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Old 05-30-2006, 05:05 PM
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Just a Dead Battery?

My car sat pretty much all winter and the one time I went to start it over the winter I had to jump it, and let it run for awahile and it was fine. But as soon as I shut it off it wouldn't restart. It's the same thing now that spring is here. There's a very nominal draw on the battery, like .o1 amps, nothing unusual. You think the battery jsut went bad from sitting all winter? Or do I have other problems to look into?
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Old 05-30-2006, 05:49 PM
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Doc here,

First off, Common Misconception...The Alternator Was NOT designed to bring a battery back to life after going flat dead..

An Alternator is designed to replace high current surface draw (Starter) and support the system during operation only.

At best When you Started it over the winter, you put enough back in to start it again..That charge would have been gone the next day..

Now it has been discharged many months, so the best course of action would be put it on a 10 amp charge for 6 to 10 hours..Then get a load check, If any cells were damaged the state of charge will drop off rapidly.

If that's the case, replace the battery..then while there pick up a charger designed for long storage of battery's..and use that in winter..Be sure when you store it the cables are removed and the charger is online.

When you bring it out of storage, standard Battery and cable maintenance should be all that is needed.

Doc
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Old 05-30-2006, 10:14 PM
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I like to check simple stuff first.
First, is the battery in fact dead, or is something just preventing it from cranking the car? See if the headlights are nice and bright. If they are then you might suspect cable troubles. I've have vehicles sit a long time and corrode the cables. Inspecting and cleaning their connections is a good idea anyway.
Sitting a long time can damage a battery somewhat. I've revived some by using a 1 amp "trickle charger". It can take up to two weeks for one of those to fully revive a completely dead battery though and doesn't always work.
Most folks don't have a "load tester" (I don't) but most parts stores will check a battery for free. Unfortunately for the test to be accurate, the battery must be fully charged first. They tend to do a quick charge then test. As Doc said this doesn't really revive a battery. Parts stores sell a lot of new batteries this way. Realistically they aren't in a position to put a real charge on customer's batteries though. (Could you leave it with us for a week or so? 8 or 9 hours?)
Investing in some sort of battery charger is a very good idea, I won't be caught without one in my shop. Cheap ones never last but usually at least work for a while.
And it could be the battery is in fact no good anymore. Once they get a "dead cell" or something a battery is a pretty much a write off.
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Old 06-01-2006, 08:55 AM
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Thanks,

I was just wondering before I got into much. My dad actually rebuilds starters, alternators, and BATTERY CHARGERS, we have 4 or 5 battery chargers and all but one are more a trickle b/c he knows that charging a battery fast doesn't work. He is bringing home a a tester tonight to see if the battery is any good or not. I have a feeling it is toast b/c I ran it dead a lot last summer before I changed the bad voltage regulator. I did a trickle charge but it hasn't seemed to hold. I'll probably break down and buy on Optimum.
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Old 06-01-2006, 06:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1quiknova
Thanks,

I was just wondering before I got into much. My dad actually rebuilds starters, alternators, and BATTERY CHARGERS, we have 4 or 5 battery chargers and all but one are more a trickle b/c he knows that charging a battery fast doesn't work. He is bringing home a a tester tonight to see if the battery is any good or not. I have a feeling it is toast b/c I ran it dead a lot last summer before I changed the bad voltage regulator. I did a trickle charge but it hasn't seemed to hold. I'll probably break down and buy on Optimum.

Doc here,

Optima is a good choice , Especially for a seasonal Vehicle.

The Confusion Sets in on the rate of charge on an H2So4 Type battery.

A trickle Charge is that which is a Very low current charge, from a few hundred Ma. to an amp..It is a good mode of charge and maintenance over long priods..(Days weeks, months).

A SLOW charge, is one that is about 2 to 6 Amps..and is performed over a 12 to 24 hour period ideally. This type of charge will replace the deep cycle charge lost in the battery from going dead..It also is a good mode of charge provided you have the time.

A FAST Charge is one from one of those big chargers that have "Lightning Bolt decals" on them..(a good analogy..) and 4 gauge cables..and charges between 10 amp and whatever they rate the transformer for..it produces A very fast rate of charge..This mode of charge will NOT invade the deep cycle state..but only create a surface charge..(not much better than a jump start)usually "BOILS' the electrolyte, and can warp plates, gas the battery, in general, harm the state of health of the battery. Not a good mode of charge at all.

If your battery is draining off after charge, just sitting, you most likely have one or more bad cells..I would suspect a new battery is in order.

Doc
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Old 06-06-2006, 11:59 PM
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I don't believe I've ever seen the different types of battery charging described so well. Doc does it again.
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Old 06-07-2006, 07:01 AM
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you didn't say what or how old the car is....this applies to old cars

old cars are bad for voltage "bleed" leakage due to worn/dirty switches, failing wire insulation, bad grounds, faulty voltage regulator, alt, etc...if you have a "bleed" "hopefully" you will find a major contributor to repair but most often it is cumulative....a little bit in each circuit

with absolutely everything turned off (radio presets disconnected, doors closed, hood light unplugged, whatever) disconnect the batt neg cable and read the volts with a meter from the batt post to the disconnected neg cable

"0" volts= perfect....50'-60's car, 3-6V is common, cracked/melted insulation power feed line can bleed 12V...(you only tested for amp draw and also need to know V for how many watts drain in storage)

you can test for leakage going "upstream", remove a fuse, check for less V at batt, replace the fuse, remove next fuse....
my choice, due to CRS is unplug and disconnect everything and remove all fuses....get as close to "0" volts/no circuits as possible then plug one at a time in and measure for added V by that circuit....and clean each connector as I go

on the car I just did, I lucked out, the major (3V out of 4V) bleed was a worn starter solenoid which is my first test, battery cable only to the solenoid, replaced the solenoid, V "bleed" dropped to .25V with all disconnected except batt to solo cable

I did test each and all, to illustrate some the little 'bleeds":
.25V, batt cable to solonoid
.37V alt power wire added to the solo
.57V voltage regulator plugged in
.66V power feed wire harness on solo to firewall (un) plug
1.00V power feed wire (only) plugged into the firewall
all the rest, fuses, horn, turnsignal connects, A/C, washer pump, etc,etc, etc tested great (added .12V to total)
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Old 06-07-2006, 07:04 PM
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Doc here,

Quote:
old cars are bad for voltage "bleed" leakage due to worn/dirty switches, failing wire insulation, bad grounds, faulty voltage regulator, alt, etc...if you have a "bleed" "hopefully" you will find a major contributor to repair but most often it is cumulative....a little bit in each circuit
FIRST , It is on a 12 VDC , flat-line, Non wave-shaped, Analog Circuit..It is absolutely Absurd To Believe "Voltage" is going to sneak out and Jump off a static , Off positioned (not doing useful work) Switch..and dribble electrons and atoms in a little pile of Electrical on the carpet...like an unhousebroken pet..

With very few exceptions, Like for instance a Solid State switch, that uses a GATE or BASE to forward bias an Emitter Coupled , Collector current driven Circuit (like a Darlington pair Dimmer system) where a small Gate voltage leak can result in an small amount of output..would show a small drain in voltage at the GATE and the Collector when it's supposed to be off or low.

Mechanical, Analog, Non Coaxial RF Switches either "ARE " or They "AIN'T"..and if they have a "BLEED" in the forward direction when statically "OFF" have another name...DEAD SHORT..or Welded Contact, and will always power the end device if stuck in that mode.

An ANALOG switch CAN have a Voltage drop..Doing USEFUL work..(Device in the "on" position..) Through Bad, Pitted , Dirty, or Corroded Contacts, or bad or loose wires. This DROP will not be present in an "OFF" position as any small "LEAK" or "BLEED"..but present in both Voltage drop readings and Current Sampling at the Device doing useful work.

This is current that has had a path of resistance provided to it's common flow, and usually results in Heat dissipation at the device or wire, and as OHMS law Tells us..The Current will go high, as the voltage declines in that circuit..The reverse is true if The Device current is relaxed or removed.

To Measure A Voltage drop in a device , Is to measure Across the Device with respect to ground, and requires two samplings..one at the INPUT side, and ONE at the OUTPUT side..with Respect to GROUND OR..in PARALLEL not SERIES..

EXAMPLE:

You have a light switch and light circuit, drawing high current, and the bulbs are dim..
  • Placing your meter probe on the INPUT side of the device (The switch, where power Comes from the battery) and the OTHER probe on GROUND, you READ 12.5 Volts. Do the same with the device energized..It should read about the same.
  • Next place the probes on the device OUTPUT side (The wires going to The lamps) And GROUND, energize the circuit and read your display..you read 8 volts..
  • Voltage drop through the switch is 4.5 volts..Indicative of poor contacts or poor switch, or bad terminal bonding.

Undersized wiring, or internally Corroded Wiring, Or poorly Bonded Wiring will pose a path of resistance to the normal flow of current from the SOURCE to the LOAD, ONLY when doing useful work (Circuit energized) ..again resulting in heat dissipation, (hot or melting wires) and again, as OHMS law tells us..as the Voltage Declines in that circuit, The Current ascends..Possably resulting in failure of the wire.

Quote:
with absolutely everything turned off (radio presets disconnected, doors closed, hood light unplugged, whatever) disconnect the batt neg cable and read the volts (** In SERIES?? **) with a meter from the batt post to the disconnected neg cable
Voltage readings are taken in Parallel, across the device, with respect to ground...NOT in series...

The only reading you will get in series is the Source supply voltage (in this case 12 volts) NOT a drop in that reading..This is about as useful as a milk bucket under a Bull..

TRY it yourself
  • Get a lamp..
  • A 12 volt source,
  • hook one side of the lamp to power.
  • The other to your meter..
  • Then the other side of the meter to the power source ground (Meter in Series) ..

You will read 12 volts..AND The lamp WILL not light..

If you try to measure Voltage in series, and are unlucky enough to have a major current drain in the system (Fan motor, Heater motor, or short) Your Volt meter will become a fuse.."Poof"...

Quote:
"0" volts= perfect....50'-60's car, 3-6V is common, cracked/melted insulation power feed line can bleed 12V...(you only tested for amp draw and also need to know V for how many watts drain in storage)
0 Voltage reading, as read in series with a VOLTMETER, will indicate only that you have an incomplete circuit (or everything is off, no path to ground.)

The only other reading you will see, is .. source Voltage..12.5 volts.

If you read anything else..my best guess would be an Electrolytic Noise suppression Capacitor , perhaps at the Alternator or external regulator charging and Bleeding off voltage to ground.

A 3 to 6 volt drop in the system, you'd be hard pressed to support headlights and heater along with tail lamps..and the draw would be 1/3 to double normal draw ... (Voltage declines..Current rises).

If you tested for Current draw..you need only apply a little OHMS law and math to figure out what the voltage at that point is..Again..Try it yourself.

Doc
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