Short in battery, car in storage? - Chevy Impala SS Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-10-2016, 05:59 PM Thread Starter
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Short in battery, car in storage?

Everyone,

I don't have any experience with this one, does anyone know anything about this.

I have a car in storage in my garage, I only go in there like once a month.

The battery is on the "Battery Tender" brand trickle charger.

The lights were flashing on the charger and the car is dead.

When I checked it out, I can see one of the cells off gassed and there's a small pile of white/yellow chalky substance right at that cell at the cap. I'm thinking the cell completely evaporated and has nothing in it.

How does that happen? And, is it safe to fill the cell up and charge the battery? Or, is it likely the battery will now be completely dead and/or not safe to use?

Ugh! It's always something!
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-10-2016, 06:47 PM
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You could remove it from the car, top it off with distilled water and give it a try. Charge it on a low setting at first.

I don't know if it will work, but if it doesn't, at least the battery is out of the car. I'd sit it in a heavy plastic tote, with no lid of course, just for insurance.

If you do need a battery, I'd consider Optima. I know some don't like them, but I have one that sat for close to a year and was fully charged when I checked it. It WAS disconnected though.

I've put a battery conditioner on it, but since it's closed cell, I don't have to worry about it drying up.

If you're storing your car for long periods, you might consider leaving your battery disconnected as well.

Hope it works for you.

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-10-2016, 07:17 PM Thread Starter
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I never thought of disconnecting the battery, I think it's a good idea.

It's just that those side terminals aren't as easy to deal with as top terminals.

I had thought the battery conditioner would be fine for long periods of time. I'm pretty surprised the cell went completely empty.

I'm thinking there might be no mechanical damage in there, just nothing to complete the circuit in that cell since it's dry?

But I know once a battery is dead like that it's not good at all when you're trying to bring it back from completely dead.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-11-2016, 06:53 AM
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Your battery has a "Dead cell". It is bad and not repairable.

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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-11-2016, 10:02 AM
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Poor Quality in new batteries

I use to replace a battery at seven years and at that time the store would still say it was good. They would be surprised to see it was that old.

My last three in different vehicles have all had single cell failure. Crown Victoria at one year. (dead in driveway after a weekend). Dodge truck hard to start at two years starting @ eight volts after four. The truck would always test "OK" when I got to the battery store. The Caprice is going the way of the truck at the four year mark.

I have never had this much trouble with batteries in my life and there is no common factor. One is daily driven, one a month, one is parked for the winter. They are all placed on solar chargers if they are parked for a week or more.

I have been thinking if they are not going to last three years I should start buying cheap ones.

If you disconnect your battery it should still be charged once a month. All battery types self discharge at different rates.

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-11-2016, 08:04 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, there seems sometimes to be no predicting what life you'll get out of a battery.

I wonder if they're cheaping out on the construction these days?

At any rate thank you for the input.

Lee
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-10-2016, 03:14 AM
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It's pretty hard to dry out a cell in a good battery with a wall wart battery tender. They generate very low current once the battery hits about 12.6 volts (resting voltage). However ... if one of your other cells is dead (shorted), and the overall voltage never gets to 12.6, sure the current can "cook" the good cells dry. Takes a good while and you still need enough current from the trickle charger, but I've seen it.

You battery is likely toast. If you want, fill it with distilled water, charge it, take it to Autozone or Sears and have them test it (free). You'll know immediately. I'm betting the dry cell is not the bad cell, another is bad ... else the float current would not have been able to cook the water out of it.

Car batteries live in harsh conditions. 5 years is a solid average life. If you are nice to them, they will last 6-7 years. If you are tough on them (heat, cold, vibration, lots of starts, lots of accessories), you'll get maybe 4-5 years or less. Any battery that fails within 2 years was defective from day one (or treated very very badly).

Don't waste your money on extended year warranty batteries. It's just marketing. The prorated money you get back in those last two years is trivial and really just sends you back to the place you bought the first one to get another one.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-10-2016, 03:35 AM
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K3000-a,

I would say that the construction technology of primary cells is actually probably better today than in the past. Better power density, power to weight, purer materials and chemistry, etc. However, like everything we buy today, the dollar talks. Profits are king. Hence ... I don't think we get the quality and longevity we could get for the $5 it would cost the manufacturer. Sad.

Best advice. If you go to start your car and oops, you left the lights on, and it's really really weak, but it might just start. Don't start it, charge it up first (you can run to the store an hour later). The lower the voltage, the higher the cranking current demand by the starter. You can take a happy battery and kill it doing that. The plates can warp and short out. The alternator will then dump heavy currents into that dead battery (once the car starts). Now that's cooking something.

When it's really really cold out, skip the trip to get that six pack till the suns is out and a bit warmer. Note ... a dead battery will freeze like a bottle of water. A charged battery will not (for typical temperatures).
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-10-2016, 11:34 AM
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Winter Extras

My winter car has a battery blanket (80 Watt) that goes on with the block heater. When it gets to -30 I have a "dumb" trickle charger bolted to the fender that gets plugged in.

My memory is that at -30 the car needs twice the power to start but the battery has half the capacity. The battery blanket and charger warm the battery making the cold start easier.

I have found that I can improve the odds of a battery surviving by looking at three factors. One find the largest battery that fits in the battery tray. Two find the battery with the largest reserve amp rating. Last check is the cold cranking amp rating.

In the 1980s I had a lifetime warranty battery. When it was changed out the counter guy pointed out the high CCA rating and small size. Two batterys in six months later I got "special permission" to try a physically larger battery with a lower CCA rating. This one lasted several years even though it was not a "lifetime warranty" battery. After that I had to show a written note from the manager to explain that I had "lifetime warranty" on their cheapest battery.

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-10-2016, 06:19 PM Thread Starter
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This is all GREAT thoughts guys.

At the moment I'm sort of over it and letting it sit another month or two.

I'm thinking just get a new battery and move on!

L.
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