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Discussion Starter #1
Are Optima batteries worth the extra cost? I bought a yellow top Optima 6 years ago and it's time to replace it, not bad really but I would guess a $100 battery would last at least 3 to 4 years.
 

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I use Optima batteries in my "toy" cars - the ones I don't want to get rust in battery tray from spilled acid. I always use the red Optimas. For me, they have lasted far longer than 6 years. I hate to admit it, but the one in my Giulia spider is pushing 20 years, and still starts the car after weeks of inactivity.

The price of Optimas has gone up - you can't replace your yellow top for $100. Amazon has them for $160 with free shipping. Costco is another low-cost source.
 

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I think the biggest benefit is that gel batteries don't slosh corrosive stuff onto your inner fender when cornering hard. On a street car, not sure it matters much if you're not a canyon carver. On my track GTV, I ruined the paint on the inner fender before switching to a gel battery.
Andrew
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
The last 2 outings I've had problems, both times after a rest stop it failed to start but started right up when jumped.

In reviewing my logs tonight I noticed last year my voltage would vary from 13.6 to 13.8 while driving but in todays log it varyed from 13.1 to 13.3. Also in checking the log tonight my voltage (with the ignition on but not running showed 12.33 volts but it did start. I'm thinking I dropped below what voltage was needed to start out on the road.

Andrew.......Good point on sloshing corrosive stuff around when on the track. If I go to another Optima I think I'll try the red top this time for it's higher cranking power. Before I was looking for more reserve capacity but there lots of choices.

Alfajay which red top did you get 20 years out of?

Optima Batteries - Auto Parts Warehouse
 

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I have only owned one - a red top. I doubt that I will buy another. I too bought it to avoid corrosion in the trunk of my seldom driven GTV and it was successful in that respect, but I was disappointed with it's inability to hold charge. I thought that it would be better than a regular wet cell battery but it was worse.
 

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Optima batteries have developed a poor reputation for reliability in recent years. Some say they went down hill when they outsourced production to Mexico.

To be fair though they require special charging and maintenance procedures to maximize their reliability and lifespan: Optima Battery FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions Optima recommends an automatic battery maintainer for seldom-driven cars:

Preferred: Fully automatic “multi-stage” or “multi-step” chargers, which monitor the battery and charge it as necessary. Multi-stage maintainers will charge at varying voltages and varying amperage (rarely exceeding two amps). Some of these multi-step chargers are also capable of being regular battery chargers (seven amps or more).

OK but not preferred: Traditional “float” chargers provide constant voltage with tapering amperage to the battery even when it is fully charged. For float charging, we recommend 1 amp max, 13.2-13.8V.
Sometimes they become so discharged that they can't recharge. I think a typical battery charger has to detect some voltage to be able to charge it. A trick is to connect a good battery to it in parallel, and attach the charger to the good battery. Optima recommends this in their instructions.
 

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The last 2 outings I've had problems, both times after a rest stop it failed to start but started right up when jumped.

In reviewing my logs tonight I noticed last year my voltage would vary from 13.6 to 13.8 while driving but in todays log it varyed from 13.1 to 13.3. Also in checking the log tonight my voltage (with the ignition on but not running showed 12.33 volts but it did start. I'm thinking I dropped below what voltage was needed to start out on the road.

Andrew.......Good point on sloshing corrosive stuff around when on the track. If I go to another Optima I think I'll try the red top this time for it's higher cranking power. Before I was looking for more reserve capacity but there lots of choices.

Alfajay which red top did you get 20 years out of?

Optima Batteries - Auto Parts Warehouse
sounds like the alternator is failing
 

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I have had mixed results with my Optima red tops, I think they don't last as long when the car just sits, but if you drive it enough they seem to do well. I recently had one no longer hold a charge after less than a year, full replacement was nice, tried all the charging tricks for it, but would only stay above 12 volts for a week. You can get an Optima style battery from others (Oreily's) for a discount, $120 - $140, I have one of these in my GF's car and it seems to do well. The small size and big power of the Optima is another benefit.
 

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Alfajay which red top did you get 20 years out of?
Well, it's the kind Optima was selling in 1994 (when I took the picture below I saw that the "94" square had been pulled from the sticker on the battery - so I exagerated - it's only 17 years old). I have heard that the Optima company changed hands once or twice, and that subsequent owners lowered the quality standards. My point being that whatever model I bought 17 years ago probably isn't available today.
 

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I have had mixed results with my Optima red tops, I think they don't last as long when the car just sits, but if you drive it enough they seem to do well.
This was my experience as well. For a daily driver with a good charging system they seem to work okay. But for something driven less frequently with a not-overpowerful alternator (like my '91 Spider) they seem to degrade a lot faster than a standard lead acid cell. Likely this is due to the fact that they're less tolerant of low charge states.

I like that they don't leak, as I've had batteries leak before and make a mess. But in the end I wound up going back to standard batteries.
 

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I am going to upgrade my alternator and have not decided on the new battery yet. I have had great results with odyssey dry cell batteries in my motorcycle and boat. I start the bike once every 6-8 months for the last 4-5 years for about 20 min. at a time. I never have a battrey tender on it and it has always started the bike - same battery in the boat it sits all winter and in the summer starts right up no charging needed. It has been years since I purchased them, they were more expensive but well worth it for the vehicles I do not drive often. Just not sure it s worth it for a car I'll drive year round and daily if weather permits. Review the warrranty regarding the ability to discharge and then accept new charge and over what time frame it is guarranteed to retain it.
ODYSSEY Batteries - Official Manufacturer's Site
 

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I use a battery-tender when I put her away for the winter...and get 5-8 years on an Interstate. The advantage of Interstate is that no-matter where I am, the warrentee can be honored...but I haven't had the need to use it. I also use Interstate on my boat, and same reason. I can't justify the cost of Optima...especially since I have always gotten my monies worth from Interstate.
 

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I'm no longer a fan of Optimas
When I started using them, in South Texas, a dozen years ago, they were priced at $100 and last 5 - 6 years. Recently, I have found them at what $160+ and had two fail after 3 years. I've since went to the Autozone better brand in my other two cars. However, I keep a Optima in the Alfa because of the acid concerns.

As far as I am concerned:
They just don't make em like they used to.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Thanks everyone for the help. I ended up buying a DieHard today mainly because Sears is close to me :eek:

sounds like the alternator is failing
Humm.....didn't think of that? The first time it wouldn't start was the second time I took the car out that day. The first time out the battery tender showed a full charge.

The second time it wouldn't start was when I took it for a drive after picking it up from the shop that rebuilt the axle, it was in the shop for 10 days without a battery tender. I noticed when I pick up the Spider it turn over slower then it usually does. The battery felt week in hind sight.

How would I check the alternator?


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Many chain auto parts stores (Advance Auto or AutoZone) will test them for free (keeping in mind they are hoping to sell you new parts...).

Or a simple voltmeter can be used. Connect it to the battery. A well charged battery should show ~ 12.6V with everything 'off'. Then start the car and see what it shows with the engine running ~ 2000 rpm. It should be 13.6-14.6V. It should remain fairly steady when you increase the rpm's. (It may return to battery voltage at idle.) If it reads higher than 14.8 the battery might be getting overcharged (can 'boil' away the electrolyte). Less then 13.4V may not be enough to re-charge the battery.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Many chain auto parts stores (Advance Auto or AutoZone) will test them for free (keeping in mind they are hoping to sell you new parts...).

Or a simple voltmeter can be used. Connect it to the battery. A well charged battery should show ~ 12.6V with everything 'off'. Then start the car and see what it shows with the engine running ~ 2000 rpm. It should be 13.6-14.6V. It should remain fairly steady when you increase the rpm's. (It may return to battery voltage at idle.) If it reads higher than 14.8 the battery might be getting overcharged (can 'boil' away the electrolyte). Less then 13.4V may not be enough to re-charge the battery.
Thanks Eric........I can check this via the laptop.

My Optima was showing 12.33V and that was with the ignition turn on (engine off) and this was after having to jump start the car earlier in the day? That's odd isn't it. But the big question is what it drops down to when cranking but I can see that in the logger too. My ECU has to have at least 10V or it will shut down...................on both non starts the started never turned, just a faint click.
 

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I bought a Red top Optima for my Spider about five years ago. I went through a new one for about three years in a row - each spring. Advanced Auto would just replace it, no adjustment because each time they were under a year old. Finally, I started using a maintainer and added a kill switch in the trunk.
Now if I keep the car "turned-off" they seem to hold on fro dear life. Wouldn't buy a new one. My Ranger came with a new Ford Battery in 2000.
Hasn't made a peep. Maybe Ford has a better idea in the battery department.
 
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