Optima Red Top Battery Premature Failure

glcaines

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Big surprise yesterday. I tried to start my MEP003A generator yesterday as part of my monthly test. No Go. I ran the generator last month and the starter turned the engine very fast. I keep a 24 VDC maintenance battery charger hooked up 100% of the time, except when the generator is running. The front Red Top read 7.8 VDC, basically dead. The rear Red Top read 13.15 VDC, fully charged. Both batteries were purchased at the same time from O'Reilly Auto Parts on January 8, 2020, so both were still covered by the three year full replacement warranty. I had always been told that when using two 12 VDC batteries in series that both should be replaced at the same time and that not doing so would result in overcharging one battery and that the older battery would drain energy from the new battery. O'Reilly refused to replace the battery that still tested good and said that it was Optima policy to only replace the one bad battery. O'Reilly replaced the bad Optima Red Top with a new one, without problem. With the initial purchase, O'Reilly gave me a 10% Veterans discount of $45.00 which was great. Now that the replacement Red Top is installed, my generator spins over fast again. I just hope the older remaining battery not only lasts but doesn't cause harm to the new one.

Prior to the Optima Red Tops I had installed two Exide Orbital batteries in August 2009. Those Exide Orbitals lasted over ten years , until January 8, 2020 - excellent service. I'm very disappointed in having one of the Optima Red Tops fail in only 19 months when the previous Exide Orbital batteries lasted 149 months.
 

Triple Jim

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Interesting story. As much as I've tried, I've never been able to correlate battery brand or battery cost with battery life. A couple Walmart Everstart Maxx group 24 batteries lasted nine years in my 003A, and I've never put a charger on them. I just run the generator once a month if I can remember.
 

Coug

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You might be better off to have 12v maintenance chargers, one for each battery, rather than a single 24v maintainer.

I've heard of a lot more failures with them since they moved their manufacturing to Mexico. Optima used to be one of the best, now they're just a premium import, and well below the best domestic batteries.

edit: you also want to make sure the maintainer is designed for AGM batteries, as they charge/maintain at a different level than flooded lead acid batteries do
 
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glcaines

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You might be better off to have 12v maintenance chargers, one for each battery, rather than a single 24v maintainer.

I've heard of a lot more failures with them since they moved their manufacturing to Mexico. Optima used to be one of the best, now they're just a premium import, and well below the best domestic batteries.

edit: you also want to make sure the maintainer is designed for AGM batteries, as they charge/maintain at a different level than flooded lead acid batteries do
The 24 VDC maintainer is a good one, designed for AGM batteries. I agree and will start using a separate maintainer for each battery.
 

FloridaAKM

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I had two red top Optima batteries in my first Deuce back in 2014 that came with the truck when it was auctioned. They lasted 5 more years till one died & the other went on the shelf. When my Toyota battery died unexpectedly, I installed the remaining red top in it as a quick fix, & ran it for two more years till it started slowing down & it was replaced with a new Exide battery.

Since being made in Mexico, all I hear is how bad the Optima batteries have become, so I will not waste money on expensive junk!
 
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Coug

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My battery of choice at this point is NorthStar.
U.S. manufacture.
The ones in my HMMWV were bought through BatteriesPlus, and have a 5 year full replacement warranty.
 

glcaines

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I've had excellent luck with Interstate batteries, including 6TLs. I have Interstate AGMs in two John Deere tractors and a Triumph TR6 car. The ones in my tractors are around 8 - 9 years old and the one in the car was in it when I purchased it almost 8 years ago. All are going strong. I think I won't purchase another Optima battery. I contacted Optima by E-mail about my bad battery. They replied in writing that indeed, not replacing the second battery will decrease the life of both the new one and the old one, but they won't replace the second battery under warranty. They want me to purchase a new second battery so that they are the same age. No way will I pay to replace the second battery. Hopefully, if the second battery fails, it will do so soon so that it will be covered under the 3 year warranty.
 

MixManSC

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I've had excellent luck with Interstate batteries, including 6TLs. I have Interstate AGMs in two John Deere tractors and a Triumph TR6 car. The ones in my tractors are around 8 - 9 years old and the one in the car was in it when I purchased it almost 8 years ago. All are going strong. I think I won't purchase another Optima battery. I contacted Optima by E-mail about my bad battery. They replied in writing that indeed, not replacing the second battery will decrease the life of both the new one and the old one, but they won't replace the second battery under warranty. They want me to purchase a new second battery so that they are the same age. No way will I pay to replace the second battery. Hopefully, if the second battery fails, it will do so soon so that it will be covered under the 3 year warranty.

Wait a month or two. Then take the other older one out and hook it up to something and just leave it on until it kills it. That is not something I'd generally endorse doing but if they support running two in series or parallel then their warranty should cover the set if one were to fail in my opinion.
 

glcaines

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I'm still fighting with Optima about replacing the second Red Top battery. They absolutely agree that series connections of a 1-1/2 year old battery with a new battery will shorten the life, but they still state it isn't their policy to replace the second battery.
 

Mullaney

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I'm still fighting with Optima about replacing the second Red Top battery. They absolutely agree that series connections of a 1-1/2 year old battery with a new battery will shorten the life, but they still state it isn't their policy to replace the second battery.
.
That's customer service.
Yep, with a tilt to they don't care.

The part that kills me about that sort of thing is that the leadership in those companies can't understand why building their product off-shore for less isn't making them tons more money. Their company giving crummy service doesn't affect them. Why? Because some mid-level manager takes care of the boss's failed imported product in his OR her personal vehicle.

Don't get me wrong., making a dollar is good. Money is good.
Crummy Service and I Don't Care about your problem - well - THAT is a problem! Might even be THE problem...
 

Coug

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I'm still fighting with Optima about replacing the second Red Top battery. They absolutely agree that series connections of a 1-1/2 year old battery with a new battery will shorten the life, but they still state it isn't their policy to replace the second battery.
From one point of view though, the amount that it will shorten it would be to approximately equal life of the other battery, thus the batteries will still have the expected lifespan of those that were originally purchased.

On one hand I can see the argument that if one failed they should both be replaced, but most warranties only require that the replacement be equal quality of the part that failed.

The battery that's there and 1.5 years old isn't going to be adversely affected by putting in a new battery. If all goes well the pair of batteries will last beyond the full period of warranty at this point. That's all the warranty is there for anyway.
 

Karl kostman

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I did not realize that Optima had moved it mfg to Mexico? I ran Optima batteries in my airplane and got 12 years out of it and in a plane that is unheard of. When I finally had to replace them it hurt a bit at 600.00 each to replace the two batteries. My boat is also running two Optima batteries one a Red top and the other a blue top and Donzi the builder of the boat has the most beautiful battery hold down system I have ever seen and it EXACTLY FITS ONLY OPTIMA BATTERIES!!!! Certainly makes me wonder a bit about that! I use Interstate batteries in virtually every truck and car that I own and my fishing boat and pontoon also run Interstate, and they are half the price or less than Optima!
 

glcaines

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Optima batteries are only manufactured in Monterrey, Mexico. Johnson Controls, the previous manufacturer of Optima batteries spun off that group into a company called Clarios. Clarios is headquartered in Glendale, Wisconsin, but all of their battery manufacturing is in Mexico. The Optima Red Top product was the first battery model where 100% of manufacturing moved to Mexico. Clarios hides the Mexico connection with almost all documentation, etc. listing the Wisconsin headquarters address. You can read the details at: When Did OPTIMA Batteries Move to Mexico? | OPTIMA Batteries
 
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