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'[EE]: Interesting automotive battery falure'
2003\12\27@234713 by Russell McMahon

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I was driving my wife's car with her as passenger. For reasons which seemed
good at the time I entered the local supermarket carpark entrance at a speed
which caused substantial kerthunk / grounding / scraping action, probably
with pretty sparks. This is a very deep and sharp entrance dip across a road
camber. I would do the same thing again in the same circumstances but would
try to avoid the circumstances occurring again :-) . (The man signalling a
left turn presumably into the supermarket which putatively gave me the right
of way in NZ, didn't seem to be slowing and I decided he MAY have been
signalling for the corner some 50+ metres past the entrance. I decided that
my wife (on impact side) didn't want to find out who was right).

Anyway - car negotiated the bump with a loud shrieking of tortured wife
(understandably enough) and we drove otherwise sedately to a parking place.
On return to the car it was electrically dead. Very slightest whiff of 12v
at battery terminals which vanished under any load.

Conclusion:  Battery had suffered an internal stress break at some point
internally. Can supply under 100 mA on full short circuit. I have had this
happen long ago (15 years+ ?) but then not as far as I can recall due to any
major impact.

Is this sort of failure usual?

What do they do to preserve batteries in eg rally cars?

In whoever's opinion - If this battery was still in warranty (it's not)
would I be justified in making a warranty claim?



       Russell McMahon

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2003\12\28@000519 by David VanHorn

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>
>Is this sort of failure usual?

Not terribly. I had one go when I stopped at a light.
It just quit.

>What do they do to preserve batteries in eg rally cars?

Car batteries in general compromise cycle life and capacity, to gain ruggedness.  The Optima batteries are probably more rugged.

>In whoever's opinion - If this battery was still in warranty (it's not) would I be justified in making a warranty claim?

Probably. It's not that unusual compared to chuckholes.

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2003\12\28@001136 by James Cameron

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Russell,

Having moved into the outback about four years ago, we go through lots
of batteries.  I had a new one today, it had been installed in May.
The failure rate appears to relate to high temperatures and vibration on
dirt roads.

Usually it's a cell short; voltage under cranking falls to 8V, then
returns to 10V instead of 12V.

I haven't found a solution ... though I was about to stick a PIC 16F877
into the car to monitor the voltage more regularly.  It was annoying to
have to find the failure just when we want to use the car.  ;-)

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2003\12\28@001347 by Bob Blick

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On 28 Dec 2003 at 17:46, Russell McMahon wrote:
> Conclusion:  Battery had suffered an internal stress break at some point
> internally. Can supply under 100 mA on full short circuit. I have had this
> happen long ago (15 years+ ?) but then not as far as I can recall due to any
> major impact.

Please, be very careful with this battery. About 20 years ago my wife's
car developed a strange problem, sometimes you'd hit the starter and
nothing would happen for a fraction of a second or a second or two.
Then everything would work fine. Cleaning the battery terminals, etc
made no difference.

Then one day about a week after this began I got into the car, turned
the key, and kaboom, the battery exploded into a steamy mess. My
guess is the battery had an internal bad connection.

Cheerful regards,

Bob

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2003\12\28@002831 by David VanHorn
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>
>Then one day about a week after this began I got into the car, turned
>the key, and kaboom, the battery exploded into a steamy mess. My
>guess is the battery had an internal bad connection.

Spark in a box full of hydrogen will do that to you.
My guess is that the cracked conductor made contact momentarily, under load.

I've had them go when I connected ONE jumper cable, due to static charge between the vehicles.  Nowadays, I touch the negative cable to the target vehicle well away from the battery first, then apply to a frame ground.

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2003\12\28@004534 by Dan Devine

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>....kaboom, the battery exploded into a steamy mess. My
> guess is the battery had an internal bad connection.
>
> Cheerful regards,
>
> Bob

I had this happen while charging.....it blew the hood up (although not
completely off) on the 1969 Pontiac station wagon I drove as my first
car.

I think this is also a result of explosive gas buildup and appropriate
spark....yeah, I know, statement of obvious.

I remember from a chemistry anecdote, that cells short at the bottom,
when the oxidized skin of the metal the plates shakes loose and settles
to the bottom.  I remember from the same story, that this is where
vibration damage is seen most, shaking off the oxide that forms when
batteries are drained.  Lesson I took, keep your batteries charged for
best health.

DD

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2003\12\28@004741 by David Duffy

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Russell McMahon wrote:

{Quote hidden}

I had this happen about 15 years ago when a car in the RH turning lane
decided that he'd rather not turn and pulled out again as I was level with
him. My car spun around 180 degrees and the LH side wheels struck the
traffic island hard. The battery must have cracked internally. It could run
the car radio but no lights or starter, etc! A jump start and a new battery
once I got home saw it sorted. I didn't claim for the battery - I just went
around (with my brother) to the guys house and extracted some $$. :-)
David...

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2003\12\28@082232 by Rick C.

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Flooded lead-acid automotive batteries die in two ways. They desulphate and/or
particles of the plates (sponge lead), flake off and collect on the bottom of
the cells. The accumulation of this conductive debris will rise from the bottom
and eventually reach the plates where they will short the cell. This is why many
times a weak battery will show a strong, but lower voltage battery, around 11.0
volts.

A hard shock or bounce in a vehicle could dislodge enough of the plate material
to cause an immediate short across many of the cells at the same time, thus
causing the battery to self destruct in a violent way.

I've seen a battery that did not explode, slowly disintegrate before my eyes. An
orange glow in the center of the side of the battery grew larger and overcame
the whole battery and it finally collapsed into a mush of molten lead and
plastic. Fortunately there was enough ventilation that the hydrogen didn't
explode.

I usually replace my car battery every three or four years regardless of its
performance. There's no telling when it will fail, and it usually does at the
worst possible time. Typical *good* 12 volt auto batteries should show greater
than 12.8 volts when measured the first thing in the morning before you drive.
Anything less means you are due for a replacement or a desulphation process.
http://www.vdcelectronics.com/desulphation.htm
http://www.vdcelectronics.com/desulphation2.htm

Rick

Russell McMahon wrote:Anyway - car negotiated the bump with a loud shrieking of
tortured wife

{Quote hidden}

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2003\12\28@161855 by Peter L. Peres

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> Conclusion:  Battery had suffered an internal stress break at some point
> internally. Can supply under 100 mA on full short circuit. I have had
> this happen long ago (15 years+ ?) but then not as far as I can recall
> due to any major impact.
>
> Is this sort of failure usual?

afaik it is far more usual for the plates to short when jolted properly.
This is a very bad thing and the manufacturers go to some length to
prevent this, especially since some testing is done wrt. dropping afaik. A
charged, shorted battery will be venting steam carrying H2SO4 within a few
tens of seconds.

> What do they do to preserve batteries in eg rally cars?

They put them on a L shelf made of stainless steel and strap them to it,
with rubber mats on the sides. I used such a shelf as an anvil for a few
years ... it came from a truck. Agricultural machines with almost no
suspension have a similar arrangement.

> In whoever's opinion - If this battery was still in warranty (it's not)
> would I be justified in making a warranty claim?

I don't think so. I think that the battery has a cracked stem (one of the
electrodes that rise from the plate assemblies to the bridges that connect
the cells in series. In the olden days you could solder it back but now
you probably have no access to the bridges.

Peter

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2003\12\30@123555 by Bob Japundza

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This is the most common failure mode that I've experienced with lead-acid batteries.  Over time small pieces of the lead plates seperate and fall to the bottom and eventually cause internal shorting.  Earlier this year a friend of mine was about to remove his starter fearing that there was an internal short in it preventing the car from starting.  I told him to replace the battery.  He didn't think it was that because the battery still showed 12.5 volts across the terminals, the accessories came on (but would dim quickly), and wouldn't believe me...I made a friendly gentleman's bet that was the case and brought over a spare battery I had.  The car started immediately on the other battery...

In my car I replaced the boat-anchor battery and it now has an drycell battery, the same one I use in my airplane (Odyssey PC680).  It is 1/4 the weight/size yet has more current capacity.  Anyway these batteries are very immune to vibration/g-loads, last longer, are cheaper, etc.

Regards, Bob


Russell McMahon <apptechspamKILLspamPARADISE.NET.NZ> wrote ..
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2003\12\30@130748 by David VanHorn

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>
>In my car I replaced the boat-anchor battery and it now has an drycell battery, the same one I use in my airplane (Odyssey PC680).  It is 1/4 the weight/size yet has more current capacity.  Anyway these batteries are very immune to vibration/g-loads, last longer, are cheaper, etc.

I'd be nervous with such a small capacity battery.
It's only 16 AH. While the cranking current is good, it won't hold up an accessory load very long.

This one looks better to me.
www.batterymart.com/battery.mv?p=ODY-PC1700MJT
I'll have to check dims.
My existing battery is somewhere between new, and failed.
No problems so far, but it's had a few deep cycles.

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2003\12\30@150808 by Denny Esterline

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> This one looks better to me.
> www.batterymart.com/battery.mv?p=ODY-PC1700MJT
> I'll have to check dims.
> My existing battery is somewhere between new, and failed.

Doesn't that describe just about everything?

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2003\12\30@154545 by David VanHorn

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At 03:06 PM 12/30/2003 -0500, Denny Esterline wrote:

>> This one looks better to me.
>> www.batterymart.com/battery.mv?p=ODY-PC1700MJT
>> I'll have to check dims.
>> My existing battery is somewhere between new, and failed.
>
>Doesn't that describe just about everything?

I suppose so, but I have a greater degree of uncertanity than usual.
The battery came with the car.

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2003\12\30@155207 by Bob Japundza

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It would only be a problem if you were having trouble starting the car and kept on trying or you wouldn't be able to run as long if your alternator failed and you were out in the boonies.  The dry-cell battery does a better job at cranking, and I suspect it is due to its lower internal resistance.

Regards, Bob

David VanHorn <EraseMEdvanhornspam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTCEDAR.NET> wrote ..
> I'd be nervous with such a small capacity battery.
> It's only 16 AH. While the cranking current is good, it won't hold up an
> accessory load very long.

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2003\12\30@160245 by David VanHorn

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At 04:05 PM 12/30/2003 -0500, Bob Japundza wrote:

>It would only be a problem if you were having trouble starting the car and kept on trying or you wouldn't be able to run as long if your alternator failed and you were out in the boonies.  The dry-cell battery does a better job at cranking, and I suspect it is due to its lower internal resistance.

My unswitched accessories feed through a #4, if that's a hint.. :)
http://www.dvanhorn.org/HamRadio/Index.php

My parked, powered down drain, is <1A though.

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2003\12\30@160658 by Bob Japundza

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I see.  You're like one of those kids with a big car stereo, except you speak to the radio rather than just listening to it. :)

Regards, Bob

David VanHorn <dvanhornspamspam_OUTCEDAR.NET> wrote ..
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2003\12\30@170315 by David VanHorn

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At 04:20 PM 12/30/2003 -0500, Bob Japundza wrote:

>I see.  You're like one of those kids with a big car stereo, except you speak to the radio rather than just listening to it. :)

Multiple 50W transmitters, even at low duty cycle, are a bit of a drain.

The Gel cells in the back help, but I'm always looking to improve things.
When I need a new battery, it will probably be something like the Hawkers.

I thought about a solar panel, but they don't stand up to hail very well, and I am trying not to clutter the rig up too much.
If I had a van, I might do a slightly recessed panel on the roof.

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2003\12\31@135457 by Nate Duehr

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On Saturday 27 December 2003 10:10 pm, James Cameron wrote:

> Having moved into the outback about four years ago, we go through
> lots of batteries.  I had a new one today, it had been installed in
> May. The failure rate appears to relate to high temperatures and
> vibration on dirt roads.

I would agree with this experience.  I do a lot of 4x4 backcountry
driving in my Jeep Cherokee and my battery failure rate is twice what
my wife's is in her Honda Civic.  (She got 6 years out of the original
manufacturer's battery, I got 3.  We're both on our second
non-manufacturer OEM batteries now.)  My dad also does a lot of
backcountry driving and his battery failure rate in his GMC Jimmy has
been about 3 years to a battery also.

The "one cell shorted, voltage low" also seems to be the most common
failure for both of us.

I purchased a "off-road/4x4" version of the DieHard brand from Sears
recently.  I'll let you know in 3 (or more) years how it stands up.
;-)

Their claim is that it's better suited for off-road activity, looking at
the case, it appears to be a much more rugged construction, but not
sure internally how much difference there is.  LOL... hopefully some.
That or I'm a typical idiot consumer who'll buy anything.  :-)

I would have liked to have tried the Optima brand cylindrical batteries,
but the battery picked a bad financial time of the year to die, so I
"splurged" an extra $30 to get the "off-road" DieHard and we'll see how
she goes...

As a side note, I'm VERY hard on batteries and electrical system
components.  I have a bunch of Amateur radio transmitters installed or
not installed at various times of the year, depending on communications
needs.  All pull high current from the battery system, and I do
regularly use them with the engine off, so my battery tends to get
"deep cycled" more than it would in a typical use vehicle.  As a
comparison, my wife's car has a single transmitter in it and it's
rarely used except when the vehicle is in motion and the Alternator can
take up the load it creates.

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2003\12\31@172632 by John Ferrell

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My Bulldog Security system has a provision to run the vehical for 25 minutes
everytime the battery is detected below 11.8 volts. It does use more gas in
the winter though.
John Ferrell
6241 Phillippi Rd
Julian NC 27283
Phone: (336)685-9606
RemoveMEjohnferrellTakeThisOuTspamearthlink.net
http://DixieNC.US
NSRCA 479 AMA 4190  W8CCW
"My Competition is Not My Enemy"

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2003\12\31@203729 by Darrell Wyatt

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Nate,

Look into marine batteries.  They are intended for deep cycling.  I don't
have the electrical load
in my Jeep that you do in yours ( LOVE MY JEEPS!! ), but I've had good luck
with marine batteries
in all my off-road vehicles.  They don't cost what they're asking for
Optimas, either.

D.

Artificial Intelligence is no match for Natural Stupidity.


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