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Thread: "Pregnant" battery

  1. #1
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    "Pregnant" battery

    What would cause a battery to become swollen in the middle (no offense meant to pregnant women or beer lovers)? I know that distorted lead plates caused this, but I need to know how to avoid a reoccurance with my new battery. There also was a jagged hole in the side of the plastic case, but I couldn't see the corner of a lead plate sticking out.

    The previous (original) owner used to replace the battery every two years, while this one lasted for four years. I use the car only once a week, though.

    I noticed that the paint was stripped below and around the battery when I bought the car, so I'm guessing that a previous battery leaked too.

    In addition, the battery would always be wet on top. Am I adding too much distilled water?

    Since it's winter and I use the car only once a week, can I keep my (just bought) battery trickle charger permanently connected? Do I have to leave the hood open as the instructions state?

    Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Sounds like maybe it was overcharged, or maybe froze somehow. As far as the trickle charger, it should be okay as long as it has some sort of sensor that will stop charging when the battery is full, and start again when it starts to drop. I picked up one from WalMart for $20 that does this. It's a 1amp/2amp charger, and on the one amp setting, it works like a charm to leave it plugged in as long as you want. I'm fighting a problem with my SC with it not charging the battery back up for some reason(on my third alternator and all wires from alternator to battery are good) so Every few days I have to re-charge the battery overnight.

  3. #3
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    overcharged, get your altenater checked

  4. #4
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    Definately sounds like an overcharged battery.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the answers. I'll measure the voltage before and while running the car just to be sure it's the alternator, although I suspect that you guys are right because I found a few drops of acid on the top of the new battery. Looks like it's time to dig out the spare alternator.

  6. #6
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    This is what I did:
    1) Installed a new battery two days ago (battery was shipped to the store in October).
    2) Drove for approximately 1 hour yesterday.
    3) Fully charged the battery using a trickle charger today.
    4) Battery voltage before starting the car was 13.4 volts at 40 deg F.
    5) Battery voltage after starting the car was 14.5 volts.
    So is the alternator good or do I need to run the car for a while and then check the voltage?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.D.
    This is what I did:

    4) Battery voltage before starting the car was 13.4 volts at 40 deg F.
    5) Battery voltage after starting the car was 14.5 volts.
    So is the alternator good or do I need to run the car for a while and then check the voltage?
    That looks like a good voltage. Is your meter analog or digital? It could be that you're getting voltage spikes (a digital meter usually won't show this unless it's a nice fluke unit that holds max readings) Try measuring with an analog meter and see if the voltage fluctuates at all.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebigslide
    That looks like a good voltage. Is your meter analog or digital? It could be that you're getting voltage spikes (a digital meter usually won't show this unless it's a nice fluke unit that holds max readings) Try measuring with an analog meter and see if the voltage fluctuates at all.
    I'm using a digital Fluke 83 Series III with min/max recording. I tried both the 100ms and 1s response times when measuring the max voltage since I don't know which is more appropriate for measuring alternator spikes. The max voltage at the battery remained 14.5v (14.3v with A/C, blower at max, headlights and interior lights) for a period of 1 minute.
    Is 1 minute a long enough time or should I connect the Fluke to the battery and go for a drive?
    Should I be measuring at the alternator instead of the battery?

  9. #9
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    Take it to Autozone or equivalent parts store and have them check it with thier roll around tester. They will have you rev the enine to 2K RPM and hold it there while the machine does the testing. It will read max voltage and amps as well. But if you are gettin 14.5V at idle, I woudl have to say the voltage regulator is doing it's jab, at least at idle. I had a alternator with a bad voltage regulator that was putting out 15.5V at idle. Bad juju there. Also, I would recomend buying an Optima battery. They won't expand like the normal batteries, will last a lot longer, look better under the hood, and are lighter to make you go faster(hehehe)

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by HSKR
    Take it to Autozone or equivalent parts store and have them check it with thier roll around tester. They will have you rev the enine to 2K RPM and hold it there while the machine does the testing. It will read max voltage and amps as well. But if you are gettin 14.5V at idle, I woudl have to say the voltage regulator is doing it's jab, at least at idle. I had a alternator with a bad voltage regulator that was putting out 15.5V at idle. Bad juju there. Also, I would recomend buying an Optima battery. They won't expand like the normal batteries, will last a lot longer, look better under the hood, and are lighter to make you go faster(hehehe)
    Thanks for the reply. I think I'll first measure the max voltage with my meter while driving, before I risk putting my car in someone else's hands. I don't think I need to be concerned about measuring current as my battery is not undercharged (am I right?). As a final resort, I'll search for an auto parts store where employees are not allowed to wear sharp belt buckles.

  11. #11
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    Looking back at the original question. What can make the battery bow out.

    #1) The battery froze.

    #2) The battery has been overcharged (the gases can't get out fast enough so they bow out the sides of the case. Very dangerous)

    #3) The battery hold down is crushing the battery. The Stock MN12 battery bay holds the battery down by it's bottom with a wedge type design. If you switch to a clamp across the top, it may be possible to overtighten that clamp causing pressure to crush the battery, possibly bowing out the sides.
    Changing the oil - The movie
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.D.
    I'm using a digital Fluke 83 Series III with min/max recording. I tried both the 100ms and 1s response times when measuring the max voltage since I don't know which is more appropriate for measuring alternator spikes. The max voltage at the battery remained 14.5v (14.3v with A/C, blower at max, headlights and interior lights) for a period of 1 minute.
    Is 1 minute a long enough time or should I connect the Fluke to the battery and go for a drive?
    Should I be measuring at the alternator instead of the battery?
    Let us know what was going on during the drive. It's possible that once the alternator gets revving, there's an overcharging problem.

    as per the other possibilities: #1) The battery froze. - needs to be about -30C (I think that's about -25F) and it's not that cold in UT yet.

    #2) The trickle charger. Not a good idea to leave them connected. Disconnect the battery if the car is going to sit. Yes, the hood needs to be open. When batteries are charging, they vent H2 gas which is explosive. Imaging your starter making a spark at just the right time when you've a gas pocket under your hood. If the hood's up, the H2 will rise (much lighter than air).

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike8675309
    Looking back at the original question. What can make the battery bow out.

    #1) The battery froze.

    #2) The battery has been overcharged (the gases can't get out fast enough so they bow out the sides of the case. Very dangerous)

    #3) The battery hold down is crushing the battery. The Stock MN12 battery bay holds the battery down by it's bottom with a wedge type design. If you switch to a clamp across the top, it may be possible to overtighten that clamp causing pressure to crush the battery, possibly bowing out the sides.
    1) We did have a couple of frosty mornings.
    2) Would overcharging cause acid to come out from the two rectangular caps/covers on the top of the battery?
    3) The battery hold down is stock.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebigslide
    Let us know what was going on during the drive. It's possible that once the alternator gets revving, there's an overcharging problem.

    as per the other possibilities: #1) The battery froze. - needs to be about -30C (I think that's about -25F) and it's not that cold in UT yet.

    #2) The trickle charger. Not a good idea to leave them connected. Disconnect the battery if the car is going to sit. Yes, the hood needs to be open. When batteries are charging, they vent H2 gas which is explosive. Imaging your starter making a spark at just the right time when you've a gas pocket under your hood. If the hood's up, the H2 will rise (much lighter than air).
    We've had some snow/hail/rain throughout the day and so I haven't taken the car out. Hopefully, tomorrow will be better.
    I bought the trickle charger specifically to keep the battery warm and prevent it from freezing. The instructions state that the current is a few mA and "the battery can be left charging indefinitely". I noticed that the charger and the battery are not warm to the touch during trickle charging, which is a good sign.
    I don't want to disconnect the battery as I run the car once a week. I'll keep the hood up, though. I'll also prop it up as the hood struts tend to give way when it's very cold and I don't want the hood crashing down on the charger clamps and wires and causing a short.
    I'll check the electrolyte level periodically. Should it just cover the plates or can it be higher?

  15. #15
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    Long term use of trickle chargers isn't generally recommended. Unless it is a very specific design, it can overcharge the battery creating excess hydrogen gas which can lead to the bowing out of the battery casing.

    Yes there are vents that allow the gas to escape, but if it produces the gas faster than it can escape it can deform the battery case.

    There are trickle chargers with advanced circuitry that will hold a battery below the gassing voltage when trickle charging them. Those are the kind you want if you're going to keep a constant trickle on it. Battery Tender is one type I've heard of. Motorcycle owners like them.
    Changing the oil - The movie
    Changing a rear wheel bearing video
    90 SC AOD
    93 SC 5spd -441hp/462tq *SOLD*

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