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Flat vehicle battery due to Lockdown


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I'm hoping to get a vehicle started after Lockdown ends, and the battery is very likely to be flat, as the vehicle has not been driven for many months since about Nov 2020. If it is charged up will it ever be any use after that. Its a Bosch. What I don't want is for me to drive off somewhere and then have it fail to start for the journey home. I guess many of you are in a similar situation with your MVs.

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I had a heart attack with my Contractor when I found that I had left the master switch "ON" for several weeks due to COVID.  I was gutted when I found out. Fortunately they did take a charge and now seem to work perfectly well.  

On the Conqueror ARV have made a timer system so that a Contactor (sic) opens after about 20 minutes being closed and thus isolates the batteries.  (Don't ask why I have installed this system!!)   Unfortunately, that would not be a safe system for a road going vehicle.

John

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If the battery has gone flat and has been like that for months, then it is highly likely that it won't hold a charge very well once you charge it up again, Lead-acid batteries do not like being left flat for a long time. You could try giving it a conditioning charge from good "smart" charger such as a CTEK, doing this will often help a damaged battery recover some of its lost capacity and make it usable again. Unfortunately the only way to find out how well your battery still works is to try it, and you do run the risk of it letting you down while you do this.

Towards the beginning of lockdown I made a significant investment in CTEK chargers, and the batteries from all of my vehicles have either been continuously connected to a smart charger or have been boost charged regularly. Hopefully this has maintained the serviceability of the batteries, the signs are good so far. I suspect that this has been a good year for the vehicle battery supplier business. In fact, one of the several pieces of advice I gave my staff a year ago when I sent them home was to remember to at the very least start and run their car regularly whilst locked down to preserve the battery.

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If the battey has dropped so low it appears not to take a charge.Take another battery and charge the two in parrallel. A lot of Smart chargers wont work if the battery has to low a residual charge., so the second battery tricks it. Leave as a pair for twenty minutes or so, then try seperate. I've used this technique a number of times and got Dead battries back.

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I would have run the vehicle's engine if I was not prevented from getting access. Can I claim on the Government as compensation or get anything back for the upset of sending a relatively new battery for scrap. 

BTW if I charge the battery in parallel and the dead battery comes to life will it ever be back to normal? 

Also are those battery booster boxes (like the AA use) any good on a dead battery?

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I use a  RING  Smart charger with analyser  ,   because you need to know what capability the battery has for holding the stated CCA.     A battery that can't be reconditioned above approx.  70%  whilst it remains serviceable under some conditions , it can be totally useless on starting a high demand application - such as a diesel engine (the immediate drain is too much to handle).

Conventional wisdom is that a good lead acid battery is  charged at terminal voltage  12 to 12.5 ,   however such a battery at 70% capacity  when between  12.2 and 12.4 volts is useless.     Between  14 & 14.5  volts the same battery would show no problems at all.   Regular journey with a good alternator and this  70% of a battery will show 14.7 volts.   (15 volts is a overcharge situation).

With a RING Smart charger ,  a new battery should when charged show  100% capacity.   Modern cars with alarm and processor on'ish with Ign. key out ,  it is a good as a parasitic drain if left without a run out for a few days.  If it is not a total PITA - such as re-set radio code , clock, date /time etc.  - then disconnect / reconnect at the battery, if you don't then sulphation will start and  'maintenance'  trickle will be unable to achieve  100%  and the slide down has started - this is why you need a good modern intelligent microprocessor (fully automatic) left coupled to the battery  -  I use a few cheap but good  (£14 @  Lidl)  Ultimate Speed - good for a heavier re-charge , however without that all important capacity analyser.

 

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2 hours ago, LarryH57 said:

I would have run the vehicle's engine if I was not prevented from getting access. Can I claim on the Government as compensation or get anything back for the upset of sending a relatively new battery for scrap. 

BTW if I charge the battery in parallel and the dead battery comes to life will it ever be back to normal? 

Also are those battery booster boxes (like the AA use) any good on a dead battery?

Worth a try , a newish battery can withstand a drop to  10.5/11.5 volt (flat) better than a old battery,  also a newer battery stands up better to sulphation , therefore a full recovery is more probable. I would first try a 'soft-start' using such as a Ultimate charger that incorporates a "pulse charge" to recharge flat batteries . £14 at Lidl  (and fully automatic)  - my older BC1  / BC2 Draper Intelligent and maintainers are now more or less redundant.

I think battery  'boosters' are quite harsh but OK for occasional emergency use, more possiblity to plate / seperator  distortion - I always use a spare battery and jump-leads.

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I've got an Ultimate that came from Lidl years ago, about £6 then 🤣 My favourite! Has a dual charge 6 and 12 which is great for me. A slow charger , but to 100% and reliable. I'd recommend one over  a lot of Flashy , expensive chargers. As for battery parrell charging, depends on the battery some you win some you don't , but worth the try. AA chargers ,any battery only has a certain capacity, I've never quite understood how a couple of AA's will replace a massive great Lead /Acid. Leving aside Oddessey or Optima batteries, can't afford them,  Yuasa are my preference.

Edited by Tony B
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I also have a Lidl ultimate battery charger which is good value but recent purchased a noco battery charger and whilst expensive it's excellent . There's a 12v repair cycle that has revived a few old batteries 

 

Jenkinov

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In the days of screw top cells & periodic top-up ,  it was common practice with commercial operators to drain off the electrolyte with a follow up flush to wash out all the detritus, then re-fill and re-charge.    I don't know if the present low/nil maintenance batteries are lifetime clean of detritus ?   If not then this will be a cause of 'end of all practical life'  ,  the other is that the older the battery , then the soft sulphation sets into the hard sulphation ,   some tablet cure may cure ?      Probably time to buy a new battery ,  I have had a Continental Tudor (Exide)  last 14 + years from new , failure was my fault - I should have coupled a maintainer trickle charger when I stopped using the car for 2 - 3 week spells..

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Cycling is key with modern batteries to stop sulphation.  The ctek's and equivalent chargers will discharge to a certain level and recharge periodically. But with the smaller maintenance chargers you want to start with a good charged battery and then it will last for years. Most of our older vehicles will have no drain when standing and also more than likely have an isolator. I tested a customers battery that had been untouched for two years, but stored clean and dry, and it was perfectly servicable just needed a charge. For the more modern vehicles if not isolated, grab a multi meter, set it to the biggest amp range and disconnect one of the cables. Check your current draw with everything off and doors closed as it would be left normally. The drain should be zero or minimal. Now select a maintenance charger that is more than the drain current. You can get away with a very small charger as long as it is greater than the drain. I fit solar panels to horse boxes and if the right one is used they can be very cost effective too. But they don't cycle the batteries. 

As for jump starting you can get away with a cheap boost pack if there are no electronics even if the batteries are dead. But, as mentioned,  if in doubt charge the batteries first, it's the safest way on a modern vehicle, unless you have a sophisticated boost pack. A modern vehicle should restart after ten minutes after being jump started, but old alternators or dynamos can take a good long drive to get the battery back up. 

Any local garage should be able to give a battery a health check once you have charged it. Or you can buy a tester now that uses your mobile phone to operate and display the results. I can't remember the last time I saw an old fashioned battery drop tester with a dial gauge on.

Anyhow that's my opinions aired and I should go get on with something useful in the garden or maybe I'll pop to the Foden.......

Edited by Motleyholt
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 Martin !! Are you implying my  Draper tin box tester is old fashioned? 🤣 Not a lot to go wrong on them though.

Edited by Tony B
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The relevance of most of this advice is dependent on the type of lead-acid battery - is it a conventional wet lead-acid or an AGM?  AGM batteries such as the Odyssey or (MOD fitted) Hawker have a much lower self-discharge current and can safely be left for up to a year without charging.  Most modern vehicles, particularly those with stop-start, have AGM batteries as standard.

Another vote for CTEK chargers by the way, I used to use PulseTech but when they transferred their manufacturing from Mexico to China the quality dropped like a stone.

Andy

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I till have my  35 year +  Chloride   resistance-bank  "drop-tester"  ,  handy tool still.  I suppose you could kill a very small and totally weak battery , in fact tyre/battery concerns by use of 'misadventure' used to boost their sales by leaving their probes on a bit too long.  Apparently the motorist would be back in a few days/weeks for a replacement.

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I left two cars / batteries for the duration of the first lockdown, a Mercedes diesel and a Smart car.  Both were understandably pancaked.  

The Smart car jump started and has been fine ever since, the Mercedes battery would hold enough charge to start for one day but no longer, so it was replaced.   I bought two ten watt solar panels and left one on the dash of each car to trickle charge it when not in use.  Both have been fine ever since even after standing during the second lockdown.

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Not quite on the same scale, I have an old quad bike which as an experiment I fitted a cheap gel battery to around ten years ago. Plugged into it is a small (10" x 4" approx) Maplins solar panel hung vertically, facing west on the outside wall of the shed. The bike stands for 6 to 8 months at a time, sometimes a year without even the shed door being opened, but it's never failed to start on the button every time when asked.

Small beans I know, but proves the tech is out there.

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8 hours ago, Tony B said:

 Martin !! Are you implying my  Draper tin box tester is old fashioned? 🤣 Not a lot to go wrong on them though.

Lol absolutely nothing wrong with them at all, used them for years. A new electric tester gives so much more info and allows testing of all the new breeds of battery. As well as testing the charge output from the vehicle.

Besides it makes it easier for your roadside assister to flog you a battery when the screen says bad and replace. Even though a good charger will fix it with no problem.

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Is there anyone who does a reasonably priced maintenance charger that does 6v, 12v and 24v? All three of my vehicles have different voltages and it would be nice to have one charger I could periodically swap from vehicle to vehicle.

Fortunately over the whole of lockdown, my Jeeps were kept at home and I saw the lockdown coming last March and put the Dodge up on axle stands and removed the battery to bring home to look after.

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i recently bought a smart charger from ebay for £13.99 and was happy with it's performance. it will charge 6 12 and 24v.  its yellow and black and looks a bit like a multimeter, the manufacturer is katbo

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