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Lead/Acid Battery - Annual Maintenance/checks


Ian Kinder (Bagpuss) - Joint Peak District AO
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In Jan 2019, I decided to check my battery for the first time (4 years old- supplied new by WSC with my kit, 3 years on the car with Circa 13,000 miles covered). It is kept charged via a Ctek when home too.

 

It was the standard Banner Starting Bull item part number 530-030, which shows:

image.png.16d632526093e06fc10c5e1ed5f09c63.png

 

However their data sheet shows:

image.png.25ddb5c1cec15ce81409a479659d5a36.png

 

All the cells needed a 'drink' and circa 0.5L of distilled water was added!

 

The caps for the cells have a vent hole:

 

image.png.b54fe187ab70bef11266e66aba98e4b3.png

 

So given the front mounted position behind the radiator, perhaps the heat helps the water/acid evaporate/escape.

 

Voltage tests should the volts to be 12.5V back then and ideally should be over 12.6V. It was starting okay.

image.png.9cf294c64751032ae5012857d9a2ff4d.png

 

Cranking tests, showed (with fuel pump fuse removed):

 

 

 

As you'll see it started (damm!) and then cut out as the fuel rail lost pressure. Subsequent cranking sounded fine to me though the volts shouldn't really drop bellow 10V on cranking.

 

Given it just had a top up and had not really been driven, I'll see how it goes over the next month.......

 

A few days later, it was measuring 13.2V on charge from the Ctek and only 12.3V with the Ctek off, so I replaced with a new item of exactly the same type (£65 delivered).

 

Because of the 'early' expiry of the first item, I've decided to do annual checks on my battery now.

 

In Feb 2020, no voltages checked, however electrolyte topped up slightly (no cells dry).

 

Yesterday, I've checked again.

 

Given the 'rumours' of Batteries being killed by use of Ctek's, I recorded the charging voltage as:

 

image.png.a0a893f1d30a5bca792783115299af13.png

  

 

I then switched off my Ctek and the volts were:

 

image.png.f6de303f7549d6f4ac57c6491a2fca38.png

 

I then left it for 10 mins and it had dropped to:

 

image.png.27a1c7ebd6612b0dc02aa63fa43a561e.png

 

So, still a good battery.

 

I still checked the electrolyte levels in all cells with a clean lolly pop stick

 

image.png.63e90fcce8448b072c4e78ce03950ae1.png

 

Which showed the level to be 10-15mm per cell above the plates.

 

Given the impact of Covid 19 on the use of my car last year, I'm not surprised the electrolyte hasn't disappeared as much a previously. 

 

I currently feel this battery is destined to last longer then the previous item with annual maintenance and there's no issue with using a Ctek.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Ian Kinder (Bagpuss) - Joint Peak District AO changed the title to Lead/Acid Battery - Annual Maintenance/checks

I have a 'smart charger' as well but it's never left permanently connected, I may put it on perhaps once a week if needed, I didn't see the point in simply 'boiling' away the electrolyte when I don't need the car. I do check the levels once a year and its never needed more than perhaps a thimble full per cell every few years. The current battery is 7 years old so far, so yes it's definitely worth checking when you can. Good reminder for folks Ian, although I wonder just how many of us still use last centuries battery tech...😃 

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I've had loads of these "clever chargers" over many years on power tools, often called by the manufacturers intelligent. Have found them all to be wanting when providing a trickle/top up status and the battery needing to be used to make them work properly, worst situation was with the 6v traction batteries where they would fail regularly when not used.

One of my battery suppliers always said that he stored the stock batteries on wooden bases and if they were not new stock would partially discharge them at monthly intervals, a little extreme when fitted to a vehicle but personally I leave the batteries alone only charging at extended periods.

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While the "i only breath on it twice a decade!" approach is fine if it suits the car, bear in mind quite a lot of more recent Westfields have immobilisers on them, with the resultant parasitic losses, so it's just not possible to leave them for months with charging.

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I've had mine on a smart charger every winter for 21 years now. First battery lasted 13 years and second one still going strong. Can't remember last time I had to top the cells up

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Sad to report my 2nd Banner battery is on it's way out. I suspect it's another victim of lockdown and with it not being used from Dec to March (despite being on the Ctek) has killed it! It's 2 year warranty expired in Jan :bangshead:

 

I'm not buying another Banner item, I'm following @Greenstreak-Andy D's lead and bough the same as him- AGM12-31 Exide Motorcycle Battery 12V (4990) from Tayna batteries. Tayna Batteries

 

I started it and drove to it's MOT in March (nice 1 hr journey, as I'm picky as to who I let MOT my car). It needed to be jumped to start after the MOT, which I put down to the alternator belt not being as tight as it should be. However further checks have shown it's not holding charge.

 

A good guide I've found shows:

 

image.png.59b2f10ae6dfe646a9aeb88c1e7d1cb1.png

 

Whilst mine is showing 12.6V when I disconnect the charger. If I put it on slight load (rad fan/lights) it's soon down to 12V.

 

With the fuel pump fuse out and the starter pressed, it stays above 10V whilst cranking. Below 10V is a definite sign to replace.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Ian Kinder (Bagpuss) - Joint Peak District AO said:

Sad to report my 2nd Banner battery is on it's way out. I suspect it's another victim of lockdown and with it not being used from Dec to March (despite being on the Ctek) has killed it! It's 2 year warranty expired in Jan :bangshead:

 

I'm not buying another Banner item, I'm following @Greenstreak-Andy D's lead and bough the same as him- AGM12-31 Exide Motorcycle Battery 12V (4990) from Tayna batteries. Tayna Batteries

 

I started it and drove to it's MOT in March (nice 1 hr journey, as I'm picky as to who I let MOT my car). It needed to be jumped to start after the MOT, which I put down to the alternator belt not being as tight as it should be. However further checks have shown it's not holding charge.

 

A good guide I've found shows:

 

image.png.59b2f10ae6dfe646a9aeb88c1e7d1cb1.png

 

Whilst mine is showing 12.6V when I disconnect the charger. If I put it on slight load (rad fan/lights) it's soon down to 12V.

 

With the fuel pump fuse out and the starter pressed, it stays above 10V whilst cranking. Below 10V is a definite sign to replace.

 

 

Interested to hear your thoughts. Maintenance free too which is only a good thing! CCA is impressive. 
Andy

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I got my Leoch EB30-3 from Tayna today and it seems good. An AGM battery for £58 and double the warranty of the Exide. They also had Mobil 3000 for £26 so I got one of those too. £8 postage for the lot. 

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Voltage alone is not a measure of a good battery.
 

I've just changed out my battery, charged it for 3 days on my ctek, put it onto a battery capacity tester at 5A constant drain, after 3.6 hours it was flat, the overall capacity measured was 18AH, down from it's original 42AH.

The real problem with a bad battery, is it can turn over the engine, BUT the voltage drops so low that the ignition coil can't generate a decent spark.

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i find it interesting that many are still choosing to fit lead/ acid batts rather than the modern lithium based ones, being an old school bloke i am using lead/acid too. is there a reason why some  still using old school tech...

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On 27/04/2021 at 21:46, OldStager said:

i find it interesting that many are still choosing to fit lead/ acid batts rather than the modern lithium based ones, being an old school bloke i am using lead/acid too. is there a reason why some  still using old school tech...


Lithium batteries and heat are a bad mix, not to mention in the event of an accident a punctured lithium cell would cause one hell of a fire.
Charging circuit is more complex too, you can't just charge them as a lead/acid battery, they're also not meant to be float charged.
Expensive too......

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New Banner on mine, no maintenance charger lasts a month at a time(still easily starts the car) with no charge.

Geared starter motor makes a mega difference.

Trouble is people embrace new technology, but feel the need to dismiss old tech. at the same time.

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Good to hear you like the banner item @MR.C How old is your battery though, as mine was fine when new. The first lasted 3 years and my second just over two. I may change my use of the Ctek for this item and see how it gets on. Perhaps only charging one a month etc.

 

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8 hours ago, MR.C said:

Trouble is people embrace new technology, but feel the need to dismiss old tech. at the same time.


That's mostly down to marketing, often times if people knew the facts then they wouldn't be so keen.

For example i'm noticing a sharp increase in marketing from UK ethanol manufacturers on social media, with respect to running cars on pure ethanol, followed by comments from idiots about how great it is for the environment, followed by comments from bikers and classic car owners who are less enthusiastic........ And of course we only need look back to 2009 to see how bad the "diesel revolution" was.

Lithium batteries have some pretty impressive advantages, and I can see why people use them, size and weight being the obvious one, the energy density in a lithium battery is the best of any widely available battery technology, but this advantage is what makes it more dangerous if things go wrong.
 

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29 minutes ago, Ian Kinder (Bagpuss) - Joint Peak District AO said:

I may change my use of the Ctek for this item and see how it gets on. Perhaps only charging one a month etc.

 

I've never been a fan of maintenance chargers. Mainly because I don't like leaving batteries on charge unnatended and secondly for our type of cars I just don't think it's needed. If laid up over winter just charge the battery and disconnect it. My ickle agm battery was left for over 3 months disconnected and it took about 20 mins on the charger to bring it back to 100%. 

 

For occasional use cars that are heavily electronic and are a nightmare if the battery Is left disconnected I can understand the maintenance chargers. But I still wouldn't just leave them alone for any great length of time. 

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