Chassis Battery

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JoelP

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Nov 2, 2016
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687
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San Jose, CA
After a nice long life my Interstate chassis battery went end of life. It showed red with my hydrometer and wasn’t even able to charge up enough to put out the steps. I headed to Costco and bought the same model. To my surprise the new battery was sealed while the old one wasn’t. Even more surprising was that the old battery had a 6-67year warranty while the new one was only 36 months. So, are new batteries designed to give out sooner, or is this a business issue?

I have never owned a Trik L Start, but wondered if one of these would extend the life of a chassis battery. I maintain my house batteries with 100 watts of solar, so it would be easy to tap them to maintain my chassis battery, but experience has shown little issue with my chassis battery to date.
 

Mark_K5LXP

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Nov 17, 2018
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Albuquerque, NM
Are you sure it's sealed or does the case style just give the appearance of sealed? I just got a new costco/interstate Group 78 a few months ago, and while the top is flat there are still telltale vent tubes on the sides. No doubt that section pops off to expose the cells, though I haven't tried (yet). The sure test is to tilt it around a bit and listen for the slosh.

Used to be costco was a slam dunk for auto batteries having a non prorated warranty. Now the warranties are a year shorter and prorated after 24 months. Put the battery into a "truck" (RV) and presto, your warranty now just 6 months. They're still a good price for what you get but they've succumbed to the lowest common denominator. Many people don't own cars longer than their batteries last anyway, so they're "good enough".

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM
 

JoelP

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San Jose, CA
While I am not sure, I asked them at Costco and they told me it wasn’t designed to be opened. Of course, they could be wrong. They knew I was putting this into an RV. When I asked they told me 36 months with no conditions specified. Of course, I was already unhappy that it was half the warranty for the same model that I previously owned my. If it is a business issue, I am fine with it, but if they made the lead cells thinner that would be far less acceptable.
 

Mark_K5LXP

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Albuquerque, NM
I didn't ask about warranty specifically. They did ask what make and model vehicle it was going into and motorhomes were not on their drop down list. I recall on the receipt it said something like "2005 RV". I'm going by the warranty statement on their website which in part reads:

If a passenger car battery is used in a commercial vehicle, diesel vehicle (not including passenger automobiles and pickups), truck with a carrying capacity of more than one ton, lawn tractor, snowmobile, recreational vehicle, golf cart, or marine vehicle, the limited warranty is reduced to a free-replacement period of six months and a pro rata limited warranty period of one half the indicated life for that battery.

So how closely they pay attention to that or just treat all returns the same is another question. Over the years I've exchanged exactly two batteries there and neither time was I challenged as to what car they came out of. Back then though you didn't need a receipt, kinda like craftsman tools. But given it says "RV" right on the receipt, the warranty period may already be adjusted in their system, don't know.

It doesn't surprise me you'd be told the battery is not serviceable. That doesn't mean it isn't, they, being the manufacturer, don't want to deal with the attendant issues of having their end users dork with their products. "No user serviceable parts" or "refer service to qualified personnel" to me is an invitation to tear into it and figure it out. I recall the group 78 I took out of my RV had the same case style and pushing 6 years I didn't consider anything I would do to it would bring it back so I just replaced it. Odds are with this one having purchased it new I will likely pop the top after a few years and check on things. Just because they're sold as maintenance free doesn't mean they don't sometimes benefit from it, and historically I get 7 years out of any starting battery I buy and maintain so no doubt at some point I'll be opening it up.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Feb 2, 2005
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74,357
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At our Silver Springs FL home
Maintenance-free batteries aren't really sealed but they do not have removable caps either. And the warranty time is strictly a cost factor - the longer the warranty, the higher the price. Rarely is there any difference in the battery itself, especially if the time difference is 36 vs 60 months.

I think a Trik-L-Start would be a worthwhile addition for you. It can't hurt and might prevent discharging of the chassis battery during longer-term stays off grid.
 
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