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519 posts

Ultimate Geek
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Topic # 224057 31-Oct-2017 11:10
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My old Corolla is on its last legs (or wheels) but I want to keep it running until Christmas at least.

 

Mechanically, it's not too bad, but the battery is quite duff. It'll still start the car - just - as long as I run the engine every day.

 

But I was wondering if I can slightly increase its lifespan, maybe by adding distilled water?

 

Only thing is, it's one of those batteries that has a little window (which shows nothing, not even black) so I wondered if I were to drill a hole in the window, I might be able to add water.

 

Ideas please.


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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 1893028 31-Oct-2017 11:16
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So its a 'sealed' or 'maintenance free' battery?

 

They sometimes hide the plastic hatches on the top of the battery under labels/stickers.

 

Are you sure there arent a couple of plastic hatches that you can pop a screw driver under to pop open?

 

Be very carefull of acid though.

 

Wouldnt want to try and drill a battery - batteries contain Hydrogen gas - it could explode....

 

Try putting "topping up maintenance free car battery" into a youtube search.





Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself - A. H. Weiler

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1893034 31-Oct-2017 11:20
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Have you tried recharging the battery properly?


 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 1893036 31-Oct-2017 11:29
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Mattmannz:

 

Have you tried recharging the battery properly?

 

 

If it has never had the electrolyte topped up it wont charge very well....





Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself - A. H. Weiler



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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1893187 31-Oct-2017 15:05
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It's been charged a few times using a regular charger.

 

 

Maybe I could fill it with acid out of another battery?

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1893214 31-Oct-2017 15:46
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There is a lot of quackery and false hope advice around when it comes to batteries but the short story is that once they're done, they're done.

 

Filling it with acid isn't likely to help because it won't be deficient of acid.

 

The two things that it runs out of is water (this decomposes into oxygen gas and Hydrogen gas during overcharging), and active material on the plates, which goes hard/sulphates, or falls off the plates.

 

'IF' it is low on water, adding distilled water may help at little, but only open caps to replenish it. Don't drill holes - if you overshoot and short the plates with the drill bit, the resulting spark will likely cause the battery to explode in your face. Water only needs to just barely cover the plates - it needs a generous air-gap in the top of the cells otherwise it spits the acid out.

 

There is nothing you can do to replace the active material that has either fallen off the plates or sulphated/gone hard through being left discharged.

 

There are possibly other things wrong that can't be repaired - such as the plates and buss bars cracking, and shed active material in the bottom of the battery shorting the plates together. 

 

Is it worth the stress of having an unreliable battery? How many tanks of gas does a budget battery cost? How much is your time worth? You know it is waiting for the worst possible time to finally let you down.

 

Edit: grammar.

 

 




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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1893294 31-Oct-2017 20:21
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Thanks, Tripper. Yeah, know what you mean, I've been fiddling about with cars ever since the 50's.

 

But over the years I've found that if you never try any of things that are supposed to be hard, impossible or even forbidden, you'll keep going down the same track as the 99% of the population who soak up urban myths and folklore and consider these things to be a form of gospel.

 

Personally, I think you'd be more likely to ignite the methane in a fart than detonate the small amount of hydrogen that a spent battery might contain.

 

But who knows? Only one way to find out.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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  Reply # 1893376 31-Oct-2017 22:44
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If your alternator is working properly, the battery should still have practically all of the water that it left the factory with. Batteries mainly needed topping up in old cars that had mechanical voltage regulators. As those regulators only provided very rudimentary voltage regulation, meaning they always massively overcharged the battery.

 

Check that the charging voltage is correct. Around 14V while the engine is running is good. Also if the car is mostly used for short trips, the battery will struggle to charge properly. I have seen failed voltage regulators and wiring faults result in an battery that gets barely any charge. And have also seen the opposite - Alternator going "open loop". Meaning it puts out as much voltage as possible. Which then quickly destroys the battery, causes all of the light bulbs to blow quickly, and if you are unlucky - it destroys your engine computer.

 

 






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  Reply # 1893380 31-Oct-2017 23:44
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geekIT:

Thanks, Tripper. Yeah, know what you mean, I've been fiddling about with cars ever since the 50's.


But over the years I've found that if you never try any of things that are supposed to be hard, impossible or even forbidden, you'll keep going down the same track as the 99% of the population who soak up urban myths and folklore and consider these things to be a form of gospel.


Personally, I think you'd be more likely to ignite the methane in a fart than detonate the small amount of hydrogen that a spent battery might contain.


But who knows? Only one way to find out.


 


 


 


A workmate was grinding in a garage with a charging battery on the bench. He a lot of acid to clean up and had to buy a new battery.
Don't underestimate the hydrogens.




Location: Dunedin

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1893381 31-Oct-2017 23:54
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Short term temporary fix: Drop a few pool chlorine crystals into each cell - ¼tsp each.





"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
- John Stuart Mill


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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1893461 1-Nov-2017 09:36
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cadman:

 

Short term temporary fix: Drop a few pool chlorine crystals into each cell - ¼tsp each.

 

 

Definitely and absolutely do not do the above!!!!

 

2 reasons.

 

1) It could kill you. After doing the above the battery will expel a lot a chlorine gas when being charged, and inside a garage/workshop it builds up and is lethal. Chloride has been used in Syria to kill. 

 

2) It will kill the battery - no doubt about it. Free ion's in the electrolyte conduct current, effectively shorting the plates together and causing the battery to rapidly self discharge - this is exactly why you only put distilled water in a battery and if it was OK to do this, it would be OK to put chlorinated tap water in a battery.

 

 

 

Expanding on point 1, there have been fatalities from people trying to recharge batteries that came out of sunk boats - salt water gets in (Sodium Chloride), they recharged the battery and lots of chlorine gas came out. One of my employees unknowingly tried to recharge a battery fully a salt water in our workshop and within a few minutes his eyes and lungs were burning. He figured it was the battery, turned it off and went outside for fresh air, so no long term consequences that day thankfully.

 

 

 

As for batteries exploding - it happens - I've witnessed 2 battery explosions that blew batteries to pieces and made a huge mess. The first was the same as described above - caused by grinder sparks in the workshop, the second exploded when trying to start a generator. We think the negative terminal was loose and sparked when the starter cranked up, igniting the gas.

 

Edit: Spelling.


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  Reply # 1893462 1-Nov-2017 09:38
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I'd suggest talking to your local car wrecker, they might give you a secondhand battery for a reasonable price, there is some value even in a dead battery, so they might swap you with a slightly better one for a few $$.

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1893467 1-Nov-2017 09:52
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Here is what the generator battery looked like afterwards.

 

The battery that blew up the in workshop gave the floor a nice acid wash. There was white footprints where the guys walked the acid around the workshop.

 

Edit: picture link didn't work first time.


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  Reply # 1893514 1-Nov-2017 10:39
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geekIT:But over the years I've found that if you never try any of things that are supposed to be hard, impossible or even forbidden, you'll keep going down the same track as the 99% of the population who soak up urban myths and folklore and consider these things to be a form of gospel.

 

Well necessity is the mother of invention but battery chemistry is well understood, they've been around since the 1700's after all. There aren't many unturned stones left to turn for lead acid batteries, hence the world is moving on to lithium etc to make better batteries.

 

They are only mysterious to people because they're hidden inside a case. If they had glass cases and you could see the wear on the plates as easily as brakes and tires, you'd laugh just as much as the assertion that some household chemical could restore worn tyres, brake pads & clutches.

 

If you want your batteries to last, the key points are to look after them. Never intentionally let them go flat, and when they do go flat, recharge them with a charger as soon a practical. A battery kept at 100% charge has a shelf life around 5 years. A flat battery will the totally useless after 3 months. A battery at 40, 50 or 60% charge is dying at a rate inverse to its state of charge. It takes 8 - 24 hours to fully recharge a battery - 8 hours of driving could take weeks to accumulate, but 8 hours on a mains charger is easy. Also don't be tempted to fit undersized batteries. A battery that gets given a hiding every time you start up won't last long.


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  Reply # 1893905 1-Nov-2017 21:39
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tripper1000:

 

 

 

cadman:

 

Short term temporary fix: Drop a few pool chlorine crystals into each cell - ¼tsp each.

 

 

Definitely and absolutely do not do the above!!!!

 

 

Done it many times.





"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
- John Stuart Mill


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  Reply # 1893941 1-Nov-2017 22:21
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I have bought back a battery that wouldnt crank a car but held voltage ok for a while with one of those clip in desulphator thingies - wasnt expecting much, and didnt get much but it changed it from always needing a jump start to being able to go a week and still start, got a few more months out of the car battery before winter came and it finally wasnt up to it.

 

Reason it was stuffed was being left flat for ages. Tried several times to just charge it up and it would kinda start when fresh off the charger but that was a had to start first go or there was no hope of it situation.





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