Battery Question

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  #1  
Old 08-11-05, 03:25 PM
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Battery Question

I have a battery which has a built in hydrometer which is normally supposed to show green and has been doing so for the last few years. However, it has now gone dark. According to the service manual this means that it has less then 65% of the full charge. However, everything is working normally from what I can see - I guess the alternator is charging as I do not see any indication to suggest otherwise. Cranking appears to be normal and the voltage across the battery terminals (with engine off) is around 13V. Should I be concerned. Is the battery on its way out. The manual says not to load test the battery when the eye is dark but it shows no sign of becoming green again - has been this way for the last 2 weeks or so.

Any ideas?
 
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  #2  
Old 08-11-05, 05:30 PM
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If you live in the northern half of the country, where the temp goes into the twenties or lower in the winter, and if your battery is more than three years old, you may want to start saving your pennies. When the cold comes, the battery will have to work harder to start a cold engine, and cold reduces the power of the battery. If it's on it's last legs, it will probably die with the first cold snap.
 
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Old 08-11-05, 05:33 PM
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Luckily I live in the south Here in San Diego it gets a bit cold in the winter but that's about it. Maybe I should get a new battery. It is actually about 6 years old (same age as car)
 
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Old 08-11-05, 07:12 PM
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That eye only covers one cell of your battery. Luckily you live in a mild climate to get 6 years is good, the extreme heat and extreme cold kills them. At this time of year where you are it does not take a lot of Cold cranking Amps to fire up a car. I had one that was running on less than 300 CCA a couple of months ago before summer hit in SC. Ther are many places that will check it for you , I prefer the ED-18 ask around someone near you uses one.
 
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Old 08-11-05, 07:13 PM
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Thans for the reply - are you talking about running a load test.
 
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Old 08-11-05, 09:08 PM
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With a six year old battery I would say you have gotten your money's worth out of it.
 
  #7  
Old 08-11-05, 10:25 PM
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I see a number of replacement batteries at the local atuo parts store with warranties of 6-8 years. Are these warranties for real if they are not expected to last that long.
 
  #8  
Old 08-12-05, 03:31 AM
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Talking

That is a prorated warrenty. Most have 18 to 36 month free replacement, the 36 month free replacements are hoping that you will forget and just buy another or as in the case of ------- they get them so cheap they just hope you come in the store.
 
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Old 08-12-05, 04:30 AM
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After 6 years with an OEM battery, it will not be wasted money to buy a new one
It's one of those items that can leave you stranded
I wouldn't bother with a test at this point

The warranties are really a marketing tool to upsell people who want a cheap battery (a reason to spend more)

If you buy a quality battery that won't be an issue
Again, the reason is that by the time you notice the failure, you're stranded
The $60 DieHard (or other quality battery) is worth every penny
 
  #10  
Old 08-12-05, 05:09 AM
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the eye on the battery commonly quit working on most all of them due to small particles coming off the plate inside the battery which causes the eye to go dark this can happen very early in the batteries life.
this doesnt mean the battery is bad in anyway but only a load test will determine if the battery is still up to par and at 6 years old it probably wont last much longer although I have seen one delco battery last 8 years.
 
  #11  
Old 08-12-05, 12:11 PM
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get new battery

6 years is a very long time for a battery the green eye you see only shows one cell your battery is living on borrowed time.One day when you least expect it it will let you down.
 
  #12  
Old 08-12-05, 02:48 PM
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Hmmm..lots of opinions but the general advice seems to get a new battery. I have been let down by failing batteries before but I generally have got advance warning. I would like to test it anyway before getting a new one.

Now my voltage reading from before is probably not correct since as I now understand it you have get rid of the surface chage before testing the open circuit voltage. That plus the load test should tell me whether the battery is still OK or not.

I see a number of cheap load testers available. However, I'm not sure if they really work. My understanding is that you have to provide a load capable of drawing at least 1/2 of the CCA. All these load testers seems to not have adjustable loads and only seems to provide 100 - 130 A of draw. Do these things work. On top of that my service manual suggests loading for an initial 300A of draw to remove the surface charge before static voltage testing and/or load test. I guess one can prorate the time for the lesser draw but is this a valid test

It looks like the ED-18 suggested is a battery analyzer rather than a load tester. From the price it does not look worth buying for a DIYer. Not sure who may have one for use.

Yes, this battery is an AC Delco freedom. Says "5 yrs battery" on it . Apparetenly it comes in 5,6 and 7 year flavors.
 
  #13  
Old 08-12-05, 04:06 PM
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battery charger

A friend of mine bought a high dollar battery charger/checker/reguvinater at walmart for I think he said like 100 dollars.Looks pretty good I think it does everything you said since it is computer that runs it.
It also has a feature that lets you start right off the charger.
What happens to the battery is it sulfates pieces flake off the plates and sink to the bottom when you get enough of these pieces down there it shorts end result dead battery,
I would not mind having one of these fancy battery chargers but I really think that it must be used as a preventive maintenance measure and can extend a new battery life to 6 years from 3-4.
If you have a extra 100 bucks you might look at one in walmart would be a nice toy to have.
 
  #14  
Old 08-12-05, 04:15 PM
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I believe I've seen that one at Walmart - around $90 - so I think it is the one you are talking about. Did contemplate getting it but from what I could see it is not a load tester - just a very comprehensive charging system. Definitely would be a nice addition to the home workshop. However, the load testers I've seen are only available at Sears or online. The good ones are hard to find at a reasonable price - ie with any substantial load. I saw a carbon pile 500 A one with built-in separate current and voltmeters for around 110 + free shipping from toolsource.com. Wondering whether to get it.
 
  #15  
Old 08-12-05, 05:35 PM
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Anyone know anything about Midtronics type battery testers based on measuring battery conductance. Are they as accurate as load tests. The good thing about them is that they do not load the battery so you can perform the test even if the battery is weak.
 
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Old 08-12-05, 06:34 PM
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We use a Midtronix at the shop I work at.. Pretty accurate little machine..1 set-back of it is, you can't get an amp draw test with it..(at least the model we have doesn't.) and I've seen a few batteries tested, and the Midtronics will tell you "Weak battery, Charge and retest".. The rest of the system will check out absolutely fine, and the car was just driven 30-40 miles before getting to the shop..More than enough time to fully charge the battery back up..Put a charger on the battery, 80-90 minutes, retest, and it'll give you the same response "Weak battery, Charge and retest".. But this is 1 out of 20 cars tested, maybe?
It will tell you is it "senses" corrotion on the battery cables, will test the alternator, at idle, loads on and off, and even allow you to print out the test results..If you're testing a lot of batteries and alternators, good little machine..takes only a couple of minutes to run all the tests..But for personal use, probably a little pricey for occational use...
My cents.....
 
  #17  
Old 08-12-05, 06:42 PM
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Thanks for the input. What model do you have. I saw the PBT-100 going for around $100 new - bit cheaper used. It does 200-850 CCA. The higher end models are very pricey and definitely not justifiable for occasional use. I was curious as to whether it was something worth getting instead of a load tester. I did read that they are not always 100% accurate which is why I asked the question.
 
  #18  
Old 08-12-05, 07:14 PM
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I honestly do not remember the model...And as I'm on vacation, (YAH!!!) it'll be a little over a week before I'd get a chance to look at it and see..As for how accurate it is versus a Ferret 60, I'd say 98% ? Here's the "claim to fame" for a tester such as the Midtronics... When you're dealing with customers on a daily basis, to have a piece of equipment that puts test results in plain ole english is a lot more efficient than some grey haired old fart like me trying to explain what I'm doing and how I came to my conclusions, therefore the repairs are sold quicker..It takes less training for someone to use a Midtronics versus a Ferret 40, Ferret 60 ect..so, a shop does better over all with such a tester..Heck even my boss can use the Midtronics.. LOL Does it meet every charging/starting system needs? Nope.. But what test equipment really ever does? For home use, I'd find something a little less expensive...
 
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Old 08-12-05, 09:04 PM
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oh OK - thanks. So you're online while on vacation reading "work" related stuff

I will shop around and see what I can find. The really cheap load testers ($20 or so) only provide a fixed and very low load (around 100 - 130 A). I'm not sure you can really test the battery correctly with this since as I understand it you have to load it to draw 1/2 CCA for the load test. The really really cheap testers have 3 LEDs to show volts but that's for people who really cannot afford a multimeter
 
  #20  
Old 08-12-05, 09:11 PM
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Ed-18

The ED-18 is an intersrate battery item. It is leased to dealers that will use them. Firestones almost all keep them.
 
  #21  
Old 08-12-05, 09:13 PM
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Thanks for that tip also - I'll see if someone locally has one to run a test. I guess it works on a similar priciple to the Midtronics tester just discussed.
 
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Old 08-12-05, 11:54 PM
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Another question for all you battery experts

Question on load testers - I think I asked this earlier but did not get a reply. It seems based on what I've read that a load test is usually performed at 1/2 CCA. Firstly does anyone know why this value is chosen. Anything special about it. Also I noticed that the cheaper load testers have reading appropriately calibrated to compensate for the lower load (higher voltage reading during test based on CCA rating). Now my question is - if it is common practice to run a load test at 1/2 CCA for a given duration - let's say 10 secs - is it valid to prorate the result for a lower load. So if we have a battery with say 400A CCA and the load test is to be 200A drawn for 10 secs is it equally valid to draw 100A for 20 secs. In both cases, the same amount of total charge will be drawn out of the battery (coulombs) but the rate of draw is different (amps). Is the rate of discharge important for the load test. Of course the voltage reading will be higher during the load test for the testers using the lower current draw.
 
  #23  
Old 08-13-05, 12:48 AM
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not sure why you would want to buy a battery tester as most places that sale batteries can test yours for you. not worth the expense for most people.
while im unsure of how the smaller amp load testers work I would think it is important to be able to draw out 1/2 the cca to see the voltage drop this amount of load will be similiar to the car cranking over and with modern vehicles the vehicle needs 9.6 volts or better for the electronics controls to still function correctly.
on modern vehicles a weak battery while still capable of cranking the engine over ok can cause starting problems like flooding or other no start problems due to insufficient voltage to the electronic controls.
 
  #24  
Old 08-13-05, 01:37 AM
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Just thought that having a tester would be useful - don't have to buy the battery from the place doing the testing. I'm sure they won't be pleased to test and not sell anything

Anyway, that's interesting info about the 9.6V value used in the load testing. The lower rated testers cannot force the voltage to go to 9.6V due to the reduced load so I'm guessing they pro-rate the value for that load but I'm not sure how accurate that is.
 
  #25  
Old 08-13-05, 07:36 AM
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Dealer has one

The Toyota Dealer I go to has a tester (portable) that they hook up to every car before any kind of service even a oil change,Not sure what kind it is I will try to look next time I am there.Seems like they have a young mechanic go and check each and every car that goes in and there is a fourm with the results you get when car is complete.
(Batterys are way overpriced at dealers)dont think they sell many.
 
  #26  
Old 08-13-05, 11:42 PM
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Thanks everyone for the input/suggestions. I'm still thinking about what to do but in the meantime the battery is working OK for now. Not sure about where you guys are located but around here simply getting diagnostics can be very expensive. I usually have found it more economical to buy the tool (including things like code readers) then to have it done somewhere. I'm quite nervous of "free" checks - this is usually a green light for them to find problems (usually that do not exist).

From the bit of investigation I've done there are many many battery testers ranging from around $10 to over $1000 - obviously the trick is to find something resonably accurate with a reasonable price for occasional use.

And as for dealers - I''ve usually found them overpriced for everything. I don't usually go there except when the car was under warranty.
 
  #27  
Old 08-14-05, 02:29 AM
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All the car batteries that I have gone thru, lasted one year less then the full warranty period.
They prorate the warranty, this makes you buy the same battery from the same people again to get $10.00 prorated money back.
if its a 5 year battery it will last 4 years.

A stock battery in my 82 Subaru was a Panasonic that lasted 9 years, dealer said you cant get them in the US.

If you get your batteries from a junk yard for $8.00 then a load tester may pay for its self.
some junk yards clean and charge the battery's making them look new. its buyer be ware.

Its appears to me that the battery company's can fix the life of the batteries.
I get the ones with the longest warranty period.
 
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