Reader Question: Dying Battery?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Vanessa writes: I bought a 2014 Acura RDX new for its supposed reliability (long daily commutes) and am now dealing with a continually dying battery which leaves me stranded and for which the dealer assures me there is nothing wrong as they run the diagnostics and can’t find a problem.  Reviewing the Internet, it appears I’m not the only one with dying battery issues and poor Acura service.

So, my question is: Which of the car makers provide the best after-sale customer service?  Shouldn’t that be part of the info provided when reviewing their cars? I see lots of new car reviews, initial build quality reviews, and some long-term quality reviews. But I keep my cars until they die and I’m hoping my next one lasts longer than five years. I want old-fashioned customer service. And, of course, that includes consideration as to the ease and price of making any inevitable repairs.

These dealers nowadays have clean and shiny shops, free water bottles, and smiling employees, but god forbid you want to actually speak with the mechanic. If you ask the “customer service agent” what was done to your car, they just read you the invoice as if you’re illiterate. I’ve used a very good local mechanic, but for something like complex electrical issues, it seems the dealers should theoretically be in a better position to diagnose and support their products.

I’m seriously considering trading the RDX for a new or used CX-9 or maybe a Highlander, but want to know who will best take care of me after the sale if/when problems arise Inquiring minds want to know.

My reply: I have a friend who has a Subaru (older model) with a similar problem. In her case, if the key is left in the ignition switch for more than a half hour or so, the battery will die. The key is not in the “run” or “accessory” position. It is merely in the lock. Apparently, this creates a small electrical draw somewhere – which the Subaru dealer has not been able to trace. So she has learned to avoid leaving the key in the ignition.

In your case: I’m assuming we have eliminated an older/tired battery that can’t hold a charge and/or a weak alternator… if not, those two are the first things to have someone check. If the problem continues with a new/known good battery and known good alternator, then you have an issue similar to my friend’s – a current draw somewhere inside the car’s guts, like leaving the radio on all night long.

In theory, it should be possible to figure out what the problem is; in fact, modern cars are so complex that it’s often very challenging to suss out gremlins such as this.

If your current dealer/mechanic isn’t getting it done, I’d try another.

As far as customer service: Keep in mind that dealers are franchises; they are not the car company; they just sell that company’s cars. Some are better than others when it comes to service and everything else.

I know it’s frustrating, but your Acura is probably a good vehicle – Acuras generally are – and if the annoying problem can be figured out and fixed, you will likely love your Acura once more.  I’d try another shop before giving up on the RDX.

Please keep us posted!

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve had batteries that would go back and forth between charged and dead with no apparent reason. Drives you crazy looking for something else wrong!

    A five year old battery could well be done. At this point, the cheapest solution might just be spending $125 or so for a new battery and see if the problem re-occurs. Mechanic diagnosis time could easily exceed that and still maybe not find the problem. If it is a short when the car is turned off, then at least you will be starting with a new battery good for another 5-7 years.

    Keep in mind ALL vehicles from the last 2 or 2 decades have some battery draw when switched off. It ain’t like my old trucks that I could park in October and start them right up in April after sitting in 40 below.

  2. Not sure why you think an independent mechanic would be less capable. After all, that mechanic depends on a good name and the old stealership runaround won’t get him anything but trouble and looking for customers.

    It’s a no-brainer to figure out if your battery is good, just about any place like O’Reilly’s or Autozone will check it for free and the alternator too. IF it is a problem of something draining your battery I’d definitely check with a professional who sees all sorts of problems like this every day.

    I’ve had one vehicle in my life that had a warranty. I detested using their shop. My pickup had a feature of having the revs drop slowly between gears. It worked fine until it was in the shop for a radio problem at which time they did a tune-up. After that the revs wouldn’t fall for a few seconds and that was a real PITA. After a few days it would return to the way it had been……thankfully. Next time it was in the shop being dried out after diving into deep rushing water at 3 am going down my drive that had been level and dry the day before(long story). Once again, I got it back doing the old rev thing. It would finally return to doing things correctly. I had an argument with the mechanic who did the tune-up who told me about this feature. I already knew about the feature and told him when it stayed at the same rpm for a few seconds when I tried to change gear that wasn’t the same thing as the engine not dropping revs instantly. He got mad and I did too. That was my end of stealership service and good riddance to the aholes. I bought a manual for the truck and did my own wrenching after that. FEFEFH’s.

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