Car doesn't start because of weak battery. But starts after 4 tries. Why?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by fuzzybabybunny, Feb 16, 2013.

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  1. Ferzerp

    Ferzerp Diamond Member

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    The overly high current for that type of battery may be heating it up, and if it is cold, that would explain the short rise in delivered amps.
     
  2. HeXen

    HeXen Diamond Member

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    Then you still NEED the isolator and another battery like Kinectics, it's not hard at all to setup, it's simply just another Positive and Negative wire, you can get heavy guage copper wires cheapest from Welding suppliers usually.

    If you don't then 2 things are inevitable. You can constantly replace dying batteries and eventually a cooked starter cause cranking on low batteries is hard on them and fully discharging such batteries shortens their lifespan. those kinectics type batteries will probably do the best in that regard, the isolator will protect your main battery from discharge but still allow the second battery to charge.

    By protecting the main battery, you also protect your starter as it will have the amps it needs without strain and no more having to jump start, which also doesn't help anything.
    Or just leave the car running all the time or get a generator.

    Where i work, we leave our trucks running all day, their diesels but we have batteries and stuff to charge too, but their company trucks.
     
  3. leper84

    leper84 Senior member

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    This is actually very believable and I actually had something similar happen to me recently.

    When I bought my current car is came with a redtop. Once it started getting colder around here it either ruptured a cell or the shrinkage made it apparent of a ruptured cell. Car had zero power, everything clean & tight. Shake the battery and the interior lights would come back on and give me enough juice for a slow crank. Got a new battery, tested the old one the following morning when it was cold, failed miserably. Tested again when it warmed up that afternoon, no charger, passed without an issue.

    I could see a small, small imperfection in a cell (or multiple small imperfections) covering up when the passing current warms up the battery. Considering how stunningly fast Optima's QC has gone to absolute shit since they've been bought out (my redtop lasted 1 1/2 years after the production date) I wouldn't put it past anything for it to have a weird issue like that.
     
  4. Zap

    Zap Elite Member

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    Could old gas possibly cause a similar problem of the engine cranking but not quite catching ignition for a few tries?
     
  5. LTC8K6

    LTC8K6 Lifer

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    Some cylinders are probably gradually beginning to fire inefficiently, speeding up the cranking, and then eventually it starts.
     
  6. imagoon

    imagoon Diamond Member

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    Have you also tried using an external charger to charge the battery? Your cars alternator is rarely rated to charge a fully discharged battery. It can also shutdown due to overheating and never really top off the battery.

    Deep cycles still can die when fully discharged. The main difference between a deep cycle and automotive is the lead plate size. The plates can flex as they discharge and if they flex to far the current and voltage of the cell goes out of wack. There are more smaller plates in a automotive battery letting it deliver large bursts of power (ie starter.) Deep cycles are larger plates -> less peak current but can handle being discharged more. However "0%" is basically death for both types.

    I also agree that it is possible the current draw is warming the battery and might give it a bit of extra boost.

    Try attaching a true battery charger and fully charging the battery. Make sure to get one for deep cycles and one that has a "slow to 100%" charge. Basically if the battery is still good a thorough charging and slowly taking it from ~85 -> 100% can clear the plates. A normal automotive charge may not charge that cell properly. Your car might not either.

     
    #31 imagoon, Feb 18, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2013
  7. Charles Kozierok

    Charles Kozierok Elite Member

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    Do you have a voltmeter? Can you check the voltage on the battery after it has sat unused (not charging or discharging) for say, 12 or 24 hours, and tell us what it is?
     
  8. phucheneh

    phucheneh Diamond Member

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    Meh, too much trying for his amount of replying. He still needs to, IMHO, get a voltmeter as just stated. Open circuit voltage is worth checking, but unless it's under 12v, it's not terribly conclusive. I've seen cars crank fine on high 11's. Granted, they wouldn't be cranking for long...

    Checking the voltage under load will tell the story.

    I'm vaguely familiar with 'deep cycle' batteries...rarely encountered, AFAIK RV's are their most common use. But the ones I have seem have always been the Optima yellow tops, and I was unaware that they could not sustain the cranking of a typical car engine. Seems like I've seen plenty of V8's with them (granted, they might've had an extra one tucked away...).

    I don't know how plate size translates with those batteries. The entire cell is spiral, which makes its construction more like that of an electrolytic cap, I believe. I would think that would translate to a bigger surface area...but the whole 'gel cell' thing just nixes any comparison for me.

    My advice: go to Advance, buy a 'silver' or whatever battery for like 60 bucks. Problem likely solved. If not, go from there.

    I say Advance simply because I like them the best for 'cheap' batteries. You don't pay any less at Autozone or even Walmart, I don't believe. But you sure get a shittier battery.

    A decent house brand parts store battery will probably outlast an Optima nine times out of ten.
     
  9. phucheneh

    phucheneh Diamond Member

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    With old gas, you're essentially cranking on a lean mixture. So yeah, it might take a slight bit longer and/or sputter and struggle a bit. But no symptoms like what the OP is describing.
     
  10. Apex

    Apex Diamond Member

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    I'm guessing it was pretty cold when you did this?

    From what I understand, deep cycle AGM batteries can act a bit more like LiFePO4 batteries than lead acid batteries.

    Cranking it a few times generates heat within the battery, lowering the internal resistance, allowing it to put out more juice.

    Here's a video demonstration of a Ballistic LiFePo4 battery doing this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBfvR1EJJBk&hd=1
     
  11. phucheneh

    phucheneh Diamond Member

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    Lithium...Iron...Phosphate?

    Wait, no...what the hell is 'Po'?

    This isn't chemistry class. :mad: But yeah, you and others seem to be confirming the suspicions of...me and others. He needs to ditch the Optima battery.

    edit: Oh shit, I was actually right on 'phosphate'...I remembered something from school. Mind blown. I just saw it in lowercase and was like 'they're making Polonium batteries?!'
     
  12. Apex

    Apex Diamond Member

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    Yeah, you got it right. Lithium Iron Phosphate. It doesn't have the energy density of Lithium Cobalt Oxide (LiCoO2) batteries, but also doesn't have the explode-y/catch fire-y properties either (ahem, Boeing Dreamliner).

    Here's the 16-cell Ballistic LiFePo4 battery I use in my car. It weighs in at 3 lbs and is rated at 28Ah and 500 CCA (that's my little tea cup next to it):

    [​IMG]
     
  13. nerp

    nerp Diamond Member

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    Leave it to fuzzy to do something totally weird. This time it's a car battery. The problems people create for themselves . . .
     
  14. fuzzybabybunny

    fuzzybabybunny Moderator<br>Digital & Video Cameras
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    Are Optima batteries supposed to suck or something?
     
  15. phucheneh

    phucheneh Diamond Member

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    They are not the same as a standard lead-acid battery. You paid extra to get a battery that will probably not live as long as a cheap one.

    Also, a public service announcement: If you refuse to check things with a voltmeter, there is no reason to post threads about your no-start. No one has psychic powers that will allow them to diagnose the problem through the internet. Your options are-

    A) Replace battery; cross fingers and hope you fixed the problem.
    B) Remove battery, take to parts store for charging and testing. Cross fingers and hope the employees there aren't retarded.
    C) Take it to a shop. Also, do something with your fingers.

    Fourth option is test it yourself. With a cheap-ass voltmeter and a helper (for turning the key as needed while you use the meter under the hood), you can diagnose every single possible starting and charging problem. Easily.
     
  16. Toastedlightly

    Toastedlightly Diamond Member

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    If you turn the key forward, wait 3 seconds, turn it back then forward, wait 3 seconds, then try to start it, does it start right away?

    If so, that is a fuel drain back issue.
     
  17. disappoint

    disappoint Lifer

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    Have you read the reviews on them all over the internet?
     
  18. Pacfanweb

    Pacfanweb Lifer

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    Not even that on some cars now, all it is is a sensor.

    Haven't read the whole thread, but the answer is, when you heat up the battery, it will increase the power of the battery. Putting a load on the battery heats it.

    So if your battery is just barely short of cranking the car, sometimes you can load it a couple of times, and the power increase will be enough to get over the hump, so to speak.
     
  19. imagoon

    imagoon Diamond Member

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    For the deep cycles they spiral a solid piece of lead for the plate. In the automotive start battery the "plate" is more of a lead mesh woven like cloth and then spiraled. The woven mesh has much higher surface area allowing for more peak voltage at the trade off that the mesh can decay faster esp when fully discharged.

    I also agree with you and recommend a $60 battery as a replacement.
     
  20. imagoon

    imagoon Diamond Member

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    Nope but user abuse kills them all the same as all other batteries. Running them down past 20% -> good chance the battery is now dead because the lead plate will corrode. Discharging them that low isn't a normal use case.

    I would call optima, they may replace it anyway if it is in warranty.
     
  21. phucheneh

    phucheneh Diamond Member

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    Damn, it's been a while since I've bought a battery. More like $100 for a generic parts store battery now. What made them go up? Metals have gotten more expensive...but I'm pretty sure lead hasn't gone up 50% or more, has it?

    If you buy from Advance, they seem to always have a 20% coupon code or something, though. If you can use it online, they'll take it in the store (according to the store I use, anyway). Not sure if there are similar discounts out there for others. Probably Autozone, but seriously...I know it's anecdotal, but those Duralast batteries fail more often than every single other brand I encounter combined.

    Perhaps it's simply because 'Autozone battery' tends to go along with 'crap vehicle,' so they see a lot more exposure to bad voltage regulators, failing alternators (simply low output, or a bad rectifier), bad cabling, improper mounting...

    Still, I just consider it piece of mind to avoid those 'red tops'.

    I will try and beat this into someone yet again, though: multimeter multimeter multimeter.

    http://www.sears.com/craftsman-digit...9&amp;blockType=G9

    http://www.autozone.com/autozone/ac...multimeter/_/N-26lr?itemIdentifier=64471_0_0_

    There are plenty of manual ranging meters available for about $20 that are plenty adequate for voltage checks.

    The ampere function is almost guaranteed to never be needed, and if you're not doing complex electrical diag, you won't use ohms, either. Voltage will be your relative indicator of resistance.
     
  22. randay

    randay Lifer

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    optima batteries require 14.7 volts to charge properly, your honda fit probably isnt charging your battery.
     
  23. Charles Kozierok

    Charles Kozierok Elite Member

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    Northern Arizona Wind & Sun has been a well-known alternative energy firm for ages. They have a very informative FAQ I first read in the late 90s before we got a system and went off-grid. Here's what they have to say about this exact issue:


    This actually surprised me. I thought they'd say it was not recommended.

    Anyway, as others have said, with no information, not even a steady-state voltage, nobody can really help you much.
     
  24. phucheneh

    phucheneh Diamond Member

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    So, even without his input :)P), working hypothesis:

    Optima battery worked for a while, but was probably not capable of providing the same peak cranking amps as his factory battery- granted, the factory battery should be capable of delivering far in excess of what is needed to start the car, given a good charge. But this was probably step in on the chain of 'fail.'

    Step two, inadequate charging voltage. Battery's state of charge is gradually reduced, and likely its actual capacity along with it.

    Step three, battery too weak to start car. If this took a long time (years), it can probably be attributed to both slow battery death and general (normal) degradation of cables and connections (i.e. already inadequate voltage became maybe just a critical tenth or two lower).

    Solution: REPLACE YOUR DAMNED BATTERY. THEY BOTH TEST AND REPLACE FOR FREE AT THE PARTS STORE. JBFAC*!



    (*jesus-butt-fucking-ass-christ, I made up a new internet acronym)
     
  25. HeXen

    HeXen Diamond Member

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    I agree, but if he's just gonna keep running his laptop off the battery and draining it dry, he ends up in the same position within months. For anything that requires one to use with the car not running, they need an isolator and and another battery for it to drain from, preferably one that can handle lots of discharges, it's not like their really expensive if it's an activity you need to do.
     
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