVT w/EyeSight+SRVD
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We have driven a total of 4200 miles [in 11 months], mostly short trips, under 5 miles. He said the car has so many electronics that put a strain on the battery short trips do not allow the alternator to fully charge the battery ...
Driving only 400 miles a month, 5 miles at a time, is going to be hard on any battery in any vehicle, for the reasons stated.

He also said the heat ... played no role in the battery failure.
Engine compartment heat is the enemy of battery longevity, but it's not likely to be significant at 5 miles per trip, even in Phoenix summers. However, 5-mile trips implies lots of engine starts (i.e. every 5 miles, or 80+ starts per month), and over the long term the cumulative number of starts is a factor (one of many) in battery life.

He suggested buying a battery tender to help charge the battery.
I concur with brucep that a periodic top-up using a good-quality "smart" battery charger/maintainer is an excellent idea. It certainly won't hurt anything. An overnight charge every month or two would probably not be too often.

I wonder if anyone has had this short trip issue and does anyone use a battery tender? Also, would buying a larger group 34 battery help solve this issue.
This short-trip issue has been around forever; it even used to be worse back before modern alternators began replacing wimpy, old-fashioned generators (~1957). All the electronics and electrical accessories (e.g. electric radiator fan, powerful A/C blowers, power windows, power seats, heated seats, electric de-icing, electric steering assist, etc.) in modern cars certainly do place a bigger burden on the battery ... at a time when manufacturers are trying to remove every extra ounce of weight they can, including battery weight, from their vehicles in pursuit of better fuel economy.

A Group 34 battery (by itself) wouldn't help much, if any, with the short-trip issue. At best, it might slightly increase the time span between dead-battery episodes.
 
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I wonder if anyone has had this short trip issue and does anyone use a battery tender?
Yes. I too do mostly short trips in a warm climate (not as warm as Phoenix though). And the dealership did the upgraded battery swap on my 3.6 as well.

Every few weeks or so, I plug it into a Battery Tender Plus for the night (using the quick disconnect) and carry on... no issues so far. Plus, it's a good reason to poke around under the hood once in a while. :wink2:

 

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2017 Outback 2.5i Limited
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Sounds like you are a candidate for a battery that can handle deep discharges without damage. I went with an Group 34 Optima Yellow Top, and connect a battery tender once a month and leave it connected for a few hours.

Like said above, any car would have trouble maintaining battery charge with such short trips. Sounds like you'd be an ideal candidate for a Electric vehicle, not a ICE.
 

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2017 Outback 2.5i Limited
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2015-16 people complained a whole lot about batteries being too small from the factory, that stopped with 2017.


other threads seem to have complaints of people with their keyless fobs activating things or starting the car when they are inside the house.
like its banging around in a pocket and killing the battery, ...prompting them to wrap the fobs in aluminum foil when they get home.

however:


phoenix/ tuscon are historically hard on car batteries.


@MiddleAgeSubie

any of your cars poking around the frying pan, ever get a tender? how long has your 3.6 one lasted?
The problem did not stop with the 2017 model. My '17 Limited 2.5i came with the same wimpy 356cca battery.
 

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2015 Legacy 3.6R ES, 2014 Forester Touring ES, 2005 Jeep Liberty Limited
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I top off (battery tender) my batteries once a month since we have three vehicles with two drivers. Just part of my standard maintenance.. Check fluids, tires, lights, brakes, wipers etc.

Laughing at Oneself and with Others is Good for the Soul
 

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The problem did not stop with the 2017 model. My '17 Limited 2.5i came with the same wimpy 356cca battery.
Correct. "The problem stopped with 2017" because 2017's haven't been around long enough for the newness to wear off and the "problem" to surface.

My 2016 was found dead in the carport after 4 days having been driven 60 miles the day it was parked. Battery was under 5 volts. Has sat unused longer many times before, and several times since. No dome light or door ajar. No explanation at all. Dealer swears battery and everything checks out.

I too have problems with the key fob unintentionally unlocking the car, opening the hatch, etc. Put an end to that by changing my habit of keeping key in pocket to removing key from pocket when I get home. Tempted to buy a 3D printer and make a sheath or cover for the key fob.

If the car has sat for a day or two the status lights on my Battery Tender suggests the SOC is less than 80%. Perhaps the dealer is correct in that there is nothing "broken" but it would seem the onboard electronics and telemetry can draw on the battery at will, and perhaps are not too smart about protecting the battery. If I am correct then a larger battery is only a bandaid, much the same as the observation of 2017's not yet complaining as much as older vehicles.
 

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The original battery (490CCA from Johnson Controls) in my 3.6 started showing signs of failure (slow cranking) at about 20 months of age, with minimal short trip driving (my daily commute is 20 miles). The dealer tested it and decided to replace it under warranty with the SOA821B400, which is supposedly a 550CCA battery made by Interstate.

+1 on using a smart-charger a couple times a year to better maintain the cells, particularly if your battery is already a couple years old. I started using the CTEK 7002 (a higher-end model) about twice a year on my last Subaru's battery after it was 2 or 3 years old. It was still going strong when I sold the car (~6 year old battery). I often wonder if the CTEK could have kept my new Outback's factory battery from dying so prematurely; pretty shocked it didn't even last 2 years.
 

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I wonder if the smart alternator has anything to do with batteries going dead.
We just took delivery of a 2017 2.5, but I told them I won't take it unless they swap out with the larger H6 battery, Which they agreed to. However, he did ask if we drive short distances or highway. They can reprogram the alternator to run more often for short trip driving. I believe the alternator by default runs less often to improve mileage, but at the expense of battery charging...
 

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I understand that running the headlights "On" as opposed to "Auto" will force the "smart" charging system to provide more charge to the battery during daylight hours. Since I've experienced several no-warning dead battery conditions with my 2012 CRV that uses a similar sytem, I've run the headlights "On" whenever I'm driving, and it seems to help. I'm doing that with my 2016 Outback as well as a preventative measure.
 

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...They can reprogram the alternator to run more often for short trip driving...


I do not understand this.

A fully charged battery will not draw any current from the alternator thus no load on the engine.
 

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... I believe the alternator by default runs less often to improve mileage, but at the expense of battery charging...
This is a very likely scenario... The government-mandates for MPG and emmissions have forced automakers to come up with all kinds of little 'tweaks' to meet the standards. Emmissions during engine warmup is a particular engineering challenge. One way to approach this challange is to eliminate as much engine-load as possible during warmup.
(Alternator disable during warmup, AC compressor disable, Modified Xmission shift-pattern during warmup...etc)

Over the course of many short trips.... the battery would likely never achieve full charge. This situation is DEADLY for a battery. (greatly shortens the life)
 
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