Battery Slowly Dies

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  #1  
Old 12-10-10, 01:56 PM
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Battery Slowly Dies

Background: Vehicle is an 86 Astrovan. Often I drive it less the 10 miles per week. Sometimes I don't drive it at all for a week. Battery is less then 2 years old. Belts are adjusted correctly, no slipping.

Problem: Over a two - three month period I have less and less power to start the van till finally I just don't have enough to start it. When I'm out driving between errands I have no trouble starting it even if it just barely started when I left the house. This last observation leads me to believe the charging system is ok since once it is driven a bit the battery starts it fine.

My guess is that the vans computer and perhaps other unknown "vampire devices" are slowly draining the battery as the van sets. That while it does charge up enough to start better after a little driving I don't drive enough to get a full charge on the battery.

So pros what are your thoughts on this? Should I maybe buy a trickle charger to keep on it between uses?
 
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Old 12-10-10, 03:00 PM
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Its pretty normal for a seldom used vehicle to "Lose Its Charge". EVERY VEHICLE produced since they started putting clocks in cars will have some "PARASITIC LOAD". This is NORMAL and There is no fix for it, other than disconnecting the battery if the vehicle is expected to sit more than a few days.....

OR....A trickle charger....
 
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Old 12-10-10, 03:19 PM
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One of those solar chargers that you put on the dash would be ideal...since they have a very low output.

I have a Tribute with a tranny issue and I only drive it in extreme emergencies (like when I'm out of beverages). Every 2-3 wks I put it on the charger. Yeah, I know, I'm gonna have to buy a battery when I start driving it regularly. Draining auto batteries way down then charging back up is bad.
 
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Old 12-10-10, 04:24 PM
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Thanks guys. Trickle charger it is. No sun in the garage so solar is out. Just a good old plug in.
 
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Old 12-10-10, 06:54 PM
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i have no doubt terminals are clean and lubricated and sealed.....

then again, you may simply have crappy battery, happens.

of course, alternator output needs to be checked....

you know you'll kill battery with frequent charges? btw, is that a serviceable battery? if banks are exposed on the top and acid level is low...

btw, batteries are best to buy off junk yards. very cheap.
 
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Old 12-10-10, 07:35 PM
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you know you'll kill battery with frequent charges
But every time you drive the car you charge the battery. I know what you mean though. I figure the trickle charger will be more gentle then a deep charge every couple of months.
 
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Old 12-11-10, 08:20 AM
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My boat batteries I would charge once a month no problems in storage .....so I thought to buy a trickle charger for each that was a mistake ....power outages, plugs and terminal connections all became issues. I noticed problem when one light was out on the trickle charger so I checked the batteries one down the other dead. HAD TO REPLACE THE ONE DUE TO CELL SHORT
disconnect the battery slow charge it up repeat every month
 
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Old 12-11-10, 09:37 PM
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correct me if i'm wrong, but aren't car batteries float charged with electrical management system while on the car? basically, charge level is continuously maintained at specific level and charging stops when that level is accomplished.

they say, you'd be better off float charging a battery, or charging once a month.

my only familiarity with trickle charging is my gate opener, it's trickle charging DEEP CYCLE battery that opens the gate.
 
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Old 12-12-10, 07:25 AM
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I'll start by stating I'm not a expert...... my batteries were NOT deep cycle lead acid as yours.Some cars have energy drains from electronics like clocks and so on. A trickle charger would not work under those conditions without the disconnect of battery. As a battery goes through drain lead sulfate builds on the plates. when being charged the electrolysis removes this salt which drops to the bottom of the battery. when the build up start to reach the plates they short resulting in a weak cell or dead cell. In theory you maintain a fully charged battery. So if you have a drain do to equipment on car,plugs falling out,power outages etc. this would be a problem.

below I found this info:



Lead acid batteries are slightly less robust but can tolerate a short duration trickle charge. Flooded batteries tend to use up their water, and SLAs tend to die early from grid corrosion. Lead-acids should either be left sitting, or float-charged (held at a constant voltage well below the gassing point).
Slow charging can be carried out in relatively simple chargers and should not result in the battery overheating. When charging is complete batteries should be removed from the charger.
Lead acid batteries are preferred for UPS systems. During prolonged float charge, a periodic topping charge, also known as an ‘equalizing charge’, is recommended to fully charge the plates and prevent sulfation. An equalizing charge raises the battery voltage for several hours to a voltage level above that specified by the manufacturer. Loss of electrolyte through elevated temperature may occur if the equalizing charge is not administered correctly. Because no liquid can be added to the SLA and VRLA systems, a reduction of the electrolyte will cause irreversible damage. Manufacturers and service personnel are often divided on the benefit of the equalizing charge.

Some exercise, or brief periodic discharge, is believed to prolong battery life of lead acid systems. If applied once a month as part of an exercising program, the depth of discharge should only be about 10 percent of its total capacity. A full discharge as part of regular maintenance is not recommended because each deep discharge cycle robs service life from the battery.
Disconnecting the float charge while the VRLA is on standby is another method of prolonging battery life. From time-to-time, a topping charge is applied to replenish the energy lost through self-discharge. This is said to lower cell corrosion and prolong battery life.
Slow Charge = Overnight or 14-16 hours charging at 0.1C rate until charged then remove DO NOT OVER CHARGE.
 
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Old 12-12-10, 10:38 AM
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Than you all for your responses. After the many excellent responses I have come up with a plan B. About every two weeks I will put the charger on set at 2a charge rate and disconnect when the meter reaches 0. Would it also be wise to monitor the specific gravity and use that to determine when to charge and when to stop charging?
 
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Old 12-12-10, 10:51 AM
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you can use a voltmeter 12.5-12.7 SG that would tell you health of your battery (h2so4 sulfuric acid) is the electrolyte I think battery acid is 1.25? but as the SG go's down the lead sulfate is building at the bottom of battery or Water h2o is gassing out. due to over heating 2 amp is good.
 

Last edited by dagresta; 12-12-10 at 11:13 AM.
  #12  
Old 12-12-10, 10:54 AM
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Ray...unless your charger is a lot better than mine (very possible...lol) it will never really go to 0. It will drop a bit...but even at 2A it will boil off some of the water.

I'd set it low, charge for 2 hrs every 2 weeks, disconnect, then check voltage at the battery. If you open a door for a few minutes it will put a slight load on to help eliminate the "surface charge" effect. Should be around 13V?

Oh...btw..some of those SG battery testers aren't so great. I was helping a neighbor and my SG tester said both his batteries were severely in need of a charge, but when he took them to the local NAPA they tested just fine. Tried it on my daily driver with a relatively new battery, said the same thing. I guess they have to be temp compensated somehow?

I like the voltage drop test better.
 
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Old 12-12-10, 11:19 AM
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when SG falls below 1.20 you start to build sulfate. If battery temperature exceeds 125ºF the battery should be taken off of charge and allowed to cool before equalization is continued. When two consistent specific gravity readings are taken a half hour apart the battery is equalized.

Charged Specific Gravity
100% 1.265-1.275
75% 1.225-1.235
50% 1.190-1.200
25% 1.155-1.165
0% 1.120-1.130

Battery Maintenance
 
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Old 12-12-10, 11:31 AM
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Thanks guys.

...........................
 
  #15  
Old 12-12-10, 03:32 PM
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Here ya go Ray, just what you need.,,,

Amazon.com: Schumacher SE-1-12S Fully Automatic Onboard Battery Charger - 1.5 Amps: Automotive


I bought one of these a couple years ago and it works great. What I like is once your battery gets to 14 volts it shuts off until the voltage drops ~one volt then comes on again, no need to worry about over charging it or boiling out the water.


B
 
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Old 12-12-10, 04:08 PM
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Here ya go Ray, just what you need.,,,

Amazon.com: Schumacher SE-1-12S Fully Automatic Onboard Battery Charger - 1.5 Amps: Automotive
Sweet and the price is good.

Thanks,
Ray
 
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