('14-'18) 2015 Forester dead battery mystery - Subaru Forester Owners Forum
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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old 01-30-2018, 10:43 AM Thread Starter
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2015 Forester dead battery mystery

2015 Forester bought late 2014, base model with heated seats, nothing special, no after-market.
We don't drive often, and we travel, so it's not unusual for the car to go 2-3 weeks without being driven.

1. Car worked fine for a year or so (Oregon, mild weather). One day, we turned on the seat heaters and didn't think to turn them off while shopping (car was off). Came out, the car wouldn't start. Got a jump from a Good Samaritan. Fine after that.
2. Had the car shipped from Oregon to Virginia in Jan 2017. On arrival, car started with some difficulty. After that, it died on a regular basis. Got the battery tested at a private shop, they said it was a problem, got the battery replaced at the dealer. Generally worked after that.
3. Fall 2017, battery started failing on a regular basis, to the point where I bought a portable jump starter to save time. Took it to the dealer, they said the cargo light (which I'd never noticed) had been on.
4. Battery continued to fail. Back to the dealer, they said "It's fine. These Foresters have crappy batteries." Battery continued to fail. Took it to a private shop, they said "It's fine." I've gone over the car thoroughly - no lights of any kind are on or remain on. But the battery doesn't hold a charge for more than about 2-3 weeks.

I'd welcome any advice. Is this really just a crappy Subaru battery? Note, I'm not much of a car guy and don't have so much as a multi-meter, so probably ideas more than suggestions to test things.

Bonus question - during one of the many times I've used the jump starter (which works great), I lost the red plastic positive terminal cover. Is it important to replace that?

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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old 01-30-2018, 11:59 AM
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A battery should hold power longer than 2-3 weeks so, yes, seems like a crappy battery. What brand and model is the battery? Do you know cold cranking amps (CCA) or AMP Hours rating (AH)?

If a battery has been flattened several times it can really shorten its life.

If leaving the car for long periods maybe leave it on a trickle charge so you can be assured that it will start on demand.

Bonus answer - not important to replace the cap - just that more care is needed when working around the battery to prevent a short.


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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old 01-30-2018, 12:11 PM
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Best option is to take the car to a chain auto parts store and they will test the battery and charging system free (with the hopes of selling you a new battery).

OEM battery is weak and not driving the vehicle much does not help battery life. For $5 at the dealer I would replace the red cover. It's not mandatory but I like having them on.
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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old 01-30-2018, 01:02 PM
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If your subbie is in an enclosed garage, try the following.




This will keep your battery fully charged but will not fix your problem.

If you know someone handy with a multi-meter/trusted mechanic, you might want to ask them to perform parasitic draw test. It is possible that you have something drawing current when your car is off.

That being said, I have had similar issues with one of our cars. Rarely driven and lots of electronics. I know my way around a multi-meter and know that my alternator is supplying enough amps to the battery. There is no parasitic draw. Yet during the winter, every month, I hook up my battery to the trickle charger for 10 hours or so. The battery is very good, but I drive with headlights on all the time, heated seats on, radio on, etc. My guess is that the system was not designed to be used the way I use it. I would rather charge overnight once a month than run risk of not having car start on cold day.

It seems your car has an OEM battery and is not driven regularly. I would get a high quality battery. If the problem continues, get a parasitic draw test. If the draw test comes back normal, then either change your driving habits or get the trickle charger.
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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old 01-30-2018, 01:04 PM
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There are a number of threads on energy "vampires" I think they are called. Something like the Battery Minder might be worth having. It is designed to top off batteries that sit... Think farm tractors and stuff...
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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old 01-31-2018, 05:54 AM
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All good points made.
Your problem may be a combination of a battery that's been beaten down through several deep discharges and an abnormal parasitic draw.
It doesn't take much of a draw on power to drain a battery if it is left without a charge source for weeks at a time, especially if it's cold out.
Lead acid batteries also self discharge when not in use, even without a draw on them.
That being said, it should last two or three weeks.
As another tester said, take it for a free stress test. Your "new" battery went dead, so it isn't in "new" condition...
I'd suggest an "intelligent" trickle charger like the Battery Tender Jr.
It won't overcharge your battery and can be left on indefinitely. It comes with a quick disconnect you leave on your battery.
It takes only a few seconds to connect it when you park. I have one on my motorcycle I use whenever I park it.
Even if you don't have the car in an enclosed space, you can still use it by connecting it up with an outdoor rated extension chord.
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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old 01-31-2018, 12:22 PM Thread Starter
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All,

Thanks very much for the input. It seems to confirm that there is something wrong with the battery, but that the original Subaru battery was crap to begin with. I've contacted Subaru again to see if I can get satisfaction from them. If that doesn't work (and I do think they should do something), I'll start looking into the other solutions proposed (battery tender or new battery).

It's a shame, though. I and friends have owned a lot of Subarus, and this is the first real problem I've had.
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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old 01-31-2018, 03:06 PM
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The stock battery in my 2014 was garbage, always struggled to start and died on me a few times after sitting for a 2-3 days. I have had 0 problems since I bought a Duralast AGM.
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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-01-2018, 07:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evil_Overlord View Post
All,

Thanks very much for the input. It seems to confirm that there is something wrong with the battery, but that the original Subaru battery was crap to begin with. I've contacted Subaru again to see if I can get satisfaction from them. If that doesn't work (and I do think they should do something), I'll start looking into the other solutions proposed (battery tender or new battery).

It's a shame, though. I and friends have owned a lot of Subarus, and this is the first real problem I've had.
If you don't have an extended warranty, I'm not sure what "satisfaction" you expect to get, and batteries are typically an excluded wear part in every car ever made except for battery powered cars.
Leaving your accessories/lights on and killing the battery is not a manufacturing defect.
That will happen to any battery in any car.

Nothing said on the replies actually confirms anything - anecdotal testimony is not a confirmation of what your problem is... but frequent discharges to a "dead" state by leaving your lights on will cause damage.
I noticed you never mentioned charging your battery after it went dead.
Batteries that go dead should ALWAYS be recharged to prevent damage.

If your battery stress test results are okay, replacing it is no guarantee of anything except spending money on another battery.
If your battery is marginal, you might be okay with a replacement, but this is not for certain to address an unknown issue.
A battery with a higher amperage will take longer to discharge, but it will also go dead if there is a significant drain on it.
A parasitic drain test will easily identify that issue. It is a very simple test, and you should do that before you replace a battery, or risk killing it.
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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-06-2018, 07:38 AM
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What's the latest experiences with AGM batteries? 390CCA is pathetic so I'm thinking of proactively replacing mine with a Duracell AGM Group 35 from Sam's. I've seen some AGMs list a pretty low peak operating temperature though..some around like 115F....I'm positive it would see higher temps than that on hot days...but not sure if that's going to lead to premature failure or if it's mostly a moot point.

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post #11 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-06-2018, 11:35 AM
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Thankfully the OEM battery in my Forester died last week which gave me a valid reason to buy a decent replacement. The stock battery with 390 CCA (cold cranking amps) is pretty weak, especially if you try cranking at subzero temperatures (the synthetic oil helps). I replaced the puny 390 CCA battery with a 650 CCA battery. Cranking speed is much faster and I am very pleased. Just waiting for the same battery to die in my Crosstrek so I can replace it.
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post #12 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-06-2018, 01:26 PM
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Iím just another owner who barely got three years from the OEM battery. Yes, the OEM battery is crap, but I didnít make a claim with Subaru because I did flatten it myself three times (twice leaving a map light on overnight, which should be made impossible to do, IMO). The third time was while I was actually sitting in the car with the ignition on but the engine not running while I worked with the carís settings, the Bluetooth pairing, and listening to music ó not realizing the headlights were on (it was daytime). This too should not be possible, IMO.

So, yeah, my fault, but a less marginal battery would have done better. And while I appreciate that Subaru, less than other manufacturers, does not assume its owners are stupid, an auto-shutoff on the map light (even when manually turned on) isnít too much to ask, is it?
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post #13 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-08-2018, 03:04 PM Thread Starter
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I've had a long and unsatisfying discussion with Subaru. Their view - you're out of warranty. Which I am now - because for months they've said "your battery is fine". They've suggested I go back to the dealer for a battery test - which of course I've already done several times. Subaru's argument - not holding a charge for three days is perfectly normal.

So, I'm not happy. Maybe I'll buy a new battery as several of you have suggested. But so much for my love affair with Subaru. When I bought this car, they were the only real contender. Next time, they'll be far down the list.
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post #14 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-08-2018, 03:39 PM
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My stock battery on my 2014 has worked just fine for over four years and is dependable. I just replaced it with the Consumer Reports choice, the Walmart Everstart Max group 35N, just as a catch it before I have problems action.
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post #15 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-08-2018, 03:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evil_Overlord View Post
I've had a long and unsatisfying discussion with Subaru. Their view - you're out of warranty. Which I am now - because for months they've said "your battery is fine". They've suggested I go back to the dealer for a battery test - which of course I've already done several times. Subaru's argument - not holding a charge for three days is perfectly normal.



So, I'm not happy. Maybe I'll buy a new battery as several of you have suggested. But so much for my love affair with Subaru. When I bought this car, they were the only real contender. Next time, they'll be far down the list.

I wouldnít last one week in the customer service field without being fired.



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