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Technical Battery Story/ Food for Thought

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by wicarnut, Sep 24, 2019.

  1. wicarnut
    Joined: Oct 29, 2009
    Posts: 3,468

    wicarnut
    Member

    Something to check if you are having any weird electrical problems. Here's one I chased recently, driving my car, would not turn over hot start, cool off, start, pull starter, it was new, had checked, was good, driving home from a show, hot day, starts running poorly, made it home, changed electric fuel pump, now seems to be OK, then alternator craps out, replace that, travel a distance, hot day, again no hot start, cool off, starts, WTF. Sat and thought about it, battery 1 year old , take and have it checked, junk battery, Walmart gives me a new one, N/C. I drive car a few times, same shit, no hot start, put 2 different digital voltmeters on alternator, it's not over charging, remembered to touch battery hot no start, was hot, have new battery checked, junk battery, get a refund from Walmart, purchased Oreillys best battery, car has been fine since. I posted this as I could saved myself a lot of work, aggravation if I thought to check battery sooner , In all my years of cars/batteries, never had something like this happen, they died completely in heat or winter with some age on them. So.............. guessing they (Walmart) have changed their supplier, have bought their batteries for years,
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2019
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  2. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 45,284

    squirrel
    Member

    Did you notice if it was made in Mexico or Canada? :)

    (never had problems with the Mexican ones we get down here, although they are distributed by Johnson Controls, based in WI)
     
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  3. wicarnut
    Joined: Oct 29, 2009
    Posts: 3,468

    wicarnut
    Member

    No, I did not look if they were marked or stickered. I buy some parts at Oreillys, know the manager pretty well, he's a car guy, he told me that their battery business has boomed this year due to Walmart battery failures.
     
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  4. Boneyard51
    Joined: Dec 10, 2017
    Posts: 3,806

    Boneyard51
    Member

    Another example of the “ cheaper is better” example of what’s going on in retail business.
    Batteries are one of the most misunderstood items in the automotive arena!
    Over my years of dealing with them, I have seen them do a lot if weird things.
    It’s usually not your first suspect, if it will start the car.......but it can still be the guilty party.....as wicarnut just mentioned!





    Bones
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2019
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  5. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 24,619

    Jalopy Joker
    Member

    had a battery blow up in a stock '60 Ford that never had any real problems with - was going through desert with high air temps stopped for gas, went to start it and there it went - another time had a Hot Rod 60's Chevy For Sale - started good/ ran fine - potential buyer comes over about dusk and we go for test ride with headlights on and the thing acts like it is running on 5 cylinders - bad battery - told buyer I would buy new battery or he could get one with a discount for his cost - buyer came back next day with a new battery and drove off
     
  6. My only battery story is when I had my first import truck, a 1970 model. One day I was driving and began to smell rotten eggs. I stopped, popped the hood, and lo and behold my battery was expanding and contracting just like in the cartoons. The battery was hot to the touch, so I left the hood up until it cooled somewhat. The battery was bone dry. I drove to the nearest water supply and filled the battery. No more problems after that.
     
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  7. gene-koning
    Joined: Oct 28, 2016
    Posts: 1,692

    gene-koning
    Member

    My 39 Dodge truck has developed a battery problem. If it sits for 4 days, the battery is dead. Charge it up and in 4 days, its dead again. Must be a drain on the battery, right? Can't find anything, no drain showing on my volt meter. I charged the battery for a couple hours (my charger is a 10/40/boost charger). Volt meter read 13 volts. So I pulled it out of the truck and took it to Farm & Fleet, to be tested. Its a little over a year old.
    They test it and tell me the battery is good, but low on charge. I tell them its been on a charger for 2 1/2 hours. The young man tells me the battery has to be charged for 24 hours! 24 hours on my charger will cook that battery.
    I took it home and put it on the charger for 8 hours, only came up to 13.6 volts. The next morning the voltage reads 12.6 volts. The battery is sitting on my bench with nothing hooked to it. Back on the charger another 8 hours. Voltage reads 13.6 again. This morning its back down to 13.1 volts. It will be interesting to see what the volt meter reads in the morning. I'm going to charge it back up and take it back to Farm & Fleet again. I'm not expecting that to go well.
    I've bought batteries from Farm & Fleet for years. This is the 2nd dead battery in the last 3 months from them. The last one was just out of warranty, this one is still in "free 2 year replacement" time.
    I don't believe a good battery should loose voltage sitting on a bench with nothing hooked to it in a couple days, but maybe that is also acceptable these days.... Gene
     
  8. Boneyard51
    Joined: Dec 10, 2017
    Posts: 3,806

    Boneyard51
    Member

    I memory serves me 12.6 is a fully charged battery. The 13.1 stuff is just a surface charge.





    Bones
     
  9. Funky batteries can make you nuts. Most I have seen have been bad right from the start. There is probably something touching or possibly loose inside, I've also seen foreign debris inside new batteries. I worked in one place, we always kept a few good used batteries on a trickle charge. We would swap those out to determine a bad battery issue.
     
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  10. VANDENPLAS
    Joined: Dec 14, 2009
    Posts: 2,232

    VANDENPLAS
    Member

    A battery is only as good as it’s weakest part
    One bad cell drops all the other ones down
    Static value really don’t mean squat
    Under load is what you want to look at
    A 12 volt battery showing 12 volts is dead
    A trickle charge over a long time is way better then a high amp charge
    Heat and vibration kills Batteties
    Lots of cells made in China and Korea now

    @squirrel hey don’t be poking fun at our long run time high capacity beaver pelt maple syrup batteties !!

    0A5A1BBE-7DF0-487C-8FAC-2A167D16E444.gif
     
  11. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 45,284

    squirrel
    Member

    I wasn't poking fun at Canadian batteries, I was curious to know where batteries sold in Wisconsin come from. There are a lot of batteries made in Mexico sold here in Arizona, they have worked fine for me, but I don't know if transporting them to Wisconsin is normal, or if they get batteries from somewhere else, up there.

    I do know that I can get smaller sealed lead acid batteries made in China for a great price...the whole world economics/transportation thing boggles my mind.
     
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  12. Friend of mine who owns a shop always tells me, "Batteries die in July, but don't fall over until January." I know that has nothing really to do with the issue at hand, but I just like the line.:)
     
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  13. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 45,284

    squirrel
    Member

    that's a clever observation.

    Heat is hard on them, but as long as the car is easy to start, you don't notice the reduced capacity. When it gets cold out, you do notice it.
     
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  14. Boneyard51
    Joined: Dec 10, 2017
    Posts: 3,806

    Boneyard51
    Member

    Surely, someone here on the HAMB is a battery guru and can give us schooling on batteries?
    While I understand batteries, fairly well, I don’t know the “ facts and figures “ enough, myself! I maintained a fleet of trucks, some with six batteries for over 33 years. So I became familiar with batteries!
    Maybe someone will help us out????





    Bones
     
  15. BJR
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 6,242

    BJR
    Member

  16. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 45,284

    squirrel
    Member

    Beware that the chart above applies to only one specific temperature....batteries are chemical devices, and chemical reactions are temperature dependent. But it's pretty helpful to show what voltage should be. Also note that the "surface charge" mentioned above will mislead you, if you measure the battery voltage without letting it sit for a while, with nothing connected to it.

    There are lots of places to read up on how lead acid batteries work. Here's one. But knowing the theory of how they work, will only get you so far when fixing old cars. There are some practical considerations that you kind of have to learn the hard way :)
     
  17. Marcosmadness
    Joined: Dec 19, 2010
    Posts: 350

    Marcosmadness
    Member
    from California

    When I was in the USAF turning wrenches on a C-130 four engine turboprop, we used to take the battery out of the airplane and to the hotel in really cold climates.
     
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  18. wicarnut
    Joined: Oct 29, 2009
    Posts: 3,468

    wicarnut
    Member

    A suggestion, Have your battery checked at O'reilly's, they put in their machine, charge it fully, then draw it down, simulated starting car, that's when the problem shows up on the condition of battery.
     
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  19. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    Don't ever buy a car that doesn't come with a handcrank in the trunk.
     
  20. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 3,984

    Truck64
    Member
    from Ioway

    The old school carbon pile testers have fallen out of favor somewhat for warranty service, and testing, in recent years, they use what are called conductance testers. These do a pretty good job of spotting defective batteries, but there is no substitute for testing under load. That's what a carbon pile tester does. The battery needs to be charged up before and after is one reason they aren't used as much.

    Can kind of do the same thing without a carbon pile by disabling the ignition and measuring the battery voltage across the terminals while cranking the starter over for 10 to 15 seconds. A serviceable battery won't drop below 9.6 volts, that's the cutoff. A good battery will exceed this by quite a bit, maybe hold just above 11 volts. Yes temperature requires a correction factor, these numbers are normalized at 80°F. but a load test of this kind will give an idea right away. Be sure to charge it back up.

    Even a little battery maintenance goes a long way. Keep the terminals clean, and tight. Keep the case itself clean too. Give it a boost charge now and then. If they sit around, especially half charged, they will sulfate quickly. As an experiment I decided to "baby" a 590 CCA conventional battery, the kind with filler caps, in an OT. Do they last any longer that way? Maybe. It's almost 7 years old. I charge it and/or keep it on a tender, had it tested at a shop on a long road trip this sprimg when getting an oil change. The guy brought out this fancy SnapOn wireless unit and said it tested at 720 CCA, he kept asking me "Did you recently charge this?" I said, well maybe last week sometime or something like that. How can I charge it on a road trip?
     
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  21. chopndrop
    Joined: Feb 8, 2005
    Posts: 703

    chopndrop
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Maybe 2 years ago, battery in my late model truck was about dead. I like to buy factory parts if possible, just makes me feel better, though I know they probably didn't make it anyway. Truck still had Motorcraft battery, priced out getting another. Too much. I remember @squirrel mentioned he just gets the cheap batteries at Walmart, so I figure if it's good enough for him, I'll give it a shot. Half price. Set new and old side by side, Walmart special looked exactly same as Motorcraft, except for the sticker of course, on exterior at least. Made by same place, maybe Johnson controls, don't remember right now. Let me sleep a little better at least. I know there are only a few main players in the lead acid car battery world.
    Perhaps Walmart has another supplier, or you got 2 from the same bad batch. Glad you got it sorted at least. Sucks getting duds right off the shelf.
     
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  22. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 9,946

    Atwater Mike
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Back in 1963, worked for Gene's Flying A Service, between jobs.
    A customer had a '55 Chev 4 dr. sedan, V8/ P.G. Battery was very weak, he was a Mexican gardener, large family, not $$ 'solvent'. A $45 battery was out of the question.

    I tested it cell-by-cell, the end one on the Negative side was dead. It was a 'tar-top type', so I drilled a 1/4" hole down into the plates, opposite the post. (diagonal, on the 'ground' side) Threading a 5/16" stud (metal screw thread on one end, U.S.S. thread on the other) I double nutted it and tightened it 'fast'. No movement.
    Now, chopped off the terminal clamp from ground cable, fitted a flat eye and tightened it between the nuts on the stud.
    Presto! 10 volt battery!
    Mr. Garcia said he'd be in for that new battery the following week. Long as I worked there, he came in for gas and oil changes. Gene and I got a kick out of him, he'd always say "Miracle Mike, saved me from the Battery Diablo!"
    Gene said Mr. Garcia was still coming in for gas 2 years later, same "10 Volt" battery.
    (Lucky that dead cell was on the end...)
     
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  23. Boneyard51
    Joined: Dec 10, 2017
    Posts: 3,806

    Boneyard51
    Member

    Truck 64, I agree with you on everything.....except one! Unless you are taking a bunch of short trips, charging your battery in the car serves, no purpose, if your charging system is up to snuff.
    A batterie’s life depends also on its charge cycle. That is if your car starts right up, on the first few turns, your battery will last a long time. If your car is a hard starter and has to grind for 45 seconds every time you start it, your battery will not last as long.
    Also batteries don’t like to be discharged..... the more they are discharged the less they like it.
    A brand new battery totally discharged and allowed to be in that condition for a period of time, will destroy the battery.
    Just a few points.





    Bones
     
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  24. 1ton
    Joined: Dec 3, 2010
    Posts: 357

    1ton
    Member

    East Penn batteries. made in usa and worth it.
     
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  25. I have had good luck with the cheap ones from Wallymart. One in the DD, wagon, Austin and lawn mower. No complaints........knock on wood. I have one in the four wheeler also.

    I do check the voltage in the store.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2019
  26. gene-koning
    Joined: Oct 28, 2016
    Posts: 1,692

    gene-koning
    Member

    The battery I took into Farm & Fleet had 12.86 volts (12 volt battery). Their machine said the battery charge was too low. According to their machine, a fully charged 12 volt battery has 14.6 volts. They gave me a handy printout! The best I can get this one to is 13.8 volts, and the next morning its back down to around 12.7 or 12.8 volts.

    I didn't have time to go back today, but will have to go back tomorrow. If they say a fully charged 12 volt battery has 14.6 volts, not being able to get this one past 13.8 must mean its defective, let alone the fact that the voltage drops at least a volt over night while the battery is sitting on my bench. Gene
     
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  27. Boneyard51
    Joined: Dec 10, 2017
    Posts: 3,806

    Boneyard51
    Member

    Better check Gene, your getting some bad info. All that other voltage is surface charge. It’s supposed to settle back down to 12.6 over night, or after the surface charge is gone.


    That 13/14 volts is for the charging system so that it can override the 12.6 volts and push electricity into the battery.


    Bones
     
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  28. pitman
    Joined: May 14, 2006
    Posts: 4,863

    pitman
    Member
    from Hampsha

    Found the Interstate batteries were reliable at reasonable cost. Made (at the time, 2008) in Tilton, NH
     
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  29. As long as it does not drop below 12.6 it should be OK. Never seen one sitting on the store shelf have much more than that. Found some that were much lower though.

    Boneyard beat me to it.
     
  30. manyolcars
    Joined: Mar 30, 2001
    Posts: 8,226

    manyolcars

    Damn
    Damn! I keep my hand crank behind the seat. If only I had known
     
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