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Battery maintenance: Know your warranty

What do you do when your dealer refuses to warranty batteries because their pocket electronic tester says the batteries are good?

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In my world, battery maintenance has been more important than oil and grease for the last 20 years. You should use good, consistent maintenance intervals, but the oils and greases in the last 20 years have been of a high quality that will stand up even to poor intervals and management practices. I have never lost an engine from any quality oil issues.

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Batteries are a different story. I have visited numerous recognized battery manufacturers to see if I could determine what the difference is between the different types of 62-lb. batteries: marine, deep cycle, 1000 CCAs, 750 CCAs, etc.

One of my fleet clients has exceptional battery maintenance procedures. At each PM the batteries and cables are removed, cleaned and load tested. They have tried both flooded and AGMs and with multiple brands. These trucks are equipped with solar panels and have been on a tightly-controlled battery program—some would even call it overkill.

They also have the sophisticated electronic tester that prints out the information on the condition of each battery. Now, this tester is not the smaller electronic tester, but the big-time, red, roll-around tester. As a note, I am not a fan of an electronic tester, still being an old fool that supports carbon pile testers. You know; the reasonably-priced HD Toaster.

Over the last year, this fleet’s battery usage increased and, like many other fleets do, they moved to another brand. This came about from the warranty—or rather, the lack of one. The dealer refused to warranty the batteries because his pocket electronic tester said the batteries were good. The director of maintenance visited the dealer with his carbon pile to test the batteries—all said they failed. His electronic tester also said they all failed with the fleet’s printout. The dealer’s tester, on the other hand, said they were good, and so the dealer refused any warranty. The dealer said warranty was based on their tester and any other information did not matter.

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This fight is still going on; the issue has risen to the next level at the manufacturer and the same position is being held by both sides. In the meantime, the fleet at this time has no alternative but to change suppliers to a new vendor for their battery needs.

So, a few suggestions. If you have not been to a battery manufacturer, then go, and ask hundreds of questions. Ask what the difference is when different labeled batteries all weigh the same and but have different CCAs on the label. Ask about the warranty—is there one, or are you just buying insurance and prepaid warranty? What this fleet got was B.S. with poor customer service. If you dig deep and look more closely, chances are there are opportunities on both sides, but you might want to get more knowledgeable on batteries; it might save you some money and help you get what you paid for. Additionally, you should load test at each PM, not just when there is an issue.

For more information, visit darrystuart.com or email comments or questions to Darry at: [email protected].

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