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Old 01-21-2009, 08:50 AM   #1
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Starting Battery Voltage

I know there have been a ton of posts on batteries, but I have to add one more as my problem seems to be different.
My starting batteries (I have two of 'em with the diesel) are only lasting six months. Yup, that's six as in 6.
The first two sets were Ford batteries and they ended up spewing acid all over. The next two sets have been Optimas and being sealed, no acid mess but they still go bad. I've had the rig in to Ford a couple of times and to a good auto electrical shop. No one can find a problem. Charging fine (not overcharging) and no loads when the key is off. Ford did just replace the alternator (which has the regulator attached) because they couldn't find anything else and I wanted something done.
All is working now with two months on my fourth set, but when I turn the key on to first click and activate the ScanGage it reads 12.4 volts (this is good). When I go to the next click, which turns on the glow plugs, the voltage drops to 10.3 volts (this is not good) although it does heat up the plugs and then the engine will crank (but on cranking the house battery is connected in to help). I know the glow plugs use a lot of current and that's the main reason that there are two starting batteries with a diesel, but I can't believe the drop to 10.3 is normal. Any of you guys out there willing to do the simple voltage check I mention above and let me know what you get???
If it hadn't been for my house battery, I'd still be walking from some of the places I was camped when the batteries gave up the ghost. Not a good feeling
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Old 01-21-2009, 08:57 AM   #2
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Re: Starting Battery Voltage

My SMB's at home, but I can check it tonight. I have a ScanGuage as well.


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Old 01-21-2009, 09:54 AM   #3
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Re: Starting Battery Voltage

I don't have a diesel but with our v10 it takes a lot to crank it over. The voltage starts at 12.8 or so, then drops down to at least 10 volts when cranking over , then back up to over 13+ at idle.

We also have a battery charger/maintainer on our starting battery since we don't drive the SMB daily. How often do you drive your rig?
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Old 01-21-2009, 01:39 PM   #4
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Re: Starting Battery Voltage

I have not watched the voltage as our diesel prepares to crank, but I guess I would not be surprised to see the voltage dip to ~10v under that load.

...the thing that would worry me is the spewing you saw in the non-sealed batts.

That would seem that it had to involve temperature increase, and a temp increase would come from overcharging.

If the non-sealed spewed, what is/was happening to the sealed batts?

Temp from overcharging is the enemy of all batteries.
Remember the videos of the laptop batteries cacthing fire?
Know why Toyota does not charge their hybrid batts beyond 80% SOC?
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Old 01-21-2009, 03:03 PM   #5
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Re: Starting Battery Voltage

I start about 12.6 and when cranking the dash reads 10.1, even with the new batteries. My readings tend to be a little low with this particular meter. That is with the separator manually off.

If you have to Powersure Separator the start wire is connected to manually force the Separator closed, therefore if your house batts are bad you're connecting the good starters to the house batteries, which could be causing gremlins.
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Old 01-21-2009, 03:05 PM   #6
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Re: Starting Battery Voltage

Scatter
What does the scan gauge read when you're at idle?

You're sure there is no load with the key off? No stereo amps GPS devices etc on? I had a under hood light kill my battery once. It was only on when sitting in my driveway because the driveway was at a steep angle. The shop that tested the vehicle did it on flat ground. And are you sure the separator is open while the van sits?

It sounds like something is causing the chassis batteries to drop below 12v on a continual basis which will kill them fast especially if the van sits for a few days w/o being driven and the house battery is doing the starting. Try pulling off the ground to the separator and then try to start the engine. You might try leaving it off for a while to see what happens.
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Old 01-21-2009, 03:31 PM   #7
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Re: Starting Battery Voltage

Thanks for all the replies guys.
I would appreciate your readings Herb.
While in Baja, the rig sits for several weeks at a time, but I have a trickle charger on the starter batteries.
According to my xantrex meter, my house battery is at 12.5 and I've never had any problems with it.
I have disconnected the seperator for a while and also while checking and trouble shooting. No change.
The only load on the starter batteries while sitting is what is Ford installed. Radio clock, station preset memory, etc.
I agree that the acid spewing is from high temps/over charging. All testing by myself, Ford and the electrical shop show the charging voltage to be within specs. What was weird was that while I was driving (charging) the ScanGage would jump around constantly and read from 12.3 to 14.6 volts. Other meters did not show that much of a variation. Since the new alternator, the reading still varies, but more like from 13.5 to 14.3 volts. Maybe that was the cure and will be the end of my problems. Hope, hope, hope....
The failed sealed batteries looked fine, just wouldn't hold a charge and crashed right away under a load test. By the way, went to Summit Racing in Sparks (where I bought 'em) and they handed me two new batteries. Love their and Optima's warrantee, but can't expect them to do that again in the near future.
My dropping to 10.3 while waiting for the glow plug lite to go out may be normal. Twas why I was asking for what others were getting. I'm not having any problems right now, but thot I'd just see what was the norm out there.
Appreciate all the input guys, all good suggestions.
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Old 01-26-2009, 09:56 AM   #8
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Re: Starting Battery Voltage

Sorry for the delay, I finally remembered to check my voltages this morning. I got about a 1.0V drop when the key was turned to the Accessory position (12.1V down to 11.1V). With the engine running, I had significant voltage changes while driving in this morning.


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Old 01-26-2009, 05:36 PM   #9
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Re: Starting Battery Voltage

Thanks Herb. Sounds pretty much like my fluctuation. I'll need to take another reading when switching to Acc. Looks like I'm about 3/4 volt lower then you are.
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Old 01-28-2009, 08:40 PM   #10
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Re: Starting Battery Voltage

Mine stays just above 12v when the key is turned on to heat the glow plugs but drops to 10.2 at start. Scan gauge is all over the place while driving 12.7 to 13.6 most of the time and lower or higher from time to time.
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