Car Battery Maintenance

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  • 12-01-2015
    arphaxhad
    Car Battery Maintenance
    Now that I commotion my bike, my car sits for long periods. Anybody using a float charger to keep the ol' car ready to go? This latest cold snap killed my battery unexpectedly
  • 12-01-2015
    yzedf
    Battery Tender
  • 12-01-2015
    EugeneTheJeep
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by yzedf View Post
    Battery Tender

    Yep Battery Tender, I use it with my old truck that might sit for a week or 2 without starting. Super easy to use just plug it in and forget about it when the light turns green.
  • 12-01-2015
    Flamingtaco
    I use a solar battery charger in my truck that is designed for vehicles (13.6V output, IIRC). Has a long cord, so when the truck's in the garage I can set the panel in the window. Can charge anywhere in the daytime or where there is a light source available at night (street lamps, neon signs, etc), no 120V plug required.
  • 12-01-2015
    BuickGN
    I use a battery Tender on my Acura every day. I drive it 1.4 miles each way to work so the alternator has no chance of recovering the battery from the start, especially with a seat heater and rear defogger going.

    A cars alternator does a very poor job of properly charging the battery. It's usually nowhere near a full charge even after a several hour trip down the freeway. The Tender took almost 3 days to turn green the first time I hooked it up. Now it's usually green in 15-20 mins, sometimes longer in the winter. The engine turns over noticeably faster when starting. It also helps preserve starter life.

    I have the Battery Minder on the BMW and GN. It seems to be superior (temperature compensated and it's a desulphating charger which usually means a lifetime battery) than the Tender.

    The Acura has a battery in the front so I installed the pigtail that came with it to plug it in at the grill. The other two cars have the battery in the trunk. The BMW has a huge dry cell. The GN has a tiny motorcycle sized dry cell (it might make 720hp at the crank but it's still just a low compression V6 to the starter). The GN charges in no time. The BMW can take hours each day. The BMW tries to only run the alternator when the energy is free such as coasting and stopping. The alternator is usually off or at full power with very little in between.

    Something to think about if you make lots of short trips, newer cars don't run the alternator all the time. It's on a need to run basis. If my Acuras battery is topped off, and the alternator does not have to run for the whole 1.4 miles, that's about 3.5hp less consumed. When you figure it takes only 30hp to maintain 45mph or 5hp to idle the engine at a light, it can show up as improved mpg but it is subtle and hard to measure without great records and consistency.

    The BMW has the start stop feature and I notice with the battery being charged all night, the engine shuts off almost every time I stop and it will stay off much longer at say, a long drive through. This definitely saves fuel.

    I went way off topic with my rambling but the Battery Tender Jr is nice and portable and works well but lacks some of the features of the next model up and I believe temperature compensation is one of them.

    The Battery Minder includes desulphating which is a huge feature IMO. None will overcharge the battery even after months. Once fully topped off it continues to monitor and charge very slowly when needed. At its lowest, the rate is lower than my iPad charger.

    These are not for charging a dead battery. They will but prepare to leave it for a week. The desulphating charger can bring an old battery that won't take a charge back to life. Used as a maintainence charger it never gives the chance for the crap to form on the plates in the first place and it's likely the battery will last the lifetime of the car in my experience.
  • 12-01-2015
    Volsung
    Did you just admit to driving 2.8 miles round trip in a bike commuting forum?
  • 12-01-2015
    Oh My Sack!
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Volsung View Post
    Did you just admit to driving 2.8 miles round trip in a bike commuting forum?

    You noticed that, too?! :lol:
  • 12-01-2015
    CommuterBoy
    ^^ :lol:

    I don't use anything on my Jeep. The battery is horrible. Below freezing, and it's a gamble. It's part of the overall charm of the old Jeep experience.
  • 12-02-2015
    sweetfilly7
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Oh My Sack! View Post
    You noticed that, too?! :lol:

    Yeah, I scratched my head a little at that one as well. :???:
  • 12-02-2015
    bedwards1000
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Flamingtaco View Post
    I use a solar battery charger in my truck that is designed for vehicles (13.6V output, IIRC). Has a long cord, so when the truck's in the garage I can set the panel in the window. Can charge anywhere in the daytime or where there is a light source available at night (street lamps, neon signs, etc), no 120V plug required.

    There is absolutely no way you are topping off your battery with a solar charger and a neon sign or even streetlight for that matter.
  • 12-02-2015
    BrianMc
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by CommuterBoy View Post
    ^^ :lol:

    I don't use anything on my Jeep. The battery is horrible. Below freezing, and it's a gamble. It's part of the overall charm of the old Jeep experience.

    A cheap alternative to battery and block heaters is a incandescent bulb trouble light placed under the hood with an old blanket, sleeping bag, or moving quilt spread over the hood and weighed down so it is not blown off. A plastic sheet will also be needed if temps are too high and rain is expected. This setup can be placed before use of the vehicle or set on a timer. Cranking amps rise steeply with increased battery temps and engine cranking resistance drops almost equally steeply so that it doesn't take a lot of heat to get an old battery to start a formerly cold engine with an old starter.
  • 12-02-2015
    jeffscott
    If it is over four years old and giving trouble replace it.

    my car sits outside for weeks at a time and still starts at -30C....

    Battery was new in 2010 so I only have a couple of years left.
  • 12-02-2015
    CommuterBoy
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by BrianMc View Post
    A cheap alternative to battery and block heaters is a incandescent bulb trouble light placed under the hood with an old blanket, sleeping bag, or moving quilt spread over the hood and weighed down so it is not blown off. A plastic sheet will also be needed if temps are too high and rain is expected. This setup can be placed before use of the vehicle or set on a timer. Cranking amps rise steeply with increased battery temps and engine cranking resistance drops almost equally steeply so that it doesn't take a lot of heat to get an old battery to start a formerly cold engine with an old starter.

    It's less time consuming to just park within jumper-cable distance of my wife's car :lol:
    (Her ride always has a new battery in it because our kids destroy batteries by leaving doors open and dome lights on ALL THE FLIPPING TIME. That thing gets a new battery every 2 or 3 years because it's been killed dead 7 or 8 times and won't take a charge anymore :lol:)
  • 12-02-2015
    formula4speed
    I actually haven't done anything for my battery and my car can easily sit for a week or more. Still works fine and it's 7 years old. I might replace it this year preemptively because I'm likely on borrowed time.
  • 12-02-2015
    yzedf
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by formula4speed View Post
    I actually haven't done anything for my battery and my car can easily sit for a week or more. Still works fine and it's 7 years old. I might replace it this year preemptively because I'm likely on borrowed time.

    Hook up a voltmeter to the battery and start the car from dead cold. If voltage drops below 10.0V during startup it's time for a new battery.
  • 12-02-2015
    mtbxplorer
    Probably not a good idea for routine use, but for the occasional problem with the car (or lawn tractor), I find one of those portable jump starters handy, extra points for a compressor to inflate a low tire or the BMX Schraeders. I keep it plugged in all the time so it is at 100% when I need it. I got mine at Sears, and they even shipped it free since it was not at the closest mini-Sears, which is crazy since it weighs nearly as much as a car battery.
  • 12-02-2015
    EugeneTheJeep
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by CommuterBoy View Post
    It's part of the overall charm of the old Jeep experience.

    How old is your Jeep? My old one is a 78 J10 pickup (grille my avatar) ;)

    OP where do you park your car? That will make a difference on what to use too. Garage, driveway, out in the street?
  • 12-02-2015
    Oh My Sack!
    D'oh! I had a fully restored '55 Willys pick-up with the original flathead Super Hurricane 6 cyl with a Warn overdrive. Should have kept that one!

    Those Jumpstart packs are the bomb if you invest in a good one. I got one at Costco probably 10-15 years ago. Used it 3 times this week, once for me and twice for my neighbor that kills batteries regularly in her minivan. It goes on the offshore boat and any trip I drive on, as well.
  • 12-02-2015
    Volsung
    The directors of Walking Dead should read this thread and realize that cars can't just sit there for years and then be driven off. Even the gas goes bad faster than that.
  • 12-02-2015
    Flamingtaco
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bedwards1000 View Post
    There is absolutely no way you are topping off your battery with a solar charger and a neon sign or even streetlight for that matter.

    Yeah, well, the fluke says I have a useful output under those conditions, so...
  • 12-02-2015
    BuickGN
    I would never make jump starting a normal part of starting my rarely used car. Once completely drained they're rarely ever the same again. They lose capacity each time they're run dead. Plus, modern cars don't like to be jump started with a completely drained battery, I've seen tons of ECUs and other components fried instantly from it and ironically sometimes from removing the cables as soon as the dead car starts.

    I run a block heater along with a smart charger on my daily driver '06 TL. I live in a warm climate and the car is garaged. The heater is to reduce engine wear to practically nothing and the charger is to keep the $208 Diehard Platinum lasting for a very long time and for reliability and because the car isn't driven far enough to fully charge the battery via the alternator.

    To the others concerned about my personal life, it's suicide to ride a bike to work in this area but I do it occasionally on casual days. Otherwise I'm not showing up for work sweaty in a suit or dress clothes. My work provides E-bikes to commute as well but sometimes I have to drive to a field location and I'm not going to ride a bike back home to pick up my car when time is important.
  • 12-03-2015
    arphaxhad
    Thanks for all the feedback on float chargers. (and other useful tidbits)

    Fyi...my commute is 1.8 mi in the morning and 1.2 home (gotta get my coffee) on a 37 year-old Schwinn LeTour converted to a SS 42x16 with Magicshine strobes front and back for visibility.