Cars

Should a battery fail on a 2-year-old vehicle?

John Paul, AAA Northeast's Car Doctor, answers a question from a reader dealing with a dead battery in a 2020 vehicle.

The Honda HR-V Sport. Honda

Q. I own a 2020 Honda HR-V and had to call AAA yesterday due to a dead battery. The car has about 4,500 miles on it and I did not leave anything on. It was below freezing yesterday, but shouldn’t a battery work in cold weather when the car isn’t that old? 

A. The average life of a battery in the northeast is just about five years, and I would expect the battery in your 2020 Honda to start in any weather. The issue may be how little you drive the car. If you are driving short distances, the battery may not be fully recharging after each trip. Driving the same multiple short trips over time can lead to a discharged battery. At this point the best thing to do is have the battery fully recharged and then tested. To keep the battery fully charged, drive the car for at least 30 minutes, once per week. 

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Q. I have a 2007 Cadillac SRX. About a year ago the key would not go into the lock position where it could be removed. I had to disconnect the battery when I parked the car, or the battery would eventually be drained. I brought the car to a local repair shop to have it repaired and paid about $300 to $400. Now it’s doing it again and the key won’t come out of the ignition switch. I originally thought it was a linkage adjustment issue. The shop said it’s an electrical issue and they could only do so much. Any ideas?

A. This is not going to be simple; the vehicle should be checked for computer codes first. If codes are found, a very specific procedure needs to be followed to troubleshoot the issue. The issue may be caused by an ignition power feed to the car’s computer. Voltages need to be checked in several circuits. Intermittent issues may be caused by a faulty relay or even a faulty computer. 

Q. I recently inherited a 2010 Chevy Malibu with 6,000 original miles on it. The car is essentially all original with the exception of the battery. The tires look brand new, but based on what you have said in the past, I’m guessing I should replace them. What else should I do? 

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A. Replacing 12-year-old tires makes sense for both safety and ride quality. I would also check all the vital fluids and change as needed. If it were my car I would change the brake fluid, coolant, thermostat, and drive belts. Also, I would check the brakes and lubricate the caliper slides. It is not usual to perform repairs to very low mileage cars. As the other services are being performed, have the technician give the car a thorough inspection to see if there is any else that needs attention. 

Q. I’m in the market for a small SUV, I have friends with an Audi Q5 and BMW X3. I have driven them both and they just are not for me. I recently read about the Cadillac XT4. Have you driven this SUV, and what did you think? 

A. The Cadillac XT4 is a very nice, small luxury SUV, but not quite perfect. Although beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I thought Cadillac absolutely nailed the styling. The interior is well designed, quite roomy for a small vehicle with comfortable seats and good controls. Cadillac did a great job of having the “right” number of buttons combined with a very intuitive touch screen. The engine has plenty of pep, but does get a bit noisy when pushed hard. The ride was comfortable but just a bit jittery over uneven roads. Overall, the Cadillac SUV is a competent, comfortable compact luxury SUV. 

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John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over 40 years of experience in the automotive business and is an ASE-certified master technician. E-mail your car question to [email protected] Listen to Car Doctor on the radio at 10 a.m. every Saturday on 104.9 FM or online at northshore1049.com.

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