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Small battery driving you nuts? A BIGGER BATTERY FITS!

267497 Views 327 Replies 147 Participants Last post by  wannahonda
Check the date of this posting. It's old... practically ancient history in Internet time. Anyway, today's (early 2008 ) Optima is apparently not of the same quality as four years ago, although the packaging is the same. Accordingly, all of the below is caveat emptor.

I just put in an Optima "blue top" (marine spec) deep-cycle battery, in Group Size 31:

This battery is slightly wider, slightly taller, and about 3 inches longer than stock. It's rated 900 CCA (cold cranking amps), vs. 410 for stock, and 80 Amp-Hours, vs 45. It was not necessary to use the "blue top", but I wanted the extra terminals for other projects. The "yellow top" Optima D31A is the same battery.


1) The stock battery cover and tray/heat shield are removed.

2) You'll probably notice that the big plastic box to the right is missing in my photo (that's the intake resonator). The new battery is a tight fit with the resonator, but it will fit if you unclip the cable clamp from the bottom left of the battery tray.

3) The "blue top" negative (-) terminal was too far back. I had to re-route ground cabling and move some clamps to get it to work with the stock ground harness. This particular wiring is very simple (it's just 4 AWG) and could be duplicated.

3a) This is not a problem with the "yellow top" D31 - terminals are in the right places.

4) There is no holddown clamp in the photo. The stock clamps are about 1/8" too short and the bar is too narrow. A trip to AutoZone is in order for generic replacements. Do not drive your E without the battery clamped-down!

5) A "regular" Group Size 31 battery may not fit. Optimas are usually physically smaller than their spec.

6) At 60 pounds, this battery is double the weight of the OEM battery.

I bought the battery through for $139 plus $16 shipping. This was by nearly $40 the best price I could find anywhere for this size, which is the largest single-unit battery Optima makes.
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Will that size battery work if you have an intake system installed?
It could just be the angle of the pic, but I have the short ram from injen installed right now and the filter sits right behind the headlight, looks like it would be a tight squeeze. Also the pipe for the cold air intake system may not work with a battery that length. Then again it could just be the angle the pic was taken.
It might still fit, but obviously it's going to depend entirely on how they routed the intake tubing.

The key with this particular battery is that the width is the same as the width of the stock battery plus the cover; height is sort of a don't-care as long as you can still route the cables and close the hood.

Add 1" to 1-1/2" to the stock battery "box" on the fender side, and you'll get a good idea whether the Size 31 will fit with your intake.
Thanks for the post.

I've had a couple Optimas in my Del Sol, and according to all the specs it won't fit. But if you remove the clamps and drop it in it fits just fine, no where to go but up.

I'm good and ready to swap the battery in the Element. I've left the rear hatch open a couple times while parked in the garage and killed the battery. ( why doesn't it time out like the front dome light?)
The Del Sol was like that before I put in the Optima, but after I could leave the headlights on for hours and still be able to start it.

I had been pondering one of the new "smaller" group 51 Optimas, but the full size one is really the way to go.
I recently installed the smaller 51 Optima yellow top and the fit is exact. I agree the larger battery would be nice, but the one I installed has 500 CCA and 70 min reserve. That is better than the stock battery (which I've had nothing but problems with but that's another story) and I really needed something I "knew" would work, even with the CIA.
I can't understand why Honda did not install a larger battery to begin with, there seems to be plenty of room under the hood.
I can't understand why Honda did not install a larger battery to begin with, there seems to be plenty of room under the hood.
My theory with the Del Sol was that they only put just enough battery to get by. The tiny engine in that car could almost get by with a kickstarter, so not much was required.

The downside was you had little reserve should you want to use electric gadgets while the engine was off. An hour with the headlights on a cold day might be enough to hinder starting.

I have the 5 speed, so pushing is possible. I just pushed the Element six feet to get the slope of the driveway to do it the first time, but that's annoying.

Hmm.. wonder if I can re-use my Element's stock battery as part of my home network UPS? At least it's bigger than the gel cell I have now
>..wonder if I can re-use my Element's stock battery as part of my home network UPS?

Technically possible but not recommended. The stock battery is a conventional flooded (wet) cell design, and is subject to the problems with that technology - off-gassing (hydrogen), leakage and corrosive vapor. IOW, something you don't generally want to have in the house.

There's a lot more to "gel-cell" (matrix electrolyte) batteries than just the ability to mount in any position.
The D31A "yellow top" does indeed fit--barely! The negative cable was still tight. I later added a shutoff switch on the neg. post, which relieved the strain.

You can save the Honda battery to run ... a Game Boy!

Thanks, MikeQBF, for the find.
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I was used to a pickup truck with a shell on back and would leave the shell door open quite often on the truck and not think of it. As you point out, this leaves a light on in the Element that can drain the battery with time, and how often do you REALLY need that light?

I was thinking that even better than an irritating fade out light (fade just as you are loading some big item) would be a simple on off switch like the "dome light". So inspired by your post, I took a look at the light...


Already there. Just switched it off and will use the light as a "manual" light WHEN I need it.

Dang this is a nice vehicle for the money!!! I have owned a few cheap lower end vehicles in my day, because I prefer low end new cars to glitzed up used cars, and the Element does a nice job of putting in some well thought out appointments while still keeping the cost down.

Thanks for the post.

I'm good and ready to swap the battery in the Element. I've left the rear hatch open a couple times while parked in the garage and killed the battery. ( why doesn't it time out like the front dome light?)....
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what would be the advantage of a bigger battery? (considering that the e already comes with a battery that is doin' it's job and that the models discussed add a lot of weight)

i'm all for it -and the yellow looks very cool ;-)
>...what would be the advantage of a bigger battery?

Oh, gosh... like, isn't it obvious? More capacity means more starting "oomph" when it gets cold. Leave your lights on, and you have double the amount of time you had with the stock battery before you're stranded. Crank up the tunes when you're parked without worry. Don't close the rear hatch fully (which leaves the light on), and still be able to start it in the morning.

The stock battery is really small and has very little reserve for the normal "oopsies" of car ownership.
...that i would get some kind of >OMG isn't that obvious, dude...<replies here with that kinda question :oops:

well, thanks Mike, as always appreciated :D

i guess i was just a little spoiled then, that question had never come up before with my previous two cars

(i'll probably go and get one, the yellow one seems to be a good choice)
Hi folks

I've been following the "Battery" posts for a while now. I agree that the starting power of the stock battery is not up to par for northern climates. Southern climates the stock battery is just fine for startup and normal running. Of course my dealer says my battery is up to spec at 487 Cold Cranking Amps.

My E is just one year one this month so this is my second winter with it. I live in New England and the winters can get a little cold. American Honda does not offer any optional battery, like Honda Canada does. I do not need the deep cycle features of the 60 pound D31 series Optima.

Surprise, Optima now makes a Red Top 34 series "starting" battery.<br>Starting+Batteries

Optima Part Number : 34-1050
BCI Group Size : 34
Voltage : 12
Cold Cranking Amps @ 0° F : 800
Cranking Amps @ 32° F : 1000
Reserve Capacity Minutes : 110
Amp Hour (20 Hour Rate) : 50
Dimensions(Maximum Overall)
Length : 10"
Width : 6 7/8"
Height : 7 13/16"

Only 15 lbs more that the stock "small" battery but is has 800 Cold Crank Amps should get me thru a few 0° F days.

I have order one of these from REMY and I hope to be installing it next weekend.

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Winter sports concern

I am knew to this "not enough battery" concept. My last vehicle had a heavy duty truck battery, so never an issue. Now I'm wondering about my upcoming winter sports adventures. Could I possibly find myself stranded at the end of the day? My adventure of choice is backcountry skiing or snowshoeing--as far away from any semblance of a ski resort as possible. So if I park my E down some obscure forest road for a day in, say 20 degree weather, will it start when I get back to it? I'm ultra concerned because I can assure you--cell phones DO NOT work out there. And the chance of a passerby giving you a jump is equally unlikely.
bring a spare battery...

these things are also good
Re: Winter sports concern

DOGBOX said:
Could I possibly find myself stranded at the end of the day?
You bet! See my post on Dec 7, 2004:

Herc driver
Good grief

One more thing to worry about. Being stranded where I go could mean serious trouble. Good thing I still own the truck. I was just getting ready to donate it off.
Years ago I had a Trooper II, one the first Isuzu brought into the USA. The battery failed me several times during the first winter. For at least one cold Chicago night I took the battery out of the car, and brought it inside the house. On a winter camping trip, I put the battery in a plastic bin, and warmed it with water warmed on my camping stove. So there are ways of dealing with a cold but otherwise functional battery.

Since I'm reasonably careful about using the lights and radio, my main concern: just how cold does it have to get, before the stock battery fails to have enough cranking power to start the Element's engine? Some said it has the same size battery as the Civic. Just how much more power does the Element's engine need than the Civic's? What is the size of the Element's battery compared to the CRV or Accord?

It is also worth keeping mind that while a given battery may do well the first winter, by the 4th its capacity is dropping.

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Temperature for failing

That was also my question. Because I don't consider 25 degrees terribly cold. In any true winter environment, that is actually quite a normal temp. I would not be surprised to hear of small batteries failing at zero degrees or less. But not even having enough crank power at 25 degrees seems pretty deficient.
The fact that Honda has used this size battery with this size engine for several years at least (when did the CRV get the 2.4L?) suggests that the 51R size is fine for most people. The fact that it is the same size as the one on the Civic may not be all that significant, after all, how much more cranking power does a 2.4L engine need than a 1.9L? Is the accessory load on an Element any greater than on a typical Civic?

However there are a number reasons why a battery might not be fully charged, and most people who have owned cars in cold weather have been bitten by them - greater use of headlights, short trips, greater use of the fan. About the only drain on a battery that is less likely in winter is enteraining the neighborhood with the Element's great sound system.

It would be good to hear if anyone else has had problem starting their Element after it sits idle for 5 or more days during the winter.

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