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Charging the Battery


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Hi all,

Let's have a game of ... "spot the bloke who bought his car factory built because he doesn't have a clue!"

Haven't driven the car for a few months now due to bad weather and time constraints (Christmas in the classroom!;)

Anyway, I'm guessing that the battery will be very flat when next I try to start up the old what-je-ma-call-it, you know thing-a-me-bob, doohickey ... erm ... Engine, that's it.

Now it's a blade engine - do I need to get a bike charger or is the battery a car one?

Are they the same anyway?

Please keep answers very simple to understand.

i.e. Yes you need a special one


Not you b***, they are all the same.


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1. hopefully your battery will still start the car. I leave have left bike and car batteries over 6-8 months and as long as there are no electrical leaks in the system there shoudl be enough go.

2. Either way Bike or Car battery a trickle charger is the best bet if you have the time. Go down to you local car bits place and buy a 4 amp 12v charger and put in on your battery overnight.

Boost Charging whilst good for getting you going, damages battery life at best, and can cause the battery to expel masses of explosive hydrogen gas (or at least it is exlosive in air). I once blew the bonnet and me off a car using one of these and always treat them with caution.


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I have a bike battery conditioner attached to mine (Zetec) all winter.  Works perfectly and comes with a 'plug-in' lead which means, if you can position the plug somewhere accessible, you don't even have to take the bonnet off to disconnect it.  From memory about £25.  www.bannerbatteries.com.   :)

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So assuming the battery is in good nick, is it a better option to take all load off it,clock, alarm etc? then recharge when eventually flat. Or would it be better to deliberately leave some load on and trickle charge say once per week thus keeping the battery "cycling"? Also whats the feeling on running the engine up to normal working temp again once per week or so? I've found that my VX engine on full synthetic oil completly drains oilways over this period, and needs 5 or 6 seconds cranking to build pressure before igniton can safely be applied. Maybe this is the exercise the battery needs?


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If you're going to start it, drive it. There is nothing worse for an engine than starting it, letting it tick over for a while, then shutting it down again (well there is, but not by a lot...). It'll eventually knacker the battery too. My car suffers loss of oil pressure on start up when left, so I usually crank it over with the coil isolated until pressure starts to read on the guage. Then start as normal. Likewise, when driving the car regularly, I NEVER warm it up by letting it idle. I get in, start it, wait 'til oil pressure and tickover stabilise, then drive. I avoid thrashing it for the first 10 minutes, which is how long most oils take to reach "normal" (or, more likely, adequate) operating temperature..............

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I would say that the best bet for keeping a battery in good condition during periods of inactivity is to keep it trickle charging all the time. Make sure, however, that it is really trickle charging as if a charger is to be left connected permanently it must not over charge the battery. Get a properly regulated trickle charger or conditioner and check that when connected the battery terminal voltage does not exceed 14 volts (ideally 13.8) and that the current settles to a tenth of an amp or so. You can leave all small loads (alarm, immobiliser, clock, etc.) connected and they will be powered by the charger.

I connect a small trickle charger using a spare connector on the wiring loom (the "accessory" connector on the Westfield loom). This has the advantage that you don't have to take the bonnet off, it's obvious that it's connected since the wire comes out from under the dash and most importantly, the circuit is fused in the car, so if the charger develops a fault, or the leads to it are damaged there is no change of it torching your car and garage!

I always get rather nervous when attaching chargers directly to battery terminals since the battery can dish out several hundred amps if there's a fault and the leads with most trickle chargers can handle about 5 amps before incinerating.

Starting periodically will not do the engine or the battery much good since you rapidly discharge the battery whilst cranking (especially if you wait for the oil pressure to come up) and then rapidly charge it at 50 amps or more when the engine starts. You will need to run the engine for a long time to replace the charge lost whilst cranking and rapid charging does not benefit the battery. You could, of course, get out the wooly hat and gloves and go for a lengthy blat. That's probably beneficial to driver as well as engine and battery!


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I also belong to the "bought from factory" class of Westie drivers and while I only have a *cough* Zetec engine, I like to keep the beastie going through the Winter. Also has the added smile factor of watching peoples faces as you roar past wearing a stupid hat and frozen grimace.

Trying to convince the wife that if she sits in the passenger seat, I'll have better cornering balance is almost as much fun too  :D


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Ian Podmore

Lead Acid batteries should NEVER be totally discharged after the first intial charging.  It will greatly harm the battery.

A lead acid battery should always be stored fully charged.

I too have got one of the Banner Batteries chargers and also fully recomend them.  I leave it conected when not driving the car, using the connector provided and do not need to remove the bonnet.  The connector that comes with it is connected to the battery terminals and is stored by the front nearside suspension mounting.

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