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Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/05/2018 10:59 PM

Will heat cause a battery to appear to be dead, but it will recover when it cools? At an event today, we had to get a jump to get started; at home, after it cooled, the engine started normally. Will a lead acid battery do this? I described it as having a heat stroke--it was above 90 degrees and in the direct sun inside a battery box most of the time. Thanks.

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#1

Re: Lead acid automotive batteries

08/06/2018 6:32 AM

Heat will certainly shorten the life of a battery, but I cannot imagine that it would appear dead and then recover at a lower temperature. I lived for many years in a region where summer temperatures regularly reached 48o C (118o F) and a good life for the battery was around 4 years. The chemical reaction in the battery is not as vigorous at low temperature and this would lower the efficiency of the battery and I would expect the opposite to be true at higher temperatures. This link is quite interesting.

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#6
In reply to #1

Re: Lead acid automotive batteries

08/06/2018 5:16 PM

Since I live in an area that gets cold (NE Ohio) I'm aware that batteries have reduced capability at low temps. In my hobby batteries, intermittent use and none in the winter, I can generally double the warranty period by taking care of them--only distilled water, don't let them sit around discharged, etc. I don't like no maintenance batteries, because you can't add water as needed.

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#2

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/06/2018 8:04 AM

Probably just a loose electrical connection...or starter switch getting ready to fail...or other relay or sensor getting ready to fail...I think my ignition switch went bad some time ago beginning with intermittent failures....In any case, it could be a lot of things....but probably not the battery itself....

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#7
In reply to #2

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/06/2018 5:22 PM

Not a loose connection--we checked at least the battery terminals, and the others hadn't been touched--it started fine earlier in the day. Imminent failure? Don't know yet; as I remember from 40 years ago the starter relay is a copper plate that contacts 2 terminals. This deserves checking.

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#16
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Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/06/2018 11:53 PM

A Lead acid battery can appear dead and then come back after a long charge, perhaps because a dendrite or more likely the sludge at the bottom is shorting out one cell, then moves. The battery may be ok for a little longer but its days are probably numbered.

on a related matter, I replaced my N70 battery last year after 10-15 years of service, it was still starting my diesel, but only just! when it was tested the original ~695CCA was down to ~70CCA.

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#26
In reply to #16

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/08/2018 3:03 PM

Thanks. A possibility since it is an old battery.

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#3

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/06/2018 8:53 AM

Batteries can recover. If you run it down trying to start the car, till it will barely crank the engine, leave it for 20 minutes or so and it will usually have perked up.

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#8
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Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/06/2018 5:26 PM

This wasn't the case. We had been running for a couple of hours and shut down to pick up our stuff; the restart is what failed until a jumper battery was found and used. But it did start fine at home later--probably it was cooler by then.

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#4

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/06/2018 9:58 AM

Maybe you left the key on and drained the battery....then after running for a while it recharged the battery....maybe the kids were using the wifi hotspot and playing video games while being plugged in to your aux power outlets....Maybe somebody used your battery for a jump when their car wouldn't start...maybe your alternator is failing....maybe your battery is failing to hold a charge...

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#9
In reply to #4

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/06/2018 5:33 PM

The battery was charging at circa 10 amps on the way home. No hot spots, auxiliary power outlets, or wifi--they hadn't even been thought of back then, because it's 93 years old. But it pumped water for about 5 hours with less fuss than some in-service fire engines with us.

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#13
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Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/06/2018 6:57 PM

It's a 1925 firetruck? You might have mentioned that....haha

...then I have no clue....although I'm thinking maybe a dead spot on the starter motor, seen that in old cars before...just used to smack it with a hammer...

Take it apart and clean the contact surfaces.....check brushes

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#25
In reply to #13

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/08/2018 3:00 PM

Starter was professionally rebuilt several years ago, and did much better afterward. Still getting that good performance. No other evidence (so far!) of a dead spot.

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#5

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/06/2018 10:13 AM

How far did you drive it? The car's alternator probably charged it on the way home. My experience is that a few minutes of charging will put enough juice back in the battery to restart the car.

Lead acid batteries don't behave like the "flashlight" batteries most people are familiar with. They don't get weaker as they discharge. Lead-acid batteries produce almost full voltage until they are dead.

https://www.powerstream.com/1922/battery_1922_WITTE/batteryfiles/chapter05.htm

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#10

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/06/2018 6:23 PM

An unusual set of conditions would be needed that would cause the temerature discussed to result in diminish battery capacity that recovered when cooled.

Far more likely is that there was some drain on the battery while it was parked before needing the jump, that was not present later when it was parked cooling down, after the alternator had recharged the battery.

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#20
In reply to #10

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/07/2018 3:29 PM

If it's 93 years old it won't have an alternator, unless it's been converted. And an alternator would give more than 10 amps (if the battery is low).

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#30
In reply to #20

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/08/2018 3:33 PM

Correct. Actually this truck was delivered WITHOUT a charging system. An alternator was added later, but I don't know when. It has a selenium rectifier instead of diodes--which messed with a rebuilder's mind!

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#11

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/06/2018 6:42 PM

I just left my pickup parked in 115°F condition for 10 days. It started just fine when I returned.

Some in inadvertent power drain was the problem, not the heat.

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#12

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/06/2018 6:51 PM

I had a weird but similar problem once and it turned out to be the main cable to the battery. Somehow the cable had severe corrosion somewhere mid cable under the jacket. Temperature, slight cable movement or just having Elvis in the building would cause the electrical system to seem fine or totally fail. I didn't believe my mechanic when he explained the problem to me. After years of trouble free operation I have concluded that he was 100% right.

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#14

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/06/2018 11:38 PM

Once in a great while, one of the internal battery connections between cells can crack. The higher path resistance may still allow it to draw charging current, but it can't deliver starting current. Had this happen on my wife's car about 30 years ago...

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#15
In reply to #14

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/06/2018 11:53 PM

And did it then heal itself, as happened here?

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#17

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/07/2018 3:16 AM

You don't mention whether the motor was attempting to turn over although slowly - which would indicate a flat battery, or if there was no response at all when attempting to start, ie, no clicking from the solenoid etc - which would indicate a poor connection or faulty switch. You should still hear the start solenoid operating even if the main terminals are faulty.

Heat actually speeds up the chemical reactions in the battery and makes them wore responsive, so you can likely discount that as being the cause of your problem, although the heat may have affected other parts of the electrical circuit that then caused the failure.

You state that it worked with a jumper battery, the jumper leads would probably have been attached to the battery lead ends rather than the actual battery terminals, this would have bypassed the terminal post/battery lead connection, so maybe a poor connection at one or both of the battery posts is the problem.

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#27
In reply to #17

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/08/2018 3:15 PM

This is not the standard solenoid. I did hear a noise, but it wasn't a click as I have heard on modern vehicles. The engine did not turn at all. Tried starting with the hand crank (what's that you say!); but that didn't do the trick which points a bit to the ballast resistor which is a separate unit on the dashboard.

Jumper cables were battery to battery (not advised!!), and bypassed the post to marine connector interface. Thus another thing to check. Thanks. (I use marine connections so I can disconnect between uses with a wing nut. This interface had been wire brushed.)

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#18

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/07/2018 2:26 PM

I'm going to take a guess that when the ignition was switched off an anomaly in the switch kept a circuit or more connected, partially draining the battery. Under the hood, where I'm assuming this battery was located, would get much hotter from the heat of the engine once it was turned off and no cool air was flowing through the engine compartment. If the vehicle were parked in the direct sun this could make said area even hotter. That said, if the vehicle were only parked for even a few hours it should still have the power to start the engine, which would take less power to start than a cold engine would.

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#28
In reply to #18

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/08/2018 3:26 PM

An anomaly in the ignition would not affect the cranking in this case, because I can crank with both ignitions off. Both ignition switches, buttons in this case, were moved several times during starting attempts. One ignition system is a magneto (not impulse) which doesn't do well at cranking speeds. Battery is in a box on the running board (another obsolete item, see my avatar.), but on this day it was plenty hot in there. My time span was maybe 15 minutes.

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#32
In reply to #28

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/09/2018 7:20 AM

When I said ignition it was in terms of turning the key, if it had one, to the off position and removing. I've seen cases where worn ignition switches were unreliable in disconnecting all the circuits, especially in situations where the key could be removed without turning it to the off position.

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#33
In reply to #32

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/09/2018 11:24 AM

Interesting FYI on the ignition switch. It is a Delco. The key has a small gear on the end that moves a rack inside the switch back and forth to make and break the contacts. I have never used it except for testing. To turn the ignition on you pull 2 knobs, one for magneto and one for battery. The starter is separate and looks like a doorbell button.

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#34
In reply to #18

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/14/2018 9:13 AM

Not necessarily. I had a car (I think a 1965 Chevy in about 1980) which was old and worn out. Each day I would leave work, drive about 10 miles (summer time, well heated up), park for about 10 minutes, try to start and it would barely turn over. I would come back an hour later, it would start right up. Something in I.C.E. (or starter) would get tight when hot but okay when cold.

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#19

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/07/2018 3:05 PM

Sounds like a weak and tired old battery to me. The mentioned engine start after the drive home - was this soon after shutting the engine off? I've had batteries that were near to dead that would hold the charge from the alternator for a short time after the engine was shut off, but slowly lose it again. Old batteries develop internal shorts in them that drain the charge down. More than an hour or so and the battery was again too weak to start the engine.

If not, then the other posts/replies mentioning bad spots on the starter rotor, poor connections, and so on will be your solution.

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#29
In reply to #19

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/08/2018 3:30 PM

Battery not holding a charge? A possibility, meaning I need to connect it and try again several days after the problem.

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#21

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/07/2018 4:30 PM

Over the years, I've had two starters that would not start a hot engine when the starter was hot from its close proximity to a running engine. In both cases, when the engine and the starter cooled off, the engine would start normally. But attempts to get the starter to turn over when hot would fail. The solenoid would engage but the starter would not turn over. Both times, a re-built start fixed the problem.

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#22
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Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/07/2018 4:34 PM

Good point - I missed that. I've seen that issue as well.

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#23
In reply to #21

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/07/2018 4:56 PM

GM has a (hot start) starter Bendix spring option for this, if that is the problem.

I put one on my '72 Vette and it solved my problems in the desert heat.

Or, just put a Ford solenoid on it.


It fits GM systems from 1955-1994
and it's helpful with "Mini-Starters" too.

(1) Nothing happens when the key is turned to "START"–although the headlights will burn brightly, and the rest of the electrical system is fine. The problem most often occurs in hot weather, and with the engine warmed up, after about a ten-minute stop. (Heat increases resistance at wiring and electrical parts.)

If you can hear a "click" when you turn the key to start, this may not help.

Also GM solenoids have a copper "plunger contact disc" inside that can be reversed to make better contact.

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#31
In reply to #21

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/08/2018 3:35 PM

We had several hot starts before this incident.

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#35
In reply to #21

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/14/2018 9:19 AM

Sounds like my post#34. I fixed it by replacing the car. It was due.

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#24

Re: Lead Acid Automotive Batteries

08/08/2018 2:57 PM

Without reading the replies beyond #10, here is some additional info. (I was out of the loop yesterday due to 15 hours being a pollworker at a special election here.)

The battery is 650 cold cranking amps with a 5 year warranty. It's now 11 years old, so approaching my usual doubling of the warranty time. A 100 amp load tester showed it was weak (probably OK for 11 years old,) but it has been cranking the engine OK--including after the incident when we had returned home. After charging several hours, there was little change. Electrolyte level was OK--no exposed plates. I haven't checked the starter relay yet, because it is much harder to get to and will have to be removed and taken apart. The engine was running until about 15 minutes before it refused to crank; that is, no parking time. When we shut down for lunch, it did fine on the restart.

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