Tuesday, December 10, 2013


It's easy to tell a cold snap, because vehicle batteries die.  A month ago, my daughter called me and told me that her car wouldn't start.  She was in the Wal-Mart parking lot, so I grabbed some tools and went to her assistance.  Sure enough, a quick look at the battery revealed it was five years old, so I put a battery in her car.  Easy-peasy.

Two weeks ago, I tried to start my work car without success.  Lifted the hood, saw that the battery was six years old, so I went to the parts house and bought a battery.  Such is my karma.

An hour ago, Milady called me.  She's stuck at work, the Explorer won't start.  She purchased that vehicle brand-spanking new in the autumn of 2009.  That battery is four years old, and Ford probably didn't put a five-year battery in that vehicle.  Guess what I'm doing this afternoon?  You guessed it.


Bob S. said...

My wife's car got a new battery courtesy of an early Christmas present from her father. He arrived just in time -- for the Ice storm to sock everyone in and wipe out her battery.

Feel your pain

BobF said...

Well, look at the bright side. Now you can post your calendar for slightly preventative battery changes!

Gerry N. said...

I've been seriously considering finding a late 50's to mid 60's VW Bug, ideally with a sunroof. Da Missus and I had a '58 for a couple of years when we were first married and I loved that car. It had a sunroof and a 6V electrical system. Once a year I went through the electrics and re-did all the connections I could find, dosing all with dielectic grease, including the battery connections. Never had a battery problem or failure to start. (No coolant problems either.)

Rivrdog said...

My 99 Mazda B2500 pickup is a Ford Ranger under a different hood ornament. It has failed to start about 5 times since I got, all during weather below 50 degrees. I found out that:

1: Below 50, the OBD2 orders a different temp sensor into the start circuit. The proper temp srnsor determines how long the fuel pump pre-charges the injector rail, which determines the success in starting.

2: There is a fuel pump relay in the underhood fuse & relay panel. It is user-replaceable. Look at it and see if it is a real FoMoCo part ot a cheap asian one. The asian ones have a Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) of 2 years. It's a $15 part and a 10-second swapout. When the relay goes, the rail will not pre-load and you get no start.

3: The temp sensors are testable with a cheap digital voltmeter. An aftermarket Clymer manual will tell you where they are. I've had to replace one in the 10 years I've had the truck. PM on them means only pulling their cannon plugs apart snd putting them back together a few times to clean the contacts and improve any voltage drop back to normal.

4: The reason replacing the battery does the trick is that it improves system voltage two tenths of a volt or so, often enough to overcome the cruddy-contact voltage losses at the temp sensors or the weak fuel pump relay. Problem is, if the voltage drops are not fixed, as soon as the battery ages just a little, you are back to where you started.

5: Cold temps also cause voltage drops. If you think temperature might be the culprit for your no-start, try "bootstrapping" your battery. Turn on the headlights on high beam for 3 minutes. That drain will raise the internal temperature in the battery some, snd it could be enough to put the system voltage up to the start point.

Rivrdog said...

Excuse the spelling. It's an android tablet with constant-on auto-correct, and it confuses some letters, then hides them with scroll failure so I can't check the writing.

So solly Cholly.

mostly cajun said...

We gopt tired of the starting batteries on our emergency generators failing at inopportune times.

these things are 'professionally' maintained, checked every month, on at charger continuously, in a stationary location. They should last. However, I see 'should last' as a minus, when they way you find out that they are bad is that your generator doesn't start one dark and stormy night.

Accordingly, we arbitrarily replace them at three years. No failures since we made that change to our maintenance procedures.