Jump to content

Batteries going flat - a different story to usual


JonL
 Share

Featured Posts

A different battery tale.

 

I got stuck stationary on the M25 on Boxing Day for one and a half hours – accident that closed junction 28 about 1.30pm, that’s not the story.

 

I actually didn’t mind too much as I was in no particular rush and after the crush of Christmas Day a while on my own listening to the radio was fairly pleasant.

 

Anyway after not much more than one and half hours we got going again. I was then completely amazed at the number of cars that had flat batteries – it was unbelievable, I reckon in the space of two miles there must have been 50 to 60 cars broken down, initially it was like a 20 mph slalom getting through but up the front there were 4 or 5 traffic officers pushing cars off onto the hard shoulder.

 

Now I know that car batteries are “starter” batteries and behave very differently to “leisure” batteries but surely they should have coped better. It was daylight so no one had their lights on, I know radios don’t draw to much juice, which is why I listened to mine and not the CD player.

 

I suppose most drivers have no concept of power consumption and think that everything works by magic and were probably sitting there CD’s playing, Sat Nav’s powered up, phone’s plugged in for charging, but still I am still surprised at the number, some on very new cars.

 

Are these just poorly maintained batteries or can this amount of kit kill a starter battery so quickly ?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm surprised as well, even if I had a radio and sat nav on I would still expect the car to start after 2 hours of use.

 

I have classic cars and abuse batteries, even after leaving the car for a month or more the battery still has enough cracking power for a few minutes.

 

If the ones that had flat batteries after a couple of hours I would expect difficulties starting on cold mornings...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If they were newer cars maybe they had their air conditioning on as well ... that would probably run a battery down fairly quickly

 

Air conditioning requires the engine to be running for the compressor. Heating would have got cold very quickly without engine running.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some friends have a new VW Golf. We went to Chatsworth Fair earlier in the year, and one of my friends, due to bad back, went back to the car early. Was there for an hour - hour and a half, listening to radio. Had the ignition on full rather than radio only setting and the battery was flat when we got back to the car.

 

It surprised me too, I really didn't think there was enough being drawn to flatten the battery so completely, and the lights wern't on. The fan may have been, and of course the radio. Maybe the interior light. Even so, it seems odd that it should run the battery down so much. I did wonder if this showed up a dodgy battery, even though it was nearly new and fully charged when we arrived, but it seems this was not an isolated incident.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

if there had children in using, PSP’s or DSi , plugged into 12 v lighter holder you would be surprise how quick a car battery goes flat.

 

Last summer my son sat in our car while camping with his DSi plugged in playing it while it was re-charging from the car battery, he reckoned he was in less than an hour, before I saw him, and then tryed to start the car.

 

He had totally flatling the battery good job I’m in AA

Edited by davidc
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If they were newer cars maybe they had their air conditioning on as well ... that would probably run a battery down fairly quickly

 

Right. Some 'Climate control' type air con systems are able to do electrical pre-heat for start up de-mist. That with the in car gizmos & what seems to be a tendency to fit smaller batterys (weight saving?) won't help ether.

 

taslim..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some friends have a new VW Golf. We went to Chatsworth Fair earlier in the year, and one of my friends, due to bad back, went back to the car early. Was there for an hour - hour and a half, listening to radio. Had the ignition on full rather than radio only setting and the battery was flat when we got back to the car.

 

It surprised me too, I really didn't think there was enough being drawn to flatten the battery so completely, and the lights wern't on. The fan may have been, and of course the radio. Maybe the interior light. Even so, it seems odd that it should run the battery down so much. I did wonder if this showed up a dodgy battery, even though it was nearly new and fully charged when we arrived, but it seems this was not an isolated incident.

Most car radios now are fairly high-powered of around 50W output, so thats 4 amps, the blower fan is another 4 or more, interior light about 1/2 amp. If you had the ignition on full then all sorts of things would be powered up.

 

Modern cars are very power hungry. Most garages nowadays have special chargers to maintain battery whilst they are being serviced.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Most car radios now are fairly high-powered of around 50W output, so thats 4 amps, the blower fan is another 4 or more, interior light about 1/2 amp. If you had the ignition on full then all sorts of things would be powered up.

 

Car radios may be 50w (but more likely not, as it's rated in PMPO a lot of the times!), plus you wouldn't have it on full all the time, that and older car radios would have used more (Mine has valves! :) ). Blower fan, can't see it been used, after a few minutes it would have gone cold without the engine running.

 

Even if you had a PSP, smartphones and the likes plugged in (unless a few), I would still expect a modern car to start unless the battery was already ucked.

  • Greenie 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The "Standard" battery fitted to many cars these days is barely large enough to cope with the demands of modern electronics. A couple of years ago the original battery in my Passat died (not bad after 12 years!) and it was replaced with what was described as the "Standard battery for that car". Although I thought it was a bit small, I was shown the battery charts and assured it would be big enough.

 

Famous last words. I left the car on our mooring for ten days with the intruder alarm activated, and returned to a flat battery. Fortunatly another moorer was able to jump start me and we got home OK, but even after a three hour run the battery was still showing signs of going flat after several days unused with the intruder alarm switchwed on, so it went back to the garage who fitted another identical battery, which made no improvement. I eventually had them fit a much larger battery and since then have had no problems.

 

I suspect that many manufacturers are fitting the smallest battery they can get away with, in the hope that people will not run components for any significant time without the engine running, amd people are getting caught out.

Edited by David Schweizer
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On a lot of cars the 12v socket (aka "cigarette lighter") only works if the ignition is switched on, so a lot of people will sit there with the ignition switched on so that they can use their gadgets.

 

I left the car on our mooring for ten days with the intruder alarm activated, and returned to a flat battery.

 

I too have that problem. The battery will only last for a couple of weeks, with everything switched off except the alarm (which cannot be switched off). So if I want to avoid having a flat battery when I get back from cruising, I have to disconnect the battery - which rather defeats the purpose of the car having an alarm system so I wonder what the insurance position would be if it were stolen?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I too have that problem. The battery will only last for a couple of weeks, with everything switched off except the alarm (which cannot be switched off). So if I want to avoid having a flat battery when I get back from cruising, I have to disconnect the battery - which rather defeats the purpose of the car having an alarm system so I wonder what the insurance position would be if it were stolen?

I have a problem with my car, even if left for just the weekend, with everything switched off, the battery goes flat? I now have to disconnect the battery virtually every time I park the car.. The battery doesn't go flat when disconnected so something on the car must be using power or it's seeping away somewhere...

Casp'

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a problem with my car, even if left for just the weekend, with everything switched off, the battery goes flat? I now have to disconnect the battery virtually every time I park the car.. The battery doesn't go flat when disconnected so something on the car must be using power or it's seeping away somewhere...

Casp'

 

Certainly sounds that way - or you may have something like a dodgy boot/tailgate light switch and it's not putting the light out when you shut it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Presumably these vehicles had been starting up ok previous to this traffic hold up.

The weather was mild so they shouldn't have needed heating which would have required the engine running anyway.Radios shouldn't have flattened the batteries as the they should also work on the ignition keys auxhillary position and not engine on position, although CD players and the the like might if the the batteries were on the way out anyway. I doubt whether the drivers would arm the alarms whilst sitting in the car,so it really has to be down to playing with gadgets and gizmos.

Why don't folk and their families just sit quietly and look at the scenery or play guessing games like animal (VEGETABLE) or mineral or I-Spy.I-SPY booklets i think can still be bought.

There are all manner of games to play requiring nothing,not even pencils and paper.And in doing so the time passes much faster too.

When we were kids we always kept I-SPY books,pencils and paper ect in dads old car an 1939 Standard flying 10,although it hardly flew though,about 481/2 mph was about its lot,no heater nothing,so unless lights were left on,wipers or you blew the horn continually there wasn't much else to flatten the battery (6volt)which never occurred.

And of course it had an starting handle if it had. :mellow:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On a lot of cars the 12v socket (aka "cigarette lighter") only works if the ignition is switched on, so a lot of people will sit there with the ignition switched on so that they can use their gadgets.

 

 

 

I too have that problem. The battery will only last for a couple of weeks, with everything switched off except the alarm (which cannot be switched off). So if I want to avoid having a flat battery when I get back from cruising, I have to disconnect the battery - which rather defeats the purpose of the car having an alarm system so I wonder what the insurance position would be if it were stolen?

 

Modern cars have Keep Alive Memory (KAM) systems running maintaining ecu memories and radio reception for remote door unlocking with blipper key fobs etc. This total load can, running 24x7, cause significant discharge over what would appear to be quite a short time. My Freelander has a system that puts the car to sleep after about 14 days which means that when I get back to it, sometimes after 5 months, the battery is still fully charged but I do then have to get into the car by using the emergency key door access. Even the dealer didn't know why this happened to me until they contacted Land Rover because it isn't something that happens to most users who are using the car daily. The alarm kicks off immediately though as soon as I use the emergency key to open the door so that part of the system wakes up instantly.

Roger

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Presumably these vehicles had been starting up ok previous to this traffic hold up.

The weather was mild so they shouldn't have needed heating which would have required the engine running anyway.Radios shouldn't have flattened the batteries as the they should also work on the ignition keys auxhillary position and not engine on position, although CD players and the the like might if the the batteries were on the way out anyway. I doubt whether the drivers would arm the alarms whilst sitting in the car,so it really has to be down to playing with gadgets and gizmos.

Why don't folk and their families just sit quietly and look at the scenery or play guessing games like animal (VEGETABLE) or mineral or I-Spy.I-SPY booklets i think can still be bought.

There are all manner of games to play requiring nothing,not even pencils and paper.And in doing so the time passes much faster too.

When we were kids we always kept I-SPY books,pencils and paper ect in dads old car an 1939 Standard flying 10,although it hardly flew though,about 481/2 mph was about its lot,no heater nothing,so unless lights were left on,wipers or you blew the horn continually there wasn't much else to flatten the battery (6volt)which never occurred.

And of course it had an starting handle if it had. :mellow:

 

All the gadgets have there own batteries, can't believe many would have been plugged in to the car, apart from a smartphone and/or satnav which tend to have a docking station.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All the gadgets have there own batteries, can't believe many would have been plugged in to the car, apart from a smartphone and/or satnav which tend to have a docking station.

I mean't the in built car electrics too.They were probably using the electric windows (quite high current) every five minutes or so trying to peer ahead without getting out to look. ect. And 2 hours of all this behavior and a weak battery would be enough to flatten the batteries. ''Well it did didn't it''.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All the gadgets have there own batteries, can't believe many would have been plugged in to the car, apart from a smartphone and/or satnav which tend to have a docking station.

 

Most have rechargeable batteries which don't necessarily last for very long even if they were fully charged before the car stopped. And some perform differently, for example I have a wireless iPod player which works OK from the iPod's batteries but flattens them fairly quickly, and which works much better when plugged in because it then transmits to the radio at a higher power level.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd be really surprised if all these breakdowns were flat batteries, i'd bet a good few were overheating - sitting in traffic with engine running or / and running out of fuel - (who would want to pay motorway prices for fuel).

 

I've no science to prove this but travelling the motorways a fair bit i reckon I see far fewer cars broken down on the hard shoulder and tempting fate can't remember the last time i had a breakdown that wasn't a puncture (I drive a variety of cars of different ages/makes not all new - oldest being a 1989 landrover)

 

I don't know if batteries are getting smaller capacity wise but they are getting smaller physically as newer technology (e.g calcium ) gets into cars and of course the modern electrical systems with computers for turning on a light must sit there gobbling electricity...

 

must be an car equivalent of CWDF that someone is on....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is it that people are just "forgetting" to turn their lights off? I've been stuck in too many nocturnal motorway accident tailbacks and in nearly everyone I've had someone in my sight who has their headlights on, gradually dimming to little glow-worms, and then failing to start when the traffic moves off... Its not so bad in daylight, but with the increasing use of daylight running lights its bound to become more of an issue.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On a reasonable quality modern car the power management systems should stop it from happening however it's not unknown. At this time of year many batteries are in a poor state of charge due to lots of stop start driving with extra loads on. Typically a heated rear window is 25 - 30A, front screen 40A, Seat heaters 10 - 15A each, Audio system - 2A up to 60A (high spec luxury), lights 15A, heater fans 10A etc. Add to this the power used by instrument packs, engine and gearbox controllers, body electronics, Hevac systems etc it soon becomes a problem. Often these systems don't cover cigar lighters so there's another unknown load. If these are left on for large periods of time with no engine running then the battery will go flat unless the car has a power management system. These are becoming more common, but vary in quality and complexity. You do very much get what you pay for.

 

On a modern car overheating shouldn't be an issue. Electric cooling fans and modern cooling system design (e.g. electric water pumps) "should" stop this from happening.

Edited by Chalky
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am surprised that car batteries flatten in this manner. When we first got married we could only afford an old Russian L*da and an old beat up touring c*r*van. The lights and telly used to run off the car battery no probs., often for hours on end. I only had to take the starting handle to it on one occasion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would tend to agree with Jonathan, that only a percentage were battery related, a recent report hi-lighted the large increase in vehicles running out of fuel on motorways because people will not pay the prices charged.

But as to batteryusagee, many modern cars are now fitted with auto stop/start which means if the traffic jam had been inching forward then possibly some cars were making lots of starts with little re-charge time in between.

 

Also I recently bought a new vehicle which started fine until the first cold spell, then it would not turn over. The battery was tested and found to have 3 bad cells, so only giving 6 volts of cranking effort! so being a new vehicle is guaranteetee of battery quality, many new vehicles sit for months on dock-sides etc between date of manufacture and first registration.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not quite the same thing, but I experienced a "sudden death" with the battery on my previous vehicle; fine in the morning,completely dead at knocking off time. I renewed it and it was fine afterwards. I mentioned this to the bloke from whom I bought the battery and he claimed it is common with modern batteries. In days of old I found that they got more and more lazy, until you gave in and bought a "new" (often from the breakers yard) battery.

Edited by Guest
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is it that people are just "forgetting" to turn their lights off? I've been stuck in too many nocturnal motorway accident tailbacks and in nearly everyone I've had someone in my sight who has their headlights on, gradually dimming to little glow-worms, and then failing to start when the traffic moves off... Its not so bad in daylight, but with the increasing use of daylight running lights its bound to become more of an issue.

The headlight thing is bonkers.People start putting them on when a cloud passes over the sun.

Here's an example of ridiculousness.Back in the 1970's.During the power cut and oil shortage period,we were issued with petrol coupons but didn't have to use them.Also a lower maximum speed limit was imposed to save oil reserves.

However exactly at the same time a new recommendation or law i can't remember which about driving at night with dipped headlights on at all times.Now how crazy was that at exactly the same time as a general fuel shortage.

The difference nationwide in fuel used between vehicles having or not having headlights on is absolutely massive.

The powers that be at the ministry of power obviously hadn't even consulted any electrical experts or even a lowly motor mechanic who would have quickly informed them of the huge difference ie--alternator load=extra engine power=more fuel used.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.