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Car battery ID

Passion, instruction, buying, care, maintenance and more, any form of vehicle discussion is welcome here
gnawsome
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Car battery ID

#244248

Postby gnawsome » August 14th, 2019, 1:53 pm

I'll ask the questions first and add some explanation after.

How to tell whether a battery is Calcium - Silver Calcium - Lead acid ( other than it be written on the casing.

How to tell the date (whatever that date may mean as in made /initial charge/delivered from manufacturer).

Backstory;
I have owned a 57 1.6TDci Focus for five and a half years
Always a poor starter (it does not get used frequently. May stand for a week or more)
Had a 'full service' and fitted new glow plugs
Had a new battery Jan '17. Cheap but nominally of more than adequate capacity.
Multimeter displays 14.1v when running
12.2/12.3 when resting
I have three batteries available -- all will accept and hold charge on the bench for weeks on end of 12.3/12.5v.
But will drop to 12.1/12.3v when installed
I have installed solar charger to counter voltage drop
Checked for 'parasitic drain'
Three garages and a knowledgeable amateur have all found no cause. The KA suggested a faulty diode as being common on Fords with Smart Charge fitted.

Tempted to buy a used replacement but want to identify before I buy or else it will be just another battery on the bench.
I was told that Calcium batteries were non-maintenance and therefore had no removable cell plugs yet when I look at a FORD Silver Calcium battery it HAS got cell plugs

No one seems to know how to tell the age of a battery and yet that info is available – of necessity – on every battery, stamped into the case in a coded format. Logically every auto electrician (at least) should be able to identify a battery history so why the big secret
Can someone please give me guidance

bungeejumper
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Re: Car battery ID

#244323

Postby bungeejumper » August 14th, 2019, 5:58 pm

So many questions, so many possible issues. I can understand that the OP is peeved, but I'm not sure where he can take it from there?

First up, five years is a fair innings for a factory-fitted battery, although you may get more if you're lucky. (On a diesel, probably not.)

Second up, if there's a leak to earth then it doesn't really help to get annoyed with the battery! Maybe direct your wrath at somebody else? ;)

Battery date codes and basic types are easily decoded - the best resource I've found is http://knowhow.napaonline.com/batteries ... ery-guide/. But AFAIK, you won't find any embedded info as to whether your battery is a cadmium, "silver", "bronze" or "gold" etc, because most of these are just marketing terms.

If in doubt, consult reputable retailers. Tayna are excellent, as many of us here can attest. :)

Good luck

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Re: Car battery ID

#244503

Postby DrFfybes » August 15th, 2019, 12:21 pm

What you have not said is whether the car actually starts or not, just that it is slow starting. If it has always done that then probably it is normal. Sometimes letting the glowplugs warm up twice makes it easier (a neighbour bought a diesel van and every morning would jump in and immediately turn the key to "start" meaning it churned away for ages whilst the plugs heated up. He was quite surprised when I showed him the glowplug light.) Whilst modern cars should have relays to disconnect ancillaries during cranking, it is worth making sure aircon is off and heated windows, lights, etc are switched on after starting.

As BJ says, a lot of terms are marketing - Heavy duty, Gold, etc. What matters is the Ah capacity and cold cranking amps (CCA). Silver usually refers to a higher end battery with a Silver matrix to prolong life. The only real way to tell is look at the label and/or look the model up on the internet.

There is no big secret about how old a battery is - as you say it is stamped into the case. However each manufacturer will differ and use a different code in a different place. If you know the brand, their Website, Google, or Youtube should show you how to work it out.

Standing for a week or so should be OK - you say there is no parasitic drain so does the battery voltage drop at all after a week, and if so how far?

12.3V resting is slightly low, I'd expect 12.8V disconnected and 12.5 on the vehicle. However as I've drained my Bosch battery to 5V on several occasions (or more accurately the dealer has by locking the car on the remote and allowing the failing alarm to flatten it over the weekend [1]) then 12.3V is about what my battery sits at and will happily start a 4.2L V8. This is a Bosch S5 Silver battery. What matters is how low it drops when you press the starter - this will show if the battery is good or not. Kwikfit will do a pretty comprehensive test of drain, charging, and battery capacity.

Daft question but is your solar charger connected to the battery or the power socket (ciggy lighter?). Very often the ancillary power sockets are disconnected when the ignition is off, so they do nothing. Sometimes one will be permanent live and another switched.

Paul

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Re: Car battery ID

#244512

Postby bungeejumper » August 15th, 2019, 12:42 pm

DrFfybes wrote:What you have not said is whether the car actually starts or not, just that it is slow starting. If it has always done that then probably it is normal. Sometimes letting the glowplugs warm up twice makes it easier (a neighbour bought a diesel van and every morning would jump in and immediately turn the key to "start" meaning it churned away for ages whilst the plugs heated up.

I had an 02 reg TDCI Focus (1.8), and although it had a lot of problems, poor starting wasn't one of them. But in winter the glowplugs would do their job better if you gave them two bursts before you turned the starter. It became a habit eventually.

BJ

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Re: Car battery ID

#244523

Postby jfgw » August 15th, 2019, 1:28 pm

I had a K-reg Diesel Astra once which didn't start as easily as it should have done. When I replaced the battery with a calcium one of the heavier duty recommendation, the car started much more easily. I don't remember what the difference in CCA was, maybe 20 to 30% of the old one, but the starter motor no longer sounded like it was struggling. The previous two batteries lasted about a year each (the second was a replacement under guarantee), although the new one was double the price.

Julian F. G. W.

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Re: Car battery ID

#244532

Postby gnawsome » August 15th, 2019, 2:20 pm

bungeejumper wrote:So many questions, so many possible issues. I can understand that the OP is peeved, but I'm not sure where he can take it from there?

First up, five years is a fair innings for a factory-fitted battery, although you may get more if you're lucky. (On a diesel, probably not.)

Second up, if there's a leak to earth then it doesn't really help to get annoyed with the battery! Maybe direct your wrath at somebody else? ;)

Battery date codes and basic types are easily decoded - the best resource I've found is http://knowhow.napaonline.com/batteries ... ery-guide/. But AFAIK, you won't find any embedded info as to whether your battery is a cadmium, "silver", "bronze" or "gold" etc, because most of these are just marketing terms.

If in doubt, consult reputable retailers. Tayna are excellent, as many of us here can attest. :)

Good luck


Hi, bungeejumper
The luck's not holding, just spent a while trying to answer yours but clicked submit and lost it.
So just a bit more peevish.
I agree 5 years is a fair life for a battery but I've had 8+ years on a 405D (from new)
and about the same on a 406D bought at 2years old.
I've paid professionals to locate the problem -- none were able to do that. (wrath targets)
They said 'no issue with parasitic drain'
I looked up the site you mention but it seemed USA/company specific and although I could see an example I couldn't work out a method to define any date. Maybe I just failed to see it...
Ford insist that a calcium battery is fitted where there is a a smart charge alternator
This is frequently discussed on Ford Owners forum.
I have a sneaking suspicion that the fault lies other than the battery - even something as obscure as debris from the clutch fouling the starter ring but more likely a failing diode. So I am inclined to buy a used battery of correct type - preferably over-spec - to test out the battery theory and to do that I would like to know that it is new enough, and that it meets Ford requirements in being Calcium.
There may be more...

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Re: Car battery ID

#244541

Postby gnawsome » August 15th, 2019, 3:12 pm

DrFfybes wrote:What you have not said is whether the car actually starts or not, just that it is slow starting. If it has always done that then probably it is normal. Sometimes letting the glowplugs warm up twice makes it easier (a neighbour bought a diesel van and every morning would jump in and immediately turn the key to "start" meaning it churned away for ages whilst the plugs heated up. He was quite surprised when I showed him the glowplug light.) Whilst modern cars should have relays to disconnect ancillaries during cranking, it is worth making sure aircon is off and heated windows, lights, etc are switched on after starting.

As BJ says, a lot of terms are marketing - Heavy duty, Gold, etc. What matters is the Ah capacity and cold cranking amps (CCA). Silver usually refers to a higher end battery with a Silver matrix to prolong life. The only real way to tell is look at the label and/or look the model up on the internet.

There is no big secret about how old a battery is - as you say it is stamped into the case. However each manufacturer will differ and use a different code in a different place. If you know the brand, their Website, Google, or Youtube should show you how to work it out.

Standing for a week or so should be OK - you say there is no parasitic drain so does the battery voltage drop at all after a week, and if so how far?

12.3V resting is slightly low, I'd expect 12.8V disconnected and 12.5 on the vehicle. However as I've drained my Bosch battery to 5V on several occasions (or more accurately the dealer has by locking the car on the remote and allowing the failing alarm to flatten it over the weekend [1]) then 12.3V is about what my battery sits at and will happily start a 4.2L V8. This is a Bosch S5 Silver battery. What matters is how low it drops when you press the starter - this will show if the battery is good or not. Kwikfit will do a pretty comprehensive test of drain, charging, and battery capacity.

Daft question but is your solar charger connected to the battery or the power socket (ciggy lighter?). Very often the ancillary power sockets are disconnected when the ignition is off, so they do nothing. Sometimes one will be permanent live and another switched.

Paul


Hi Paul thanks for your response,
I always get it going, sometimes using a slave battery. (always carry the slave)
It has always been slow to turn-over - I can count the turns, (12~15 is not unusual, even this weather))
When I slave it more like 4~6 turns. It seems to need faster rotation to fire.
My understanding is that as it is direct injection the glow plugs only function at 0c degrees and I surely can't find any noticeable benefit from trying that practice.
I do notice a voltage drop over time - can't be accurate but it happens. I offset that by using a solar charger so the usual multimeter reading prior to starting is c12.2~12.4.
The mm reading shows 14v+ when running.
I have come to be suspicious of multimeters as one (several years old) would show 12.2v and a new one 12.7 in the same test. I recalibrated the old'un against a new AA battery but the new one has no way of doing that.
I can see that maybe 2 oldies maybe don't equal 1 good'un which is why I want to get a known good'un.
That good'un has to meet Ford requirements of being Calcium and mine of being new enough.
I recall driving a V8 petrol 3Ton Gs, early fifties, and recall it would fire up just leaning on the starting handle. If I recall it was a 6v system and 'tired very quickly'.
The solar charger connects to the power socket and I have tried various comparisons with direct battery connection and nver noticed any difference ie battery state or charging rate.

Standing for a week or so should be OK - you say there is no parasitic drain so does the battery voltage drop at all after a week, and if so how far?
That touches a nerve because it may be the real warning that however much one tops up and whatever it reads, if it can't hold charge it has to be replaced.
I will now try and hunt down the date codes.
Many thanks

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Re: Car battery ID

#244546

Postby gnawsome » August 15th, 2019, 3:24 pm

jfgw wrote:I had a K-reg Diesel Astra once which didn't start as easily as it should have done. When I replaced the battery with a calcium one of the heavier duty recommendation, the car started much more easily. I don't remember what the difference in CCA was, maybe 20 to 30% of the old one, but the starter motor no longer sounded like it was struggling. The previous two batteries lasted about a year each (the second was a replacement under guarantee), although the new one was double the price.

Julian F. G. W.


Hi Julian,
You seem to have had bad luck with your batteries at about 1 year.
I had 3years from a second hand Halfords(£19) and it was last being used on a 'European Bangers Rally' .
My battle is with finding knowledge and understanding it.

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Re: Car battery ID

#244616

Postby jfgw » August 15th, 2019, 8:25 pm

gnawsome wrote:Hi Julian,
You seem to have had bad luck with your batteries at about 1 year.


Cheap batteries and a lot of cranking probably did it. The lower CCA battery should have been enough though. The better battery required less cranking and lasted many years.

gnawsome wrote:I have come to be suspicious of multimeters as one (several years old) would show 12.2v and a new one 12.7 in the same test. I recalibrated the old'un against a new AA battery but the new one has no way of doing that.


That is quite a difference but may well be within the specification of a cheap multimeter. I have known very old analogue meters to read quite a bit under, possibly due to weakening of the magnet. My Fluke hasn't been calibrated lately but I would expect it to still be within spec., being the high quality instrument that it is.

Julian F. G. W.

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Re: Car battery ID

#244705

Postby bungeejumper » August 16th, 2019, 10:03 am

gnawsome wrote:I had 3years from a second hand Halfords(£19) and it was last being used on a 'European Bangers Rally' .
My battle is with finding knowledge and understanding it.

LOL, I haven't bought a used battery since my impoverished student days. The problem was always that you never quite knew where it had been - although in your case, clearly you did! And in the bad old days, middle-aged batteries were quite prone to fail because of fatigue in the internal connectors. I don't know if that's still the case?

The back of my envelope says that if I pay £100 for a new battery and it lasts me five years, it's cost me 38p a week. I'm one of those people who prefer to think of it that way, especially in midwinter when I'm late for an appointment. :)

Lots of luck!

BJ

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Re: Car battery ID

#244718

Postby DrFfybes » August 16th, 2019, 10:35 am

gnawsome wrote:
Standing for a week or so should be OK - you say there is no parasitic drain so does the battery voltage drop at all after a week, and if so how far?

That touches a nerve because it may be the real warning that however much one tops up and whatever it reads, if it can't hold charge it has to be replaced.
I will now try and hunt down the date codes.
Many thanks


That's the thing - if the battery is losing charge, then either it is duff, or there IS a parasitic drain. The drain should be easy to measure with the right meter (mine was £35 from Amazon) and needn't be too accurate because 'normal' drain is very low(20-40 mA) and the parasitic one much higher. However on a lot of cars systems can take a while to sut down, on mine the battery is in the boot so I need to wait 5 mins for the boot light to time out before testing.

Here is one thing to try - on my car I suspect it is the alarm internal battery that has died (2 quid part, 2 hours labour to get to it!). If I lock it on the key it doesn't drain. If I lock it on the alarm it doesn't show a parasitic drain for several hours. Presumably the internal alarm battery has then discharged and drains the car battery.

Paul

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Re: Car battery ID

#244742

Postby gnawsome » August 16th, 2019, 11:20 am

LOL, I haven't bought a used battery since my impoverished student days. The problem was always that you never quite knew where it had been - although in your case, clearly you did! And in the bad old days, middle-aged batteries were quite prone to fail because of fatigue in the internal connectors. I don't know if that's still the case?

The back of my envelope says that if I pay £100 for a new battery and it lasts me five years, it's cost me 38p a week. I'm one of those people who prefer to think of it that way, especially in midwinter when I'm late for an appointment. :)

Lots of luck!

BJ


I did buy new when I was using a vehicle regularly but I'm against waste (low key) and find no joy in buying. It's horses for courses and my requirements are small.
It used to be that a battery would fail progressively - then there was a period when batteries would fail without early warning. Maybe I've had 5 years of early warning.

The £19 battery was Oct 2016.
I'll confess that I am a touch parsimonious.

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Re: Car battery ID

#244752

Postby gnawsome » August 16th, 2019, 11:43 am

That's the thing - if the battery is losing charge, then either it is duff, or there IS a parasitic drain. The drain should be easy to measure with the right meter (mine was £35 from Amazon) and needn't be too accurate because 'normal' drain is very low(20-40 mA) and the parasitic one much higher. However on a lot of cars systems can take a while to sut down, on mine the battery is in the boot so I need to wait 5 mins for the boot light to time out before testing.

Here is one thing to try - on my car I suspect it is the alarm internal battery that has died (2 quid part, 2 hours labour to get to it!). If I lock it on the key it doesn't drain. If I lock it on the alarm it doesn't show a parasitic drain for several hours. Presumably the internal alarm battery has then discharged and drains the car battery.

Paul


Again you draw attention to possibilities that those 'wrath worthy' professionals never seem to consider.
I think I really need to review how the parasitic drain test was done, meanwhile I'll try with the manual locking.
I guess the accuracy of meters is not too critical, rather more so is the consistency of the readings and 'aim off for wind'. If I'm honest, I wouldn't trust me with quality instrument.
Meanwhile I'll have to print off a list of Calcium batteries suitable to the Focus and see if there's a used one on the shelf.
On a Ford battery part of the code reads -0117- taking a guess, that's July 2011
I asked Honda for info - just got the bum's rush


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