Car battery won't hold a Charge??? - Maintenance and Repair Forum

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Car battery won't hold a Charge???
Thursday, January 24, 2008 3:56 PM
Hello all

This is what is happening with my car. Back in Nov 07 took it off the road with a new battery from June 2007 650 Cold Cranking amp (was only $55) well every two weeks I would start it. not a problem and at the time well it was sitting my alarm was armed and still ran.

We even had some -18 days and not a problem

3 weeks ago I went to run it and the LCD remote when I pushed unlock would not work and looked like it was fading or the battery was dead

So had to use the key to open the door, was waiting for the alarm to go off

DEAD the interior light was dead nothing

put my DMM on the battery reads 10v WOW ,get it going let it run for the 15mins arm it and go away

Now these last 2 weeks the same thing is going on but the battery reads 5v now etc have even unplugged the alarm brain and still the same thing

Well today I hooked the booster pack up and waited a good 5 mins and started her, my HU started to flash etc it reset itself of all things never in the years have I owned the car did this happen.

So it ran for 20mins,Turned it off tried the trunk pop it works lock/unlock etc good, well I try to RS the car,

The doors lock and then Click,Click,Click etc

So I turn it off

Go to start the car and guess what Click Click, Dead in less then 2 mins wonít turn over nothing


so my question is

Do you think the Alt is the problem

Or could my starter be stuck open and is draining the battery to those levels

Or Could 4 of my batteries cells be dead

Also I noticed the side of the battery is starting to bulge out but that could be my eyes to

Just looking for some good old help on this Iím almost %100 sure on what is going on but want to make sure

Thanks

Re: Car battery won't hold a Charge???
Thursday, January 24, 2008 4:56 PM
Take the battery out and put it on a proper charger, then measure the voltage. If it was too deeply discharged in those cold temperatures, it may have frozen, or begun to freeze. If the case it bulged out to the point that you think it's damaged, you may want to replace it. You don't want to deal with a leaking or exploding battery!
If you do get it charged, it should sit at a minimum of 12.6V. Any less than this indicates a problem with at least one cell. If it's under warranty - try to get it replaced.
When you put it back into the car and start the car, (assuming it's good at this point) you will likely see over 14V if the alternator is working - maybe over 15 if it's still very cold outside. If it's only reading around 13V or less, then it isn't charging properly or at all. I would then want to get the alternator bench tested. Many auto parts stores will do this for no charge if you bring in the part.
If the voltage reads as expected, you then need to find out what's draining it. This can be a tedious process of elimination, but necessary if there's a problem.
Hopefully this will help you figure things out.
John
Re: Car battery won't hold a Charge???
Thursday, January 24, 2008 6:35 PM
John S wrote:

Take the battery out and put it on a proper charger, then measure the voltage. If it was too deeply discharged in those cold temperatures, it may have frozen, or begun to freeze. If the case it bulged out to the point that you think it's damaged, you may want to replace it. You don't want to deal with a leaking or exploding battery!
If you do get it charged, it should sit at a minimum of 12.6V. Any less than this indicates a problem with at least one cell. If it's under warranty - try to get it replaced.
When you put it back into the car and start the car, (assuming it's good at this point) you will likely see over 14V if the alternator is working - maybe over 15 if it's still very cold outside. If it's only reading around 13V or less, then it isn't charging properly or at all. I would then want to get the alternator bench tested. Many auto parts stores will do this for no charge if you bring in the part.
If the voltage reads as expected, you then need to find out what's draining it. This can be a tedious process of elimination, but necessary if there's a problem.
Hopefully this will help you figure things out.
John


Thanks for the reply

O yes I know all about the perfect battery 12.666V LOL,When we did get into Dec and I was starting it,it would sit at about 12.4v before I went and turned the key

So maybe the battery is frozen and I should just have it warm up

Now,when it was sitting at the 5v and I put the pack on it shot up to about 12.2-12.3 before I started it and when it was running it went to around 14.8-15.1

So maybe everything is pointing to it being frozen still and when I will it a quick charge it can't hold it yet

It has a 6 year warranty replacement on it from Wal-mart but I don't have the Receipt and they won't take the serial number and look it up have been to a few

So thats why I'm very mad from getting a battery in June and can't get a new one
Re: Car battery won't hold a Charge???
Thursday, January 24, 2008 7:01 PM
It may be sulfated slightly from sitting with a low charge - but being fairly new hopefully this can be corrected.
I would try putting it on a trickle charge for at least a day, or maybe two. 1-2 amps max. This may help to get the battery "working" properly again. It sounds like your charging system is doing the job. I would still check for parasitic drains. Ideally, disconnect the battery if you're not sure.
When I went away for a few weeks last year, I put a small solar panel on my dashboard to help keep the battery topped-up. I picked it up for $10 on sale (reg. $30), and it works like a charm. I've picked up a couple more for my boat battery and my "summer car" which gets driven only occasionally. I even made up an adapter for one that I use to keep my booster pack charged-up in the house. They keep my batteries at full voltage all of the time, and they're free to run! The ones I got only put out about 180mA, so if your battery is discharged you would need to use a larger charger first, but these are great as maintainers. I have a 300mA one I use for the booster pack for faster charges.
If it really is a defective battery, I would be quite disappointed that Walmart wouldn't honor your warranty - there should be a date code somewhere on the battery that they can reference. I worked in retail, so I know that dealing with returns minus a receipt is sometimes difficult, but a lack of customer service certainly doesn't promote future sales!
Try the charging first and hope for the best.
Good Luck!
John
P.S. - if you bring the battery inside for charging, make sure you've got it somewhere that is ventilated. Hydrogen gas is highly explosive, as you're likely aware. My father-in-law blew all the windows out of his basement once from doing this.
Re: Car battery won't hold a Charge???
Thursday, January 24, 2008 7:31 PM
That's also why you NEVER jump a dead battery with both clips on the terminals. You ALWAYS connect the negative side last to a chassis ground AWAY from the battery! Sometimes Murphy's Law will happen to you and you WILL have a battery explode because you jumped it by connecting the clips to the terminals directly. BZZT! BOOOOM!!


------------------------------------
We all drive in a yellow Cavalier...
Re: Car battery won't hold a Charge???
Friday, January 25, 2008 7:23 AM
John S wrote:

It may be sulfated slightly from sitting with a low charge - but being fairly new hopefully this can be corrected.
I would try putting it on a trickle charge for at least a day, or maybe two. 1-2 amps max. This may help to get the battery "working" properly again. It sounds like your charging system is doing the job. I would still check for parasitic drains. Ideally, disconnect the battery if you're not sure.
When I went away for a few weeks last year, I put a small solar panel on my dashboard to help keep the battery topped-up. I picked it up for $10 on sale (reg. $30), and it works like a charm. I've picked up a couple more for my boat battery and my "summer car" which gets driven only occasionally. I even made up an adapter for one that I use to keep my booster pack charged-up in the house. They keep my batteries at full voltage all of the time, and they're free to run! The ones I got only put out about 180mA, so if your battery is discharged you would need to use a larger charger first, but these are great as maintainers. I have a 300mA one I use for the booster pack for faster charges.
If it really is a defective battery, I would be quite disappointed that Walmart wouldn't honor your warranty - there should be a date code somewhere on the battery that they can reference. I worked in retail, so I know that dealing with returns minus a receipt is sometimes difficult, but a lack of customer service certainly doesn't promote future sales!
Try the charging first and hope for the best.
Good Luck!
John
P.S. - if you bring the battery inside for charging, make sure you've got it somewhere that is ventilated. Hydrogen gas is highly explosive, as you're likely aware. My father-in-law blew all the windows out of his basement once from doing this.


I just found a 2 amp trickle charger that I bought it Dec that I'm goiing to use,so I will put it on for the week and see what happens

I really don't want to take the battery out unless I have to replace it as my alarm settings might be resert

TO this Parastic Drains HOW do you test for this,never have heard of this????

But thanks for all your help so far

Also I should just hooked both +/- terminals direct to the battery,I read what the other guy said and well I always that,that was when you were using battery cables not a booster pack.

I have never had anything happen to me knock on wood,so I will just keep doing it the same way unlill I get some real facts or the battery goes boom in my face HAHA

But thanks again man
Re: Car battery won't hold a Charge???
Friday, January 25, 2008 11:34 AM
I would test for a Parasitic Drain by charging the battery and leaving it sit, dissconnected from the car.



Re: Car battery won't hold a Charge???
Friday, January 25, 2008 3:09 PM
Well lets just say everybody my Battery is @!#$

I put my 1A trickle charger on it today,it shot up to 13.78 So closed the hood and went out

I went to test it tonight

It reads 12.23 and then began to go up 12.24-12.25 etc I thought WTF it got up to 12.71

So I opened the door and did the DMM again, 12.1 this time.I then closed the door and it began to climb again it can't even hold a charge with the F'n door open and a charger on it.
Re: Car battery won't hold a Charge???
Friday, January 25, 2008 6:42 PM
Did the charger die? It seems odd that the voltage would DECREASE between this morning and tonight. I've seen stranger things happen...
To test for a parasitic drain, you need to be able to disconnect the battery and then use a DMM with at least a 10 amp range to measure for current between the disconnected (negative) cable and the battery terminal. This will indicate how much current is flowing through the connection. Even with an aftermarket alarm, anything over 50mA would be a bit high in my mind - certainly never over 100mA. Just don't try turning on any lights or ignition when doing this - you'll overload the meter. Ideally you really need a jig to hold the connections in place while you work on the car.
If you find that the drain is high, start to remove fuses one at a time where you suspect the drain may be coming from. If it doesn't affect it, put the fuse back and try another.
Once you locate the offending circuit, you need to find out what all is on that circuit. If it powers more than one thing, then you may have to find each of the modules and unplug them separately until you see the current drop.
As you can probably see, this can be time consuming and tricky. Make sure you've got a known good charger on that battery first to validate it. Believe it or not, even just the interior light WILL cause the battery voltage to slowly decrease if you're watching it with a DMM. Your voltage sounded a little low still, but not too much. Maybe borrow another charger just to try? It's the cheapest and easiest thing I can think of to do first. My 1A charger doesn't even have a light to indicate it's working - but it usually brings the voltage up to near 14V under no load when it's plugged in. I would unplug it before loading down the battery at all so you don't burn it out. Those things are usually made pretty cheaply.
Re: Car battery won't hold a Charge???
Friday, January 25, 2008 8:51 PM
Quote:

TO this Parastic Drains HOW do you test for this,never have heard of this????


http://www.toolsource.com/parasitic-draw-test-switch-p-61590.html?sourceid=froogle

Or, remove negative cable from battery. Use your DMM set on amps. Put the positive on the battery terminal, negative on the cable. Check the value. Should be .2 amps or less









Re: Car battery won't hold a Charge???
Saturday, January 26, 2008 7:33 AM
you mean like this



Re: Car battery won't hold a Charge???
Saturday, January 26, 2008 8:19 PM
NO! I'm not quite sure what the black box represents (I'm guessing the terminal), but that would be BAD. Well, you'd at least get a small light show, and maybe some flames if you're lucky enough for your meter to not be fused, so that may be mildly entertaining...
To avoid that - try this:
Step 1 - disconnect negative terminal from battery.
Step 2 - connect positive lead from meter to negative battery cable
Step 3 - connect negative lead from meter to negative terminal on battery
This is putting your meter in series with the power going to the car, so that it can measure how much current is being drawn from the battery. It's the opposite of checking voltage (parallel). You have the right leads in use on your meter illustration, but that positive lead shouldn't go anywhere near the positive terminal on the battery when trying to measure current in this way.
Kardain said to have the terminals the opposite way for polarity. I believe that I'm correct with mine - but it won't matter much either way for this test. Any meter I've ever used will simply read negative when connected backwards.
Kardain also mentioned that the draw should be .2 amps or less. I still would like to stick to my original statement of being no more than 100mA (0.1A). Any car I've worked on typically never drew more than about 40mA (0.04A) when off. If it was much more than this, they would likely run into a lot of issues whenever have cars sit for several weeks in shipping yards. 0.2 probably wouldn't cause a problem over a few days, but I know from past experience that just a little more than that can definitely kill the battery. I had a customer once who only used their car about once a week - and suddenly they would find it dead when they went to use it. If I remember correctly, it was drawing about 270mA (0.27A) - and that killed it over a week of sitting. I traced it down to the keyless entry receiver - it was drawing about 250mA by itself. We had to replace the module, but then it was all back to normal (about 30mA). That was in a Pontiac Grand Prix - so I would hope that yours wouldn't be too much worse - unless your alarm is really power hungry.
Re: Car battery won't hold a Charge???
Saturday, January 26, 2008 8:37 PM

^^Visual representation of above instructions, red line is battery positive, purple is DMM positive, blue = DMM neg, black = battery Neg.

Mine also will read negative if they are backwards, so...

Ok, I looked through my service manual again, and .02 - .03 is recommended. (what a difference a 0 makes)

.025 amps should hold charge for ~30 days till critical.
.05 should hold charge for ~16.














Re: Car battery won't hold a Charge???
Monday, January 28, 2008 8:49 AM
Alright before I go and @!#$ up my DMM

I do this

1,plug the + red lead into the 10Amax plug

2,set it to Volts

3,Place the + red lead on the neg battery term after I disconnect it

4,place Neg term - on the Top post of the battery
Re: Car battery won't hold a Charge???
Monday, January 28, 2008 9:40 AM

Re: Car battery won't hold a Charge???
Monday, January 28, 2008 3:58 PM
You're wanting to measure current, so you'll need to set the meter to measure Amps, not Volts. There should be a range for 10A DC. If that's your meter in the picture, it should be located at the bottom on the left, in red print.

I didn't realize that you have a dual terminal battery - but that won't really make any difference.

I'll try to make it clearer this time.

With the negative battery terminal disconnected:
1. You can connect the black lead from your meter to EITHER negative terminal on the battery - it won't matter which.
2. You connect the red lead from your meter to the Negative CABLE that you just removed from the battery, or the engine block if that's easier.

Now your meter is in series between the car's electrical system and the battery. Remember that at this point ALL power being drawn by the car is going through the meter, so be careful what you turn on. 10A isn't that much at 12V. You're only doing this to check to see what is being drawn when NOTHING is on. After you connect this, let it settle for a minute or so to get a proper reading. Sometimes there is a bit of a surge at first, while certain components and capacitors charge up. You want to see what it's CONSTANTLY drawing.

My previous recommendations with current limits still apply.

Hopefully you'll just find out that the battery is pooched - it's easier to replace than trying to figure out what may be drawing too much power. It's just good to rule out a potential cause.

Any more luck trying to charge it? Just curious.
John
Re: Car battery won't hold a Charge???
Monday, January 28, 2008 6:24 PM
Hey

That is not my DMM but that is my Battery

So I do move the + led to the 10A on the DMM through

I was going to give it a boost and then measure it all as its at 2.37 right now
Re: Car battery won't hold a Charge???
Monday, January 28, 2008 11:00 PM
Quote:

Alright before I go and @!#$ up my DMM


If its not raining/snowing tomorrow, I'll get an actual pic of how it should be set up.









Re: Car battery won't hold a Charge???
Tuesday, January 29, 2008 9:02 AM
Kardain wrote:

Quote:

Alright before I go and @!#$ up my DMM


If its not raining/snowing tomorrow, I'll get an actual pic of how it should be set up.


So what I wrote is still wrong

Hey

That is not my DMM but that is my Battery

So I do move the + led to the 10A on the DMM through like in my picture or just leave it in the other slot and put the DMM on the 10A scale and go on my way

I was going to give it a boost and then measure it all as its at 2.37 right now

Re: Car battery won't hold a Charge???
Wednesday, January 30, 2008 4:40 PM
Yes, move the lead to the 10A range as shown, and put the DMM on the 10A scale.
If it's down to 2.37V, you've definitely got something draining it down. You really should do what you can to properly charge that battery - it's unlikely to do so in your car unless you go for a long drive, and it's going to be hard on the alternator.
Make sure you charge it soon - don't let it freeze! You may need a larger charger - 6-10A to bring that back to life. A trickle one probably won't cut it from that voltage. Some automatic chargers may also have trouble with it that low - you'd have to try and see. Repeated boosting and deep discharging will cut that battery's life very short.
The battery needs to be charged before you try the current draw test - otherwise it won't be accurate.
Hope you get it figured out soon! At least you should hopefully be able to look back on this as a learning experience...
John
Re: Car battery won't hold a Charge???
Friday, May 30, 2008 6:13 AM
Hey John S

Thanks for all your help

As to the Battery I took it in and they Could'ed even get a Reading So I got a NEW one build date Dec 2007


Well Everything has been fine for the last few months starts every time etc

Until two Days ago

Went to start it click-click, 11.23v did a Jump ran fine and the Alt charged it,Started it in the afternoon everything was fine

well May 29 2008 went to start and was at 6.70V

So all the @!#$ is happening again

Not one issue up to these Days

I hope I didn't get a Bad battery again but I will test it today


1,Take off Neg Battery Terminal
2,Put NEG DMM Lead on it
3,Do 10A scale
4,Then Put + lead from DMM on the + terminal on the battery


Then see what reading I get

THANKS AGAIN FOR ALL YOUR HELP JOHN AGAIN

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