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Glurp
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Topic # 198345 5-Jul-2016 12:31
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My car is a 2003 Diamante. It is well-maintained, no issues of any kind. It often sits unused for a week or more but it always starts immediately and the battery always sounds strong. Until yesterday. I last used it a few days ago, but it hasn't been sitting as long as usual. When I tried to start the battery was absolutely flat, no sign of anything, no click, no interior light, no engine LEDs. I checked the voltage and it was around 3 volts. 

 

I put the battery on the charger and this morning the car started normally. I now have to decide if the battery is faulty or if something could be draining it. My intention is to let the car sit for another day or two, and see what it does. When reattaching the battery I noticed a fair spark with everything turned off but I suppose that could be just the computers and solenoids resetting themselves. I'm not sure exactly how that works with modern cars. I have no way of checking any drain on the battery other than touching the contact on.

 

In my distant past experience, batteries tended to fail gradually. They would grow weaker and weaker over time, and hold a charge for shorter and shorter periods. Yet everything technical that I touch these days seems radically different from what I grew up with. So what should I expect from a modern battery? Can it suddenly and completely fail without any prior indication the way mine did yesterday, or is there likely to be something else going on? 





I reject your reality and substitute my own. - Adam Savage
 


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  Reply # 1586372 5-Jul-2016 12:38
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Short answer: yes

 

How old is your battery?

 

Our car (a Honda 2012 model) is often unused for weeks on end, and has suffered repeated "sudden" battery failures, even with a new heavy duty battery.

 

An auto electrician can find no faults.

 

We solved the problem by leaving our car on a trickle charger when unused. A minor inconvenience, but better than a flat battery.





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gzt

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  Reply # 1586379 5-Jul-2016 12:43
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Yes, they can. What is the age of the battery?

gzt

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  Reply # 1586381 5-Jul-2016 12:45
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Interesting comments about the spark/drain. I wonder what the number is. It is normal in my experience.



Glurp
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  Reply # 1586382 5-Jul-2016 12:46
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Not sure of the age. Battery came with the car when I bought it a year ago. Looks like new but of course that doesn't mean anything.

 

 





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  Reply # 1586386 5-Jul-2016 12:52
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My sister has a similar vintage Galant. Last time she had a flat battery I think in the end we put it down to leaving a door slightly unlatched so the interior light stayed on. When I was checking battery drain I did notice that the car didn't drop down to minimum drain for about 30 secs after being switched off. As you say probably electronics taking time to shut down.


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  Reply # 1586388 5-Jul-2016 12:57
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we have an after market alarm which i think might be draining the battery on our spare car.


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  Reply # 1586395 5-Jul-2016 13:10
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Yes, the cells in the battery can fail suddenly and completely. I had this happen a couple of years back with a ~6 year old battery. One day it was fine, next it was dead.

 

RACV (Like the AA) came out and used a machine to test it with diagnosis of cell failure, and swapped it for a new one on site.





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  Reply # 1586419 5-Jul-2016 13:23
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My last one died overnight. Bought a new one and have had no issues for a year, so it wasn't the car.




Glurp
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  Reply # 1586442 5-Jul-2016 13:46
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Okay thanks for the stories. Very helpful. I will replace the battery.

 

 





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  Reply # 1586447 5-Jul-2016 13:58
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Rikkitic:

 

Okay thanks for the stories. Very helpful. I will replace the battery.

 

 

If you've a meter you could first check the current drain when the car is off, it should be next to nothing.  If it's more than a few milliamps then that could be the issue.  Otherwise, yeah it's probably the battery, a good overnight charge might see it right for a while longer.

 

Edit: I see you've not got a meter... a small 12v bulb will do it, like an indicator bulb. If it lights up (in series with the battery -ve to ground wire for example) then there's an issue.  If not you are probably OK.


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  Reply # 1586452 5-Jul-2016 14:09
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The cold weather and where you park the vehicle will have an impact. As you say typically though you notice hard starting before it becomes an issue but not always.

 

 

 

A standard multi meter can measure current draw, disconnect the earth lead and insert the meter in series to give you current draw at rest. Typically you wouldn't want anything more than about 50 milliamps, 0.05 amps at rest.


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  Reply # 1586497 5-Jul-2016 15:51
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Btw which vehicle was 50mA measured on? or is that normal for a range. Only reason I'm asking on connection the spark looks more than this : ).

Edit: mid 90's starlet I use occasionally.

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  Reply # 1586525 5-Jul-2016 16:32
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Happened to me twice :( :(

 

Once at Wardbirds over Wairarapa, end of a long hot day. Fortunately I had some friends who helped me get another battery.

 

Once, at dusk, near the head of a long queue at the Bunnythorpe railway crossing. It was a long train, so I had turned the car off. When the train had gone, my car wouldn't start. Just to add to the fun, I'd bought a table-trolley thing which didn't fit inside the car, but did just fit (and looked very weird) with the sunroof off. And then it started to rain.

 

 


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  Reply # 1586554 5-Jul-2016 17:39
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We had an issue with an 03 lancer - the auto electrician traced it to the air con relay not switching off when the car was turned off - so completely drained the battery over night.  If it's a sudden change, I would get an auto electrician to look over it.

 

 


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  Reply # 1586608 5-Jul-2016 18:42
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Have you ever seen anything that fail gradually?

First half the right light, then half the left light then half the ...
Or a coffee machine makes half a coffee, then 2/3rd ...

Things just give up :(

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