battery weak?

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  #1  
Old 11-10-08, 06:34 PM
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battery weak?

It seems like lately I'm not getting good quick powerful starting, like I'm used to, from the battery in my Ford Ranger. I've especially been noticing it now with colder winter temperatures outside, first thing in the morning and then after work when its been sitting all day. The battery was new about 5 years ago. Battery connections are tight and clean. I do happen to have an inexpensive and not too powerful 12V battery charger like this one: NAPAONLINEŽ

Also I have access to a voltmeter and an amp meter, with which I could probably perform the tests as explained in the following web article: How Do I Check My Car Battery?

Before I do any testing, though, I have a few initial questions:
1. If the battery was brand new five years ago and has not been under any unusual stress or operating conditions otherwise, is it probably due for replacement anyway because of its age? How long should I expect it last anyway?
2. If I did want to try to charge it up using that little charger, would that be fine or is it too small for a typical car battery? Its mainly designed for ATV or motorcycle batteries, I believe.
3. If I wanted to perform the alternator output test as described in step four of the article, how do I find out first what the maximum output of amperage of my alternator is (designed to produce)?

Any comments/advice appreciated.
 
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  #2  
Old 11-11-08, 03:30 AM
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in my inexpert opinion, cold weather and days of no driving
each decrease a battery's effective life. I usually try to buy
a 4 year battery and replace it at 3 1/2 (times approximate, the
actual timespan is written down somewhere). Also I keep it
recharged every other day or so if it is not driven.
 
  #3  
Old 11-11-08, 07:40 AM
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imo

A five year old battery is on its last legs I would replace it now before it goes south at a real bad time. Most batterys except a few like Optima have about a 4 year life span.
I have found that Interstate makes some good batterys and ones I would stay away from is wally world units never had luck with them.
 
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Old 11-12-08, 10:41 AM
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Okay I got mixed up and assumed the battery in my Ranger was five-plus years old, and that the terminals were tight and clean. That was actually the case on my wife's car, not my Ranger.

On my Ranger I have a Napa brand 75-month battery that was purchased/installed in March 2006. On checking, I see that there is some blue-colored corrosion is occuring around the positive terminal.

So I'll go ahead and clean up the terminal good and make sure I have a good positive connection there. My question now is whether because of that corrosion my battery life has been significantly reduced to the point where I probably cannot expect it to perform as well as it would otherwise from here on out.

Any comments appreciated, thanks.
 

Last edited by sgull; 11-12-08 at 11:06 AM.
  #5  
Old 11-12-08, 10:57 AM
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No, you should be fine. Clean it up, put a little corrosion preventative on it (Vasilene will also work) after the connections are tight and clean. Check the water level if you can, use distilled water to bring it up if required.
 
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Old 11-12-08, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Gunguy45 View Post
No, you should be fine. Clean it up, put a little corrosion preventative on it (Vasilene will also work) after the connections are tight and clean. Check the water level if you can, use distilled water to bring it up if required.
Okay thanks Gunguy, that's good to hear. It's the sealed maintenance-free type battery so water level uncheckable. Also I was wondering if because most of my driving is very short trips, barely a quarter-mile back and forth to work each day, whether that's an adequate situation for the alternator to be keeping the battery charged as it should.
 
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Old 11-12-08, 11:24 AM
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Oh, well, no probably not. If it's only a 1/4 mile to work, you should be walking anyway! Work out your cardio system a bit and save gas as well. lol

You should put a smart charger on it once in a while, see if that makes a difference. I think they make some that can just be plugged into the cig lighter while you are at work.
 
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Old 11-12-08, 11:31 AM
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1/4 mile to work?????

Originally Posted by sgull View Post
......... most of my driving is very short trips, barely a quarter-mile back and forth to work each day, whether that's an adequate situation for the alternator to be keeping the battery charged as it should.
Not only is not a good situation for your alternator and battery but it is not a good situation for your engine, transmission, exhaust system, cooling system or your health. Your engine (and everything else) never really warms up on such a short drive, I recommend you either walk or ride a bicycle for a 1/4 mile daily commute unless your physical condition absolutely precludes it.
 
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Old 11-12-08, 11:44 AM
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Yeah what he said...
I wasn't even thinking that direction. Unless you occasionally drive 20-30 miles on the highway, its really not good for the engine, trans, tires etc.
 
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Old 11-12-08, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Gunguy45 View Post
If it's only a 1/4 mile to work, you should be walking anyway! You should put a smart charger on it once in a while, see if that makes a difference. I think they make some that can just be plugged into the cig lighter while you are at work.
Okay I'll walk to work. Once in a while I do drive longer distances, maybe seven miles or so. If I drive seven miles or so once in a while, is that good enough, or does it have to be 20-30 miles all the time? There's not much road here at my relatively isolated location.

Also, not really familiar with this smart charger you mention. What makes it better or smarter or whatever than a regular charger, other than just maybe being able to plug it into a cig lighter? thanks
 
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Old 11-12-08, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by dhamblet View Post
Not only is not a good situation for your alternator and battery but it is not a good situation for your engine, transmission, exhaust system, cooling system or your health. Your engine (and everything else) never really warms up on such a short drive, I recommend you either walk or ride a bicycle for a 1/4 mile daily commute unless your physical condition absolutely precludes it.
I can walk to work then. But I still need the automobile occasionally for longer distance driving. How often and how far would you suggest I need to drive so that everything can warm up sufficiently for good health of the engine, transmission, exhaust system cooling system, etc. ?
 
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Old 11-12-08, 12:00 PM
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Smart chargers have monitoring circuits in them to keep from overcharging the battery, which can be as bad as not fully charging the battery. They ones I've seen are solar panels that you just plug in and they trickle charge, not cheap though. They also have them that plug into house current, prob much less, but they require direct connection to the battery terminals.

If you have your owners manual it should show that what you drive would be considered "severe conditions" for maintenance.

Even 7 miles is probably pretty short. I sort of have the same issue. Couple of miles every few days with a 300 mi trip every 3-4 weeks. Tire pressure and battery maintenance are 2 of my big concerns.
 
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Old 11-12-08, 12:15 PM
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warm up

7 miles is not far enough to properly warm an engine unless you spend a lot of time sitting in traffic. The oil never warms up enough to burn off the condensation that forms in it ditto for the exhaust system. When you start a car you typically see exhaust "smoke" well its mostly water vapor. If you don't get everything good and hot that water vapor will stay sitting there and rust out the muffler and all exhaust piping. I don't remember the actual figure but I think it takes about 20 minutes of driving to warm a vehicle. I'm sure someone on here will correct me if wrong.
 
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Old 11-12-08, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Gunguy45 View Post
If you have your owners manual it should show that what you drive would be considered "severe conditions" for maintenance.
Yep, my driving conditions, with the frequent short trips and much of the time in colder weather, are what's considered "severe." To this point, however, the most I've ever done about it is to make sure and change engine oil every 3000 miles. Never thought much or did much else otherwise about the apparent effect upon the battery and other systems mentioned under my normal pattern of short-trip driving. But its getting more obvious now that I need to pay more attention to those things.

And walk to work.
 
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Old 11-12-08, 05:14 PM
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it takes about 20 minutes of driving in highway conditions to fully warm up most vehicles, 30-40 minutes of town driving, at least 1 day a week if most of your driving is less than 10 minutes.

life begins when the kids leave home and the dog dies
 
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Old 11-12-08, 05:47 PM
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Okay then I'll try to make time to go cruisin' around for about a half-hour at least once a week. thanks
 
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Old 11-12-08, 07:25 PM
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As mentioned previously in this thread, I happen to have a not-very-powerful 12V battery charger like this: NAPAONLINEŽ

Its apparently designed to trickle-charge motorcycle and ATV batteries, not necessarily car batteries. In the webpage info you can see it says "Charging amps 900 amp". But on the charger itself it actually says 900 mA (which I'm pretty sure means milli-amps.)

So, if my car battery happens to need to be charged up, will this little charger probably do the trick if I leave it charging overnight, or probably not?
 
  #18  
Old 11-12-08, 08:27 PM
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not an hour ago I finished a recharge with a unit that
looks like the one in your link. Did not "finish" it
per se, it has a light that turns from amber to green
if the charge is done. Green happens sooner for
the first year or so of the battery's life, later or
never as the battery gets weaker. Though if
your electrical system has more than minor
drain from the battery, that might make it
go slower to recharge. (IANAE)
 
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Old 11-12-08, 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by jb_freebsd View Post
it has a light that turns from amber to green if the charge is done. Green happens sooner for the first year or so of the battery's life, later or
never as the battery gets weaker.
Well my battery is two and a half years old. So I won't expect to see the green light on this charger very soon, if at all.
Thanks
 
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