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well, since they purchased Optima QC has gone downhill. I knew this first hand... but against my better judgment I purchased a group 34 yellowtop for the wife's '06 recently. it lasted just over 7 weeks and is stone dead as of this morning. just swapped the 51r oem brick which loadtested 300ish CCA on my Midtronics tester. funny part is I'm an interstate dealer and should have known better. I was careful not to disturb anything except the drivers door to open the hood and performed a draw test @ the negative terminal with my trusty fluke, and once the interior lights shut off it dropped to nearly nothing so the rear hatch wasn't left open/ajar (ask me how that works out... been there done that.) mod list to the vehicle? nada, only a remote start that was in the car for quite some time functioning on the stock battery before it was removed as preventive maintenance. and of course of all days to happen it was single digits and windy when i had to put the oem one back in, kinda glad i saved it.

not trying to say every optima gel cell on earth is junk, but I'm not impressed and having the health and welfare of your battery checked when your vehicle in for service would be smart. a starting and charging check along with maintaining your battery by keeping it and the terminals clean is always a good decision. I did all the above and it still failed... such is life.

 

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NAPA sells an Orbital that will fit. First one that lasted pretty well, but also wasn't $200 like they are now. Bought a red top, now wondering how long I can go, has been about a year.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
NAPA sells an Orbital that will fit. First one that lasted pretty well, but also wasn't $200 like they are now. Bought a red top, now wondering how long I can go, has been about a year.
i have an exide orbital blue top in my E, it's been in there quite some time, since '06 maybe? i'll have to search for my post when i installed it and replace the few month old rotten OEM battery cable that i got flamed for. there was a great debate between the skin effect and if the energy traveled through the cable and if corrosion made a difference. i stated simply if the bare copper strands are rotten and in 2 pieces, neither will occur. Interstate distributes Optima batteries, so they're one in the same and owned by Johnson Controls. but in my experience they're a quality product, they make most of Autozone branded batteries, and Deka makes some as well. it's my understanding that only 4 companies make lead acid batteries. Optima got bought by bean counters and ended up being an unwanted step child that no one cares about by the people that actually make the company go around, pretty sad to see happen to a small US company.
 

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NAPA sells an Orbital that will fit. First one that lasted pretty well, but also wasn't $200 like they are now. Bought a red top, now wondering how long I can go, has been about a year.
This Optima 34/78 red top went in Oct '05 at 75 K . . . it is now on it's 4th 0 deg F Winter @ 155 K and all is well :)

I also ditched the OEM cables and fabbed up new ends with better clamps.

Don't know if an '05 date code puts it in the "good" batch or not :?

I also have a Optima Blue top (on sale) in the Subaru; OEM battery died after 3 years. Installed this past April '09 and headed into it's 1st winter cycle; so we'll see how that goes . . . :| If it dies early, I'll probably look at the Excide/orbital and also give up on Optima.

 

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The biggest problem is that the Optima design fails to an open circuit without notice, whether that failure is five weeks or five years after purchase. Just [boom], no battery, and you can't jump-start with what has become, functionally, a brick.

Normal sandwich-plate designs will fail with one or two shorted cells, leaving you crippled but still somewhat operable.

Current QC issues or not, after five years of living with a Blue Top I advise strongly against Optimas as a primary battery. Let the audio guys mess with 'em, but start your car with a conventional Pb-HCl design.
 

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The biggest problem is that the Optima design fails to an open circuit without notice, whether that failure is five weeks or five years after purchase. Just [boom], no battery, and you can't jump-start with what has become, functionally, a brick.

Normal sandwich-plate designs will fail with one or two shorted cells, leaving you crippled but still somewhat operable.

Current QC issues or not, after five years of living with a Blue Top I advise strongly against Optimas as a primary battery. Let the audio guys mess with 'em, but start your car with a conventional Pb-HCl design.
Did you ever take advantage of the deep cycle (marine) specs on your Blue top ? I went with the blue top/deep cycle because I have a wiring scenario that allows it to re-charge through the 7 pin trailer wiring from a 3 stage/dual output charger in a small camping trailer (and vice-versa - allows the trailer to run from the car battery as a "back-up"; trailer has its own deep cycle).

I have already killed the new Blue top completely with an accidental key-in/blower-on-all-night scenario and it seems to have resurrected with a slow 3-stage (non alternator) recharge just fine. :oops:

I had a yellow top originally in the E (before the red top) that failed exactly as you describe - 1 year of service and a step function from "good" to "bad" :|

It seems most, if not all, of the premature failure reports against Optimas here on the EOC, are against Yellow tops which seem to be more targeted to deep cycle (audio)/2nd battery applications and are not really pegged as "starters" like the Red Top or Blue Top M.
 

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Well, the intent was to deep-cycle the Blue Top when I put it in to go along with communications gear, but that plan never really materialized. So it was basically serious overkill as a starter battery.

Frankly, I really liked it while it was working. I shoehorned-in the Group 31 size, and, with the extra capacity, never had the dimming lights problem, and winter starts were a breeze. I sorta kinda maybe ;-) knew about the open-circuit failure problem going in, but dismissed the "rumors" that it couldn't be possibly be a complete go/no-go scenario. It was.

Knowing batteries a little from playing with full-size electric cars, I can reverse-engineer into the knowledge that it's mostly just an artifact of the design, the failure likely from plate attachment tabs eroding. Some acquaintances have used Yellow Tops in their cars (multiples of 20 to 24) and like them because they don't gradually weaken, at least not as badly as flooded-cell does. With the fail-open problem, since D-I-Y repair is mandatory with electric cars, they can get home by jumpering around the open battery - they've only lost 5% of their range and run time.

I can't explain the Yellow vs. Red failure report ratio, other than possibly there is just more history with the Yellow Top since a lot of folks think they want the deep-cycle capability. [shoulder-shrug]

Anyway, when it comes to an ICE vehicle with the single starter battery? Unannounced hard failures, bad, crippled but runnable, good. I'll take "good".
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
oops, misprint, it's a D35 not a 34. slightly smaller @ 620cca. we'll see how long this next one lasts.... warrantied it no questions asked with a bad cell.
 
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