Car Battery Problems

  morddwyd 20:58 07 Nov 2011
Locked

Over the last couple of weeks I have found that the car battery goes flat if the car sits in garage a few (three or so) days.

I have a charger, so it’s not an emergency, and so today, having double checked a couple of times that nothing had been switched on, I took it back to the main dealer from whom I bought it, new, less that six months ago.

They are forty miles away.

They had it from 8.30 until 2.00 and said that they had found the battery needed charging, and they had now given it a full charge and it should be OK.

Now I have been retired for ten years, and my electrical knowledge might be a little rusty, but I would have thought that a battery that needed a charge after a fast 40 mile run was a symptom of a fault, rather than the fault itself, and I would have been looking at the alternator or a duff cell.

However, my suggestion of a deeper fault was received somewhat patronisingly.

After all, I am a time served aircraft engineer, and they use 24 volts. What could I possibly know about a car, which uses a 12 volt system!

  OTT_B 21:50 07 Nov 2011

It does sound like either a battery fault or a charging (alternator) fault.... The caveat to this is if the car only normally does very very short runs (esp so if it's diesel). It can cause low charge issues with the battery that the 40 mile run may not have fixed.

  Graham* 23:29 07 Nov 2011

I had to call out the AA when my 4 year-old Corsa wouldn't start. He tested the battery with a special meter, and declared it duff. He had a replacement on board, but it cost me £73.

He told me 4-5 years is the life expectancy these days. His new battery came with a 3 years roadside warranty.

  spuds 00:31 08 Nov 2011

Vehicle batteries can be funny beasts at the best of times. I have a old Ford Sierra estate that is used for carrying and towing all sorts of items around the yard, and the battery in that must be at least 15 years old. Considering that the vehicle is only used infrequently, the battery seems to work first time, every time. (fingers crossed)

Another vehicle I have caused concern not all that long ago, when the battery (4 year old) failed suddenly. Got a replacement from the local car accessory shop which failed within two days, so obtained a third battery, Europarts own brand (Bosch?) with lifetime warranty. And everything seems back to normal.

  morddwyd 08:37 08 Nov 2011

Thanks for the responses.

The car is normally garaged, and as I said, I have checked and double checked that no lights are are showing, no glove compartments open, and all power sockets unplugged.

I've also left it with the alarm off (I have that option).

Covergirl

"Then on your next scheduled visit, charge it overnight before you go, tell them this and ask for a replacement while they assess your battery over a three or four day period - enough for it to go flat. Perhaps phone them first and suggest this approach?"

My next option, and they were advised of this approach yesterday!

I also intend to leave it a few days with the battery disconnected - that may at least indicate battery or electrical system.

  SparkyJack 08:50 08 Nov 2011

Lots to work on here Covergirls suggestion would prove the problem once and for all- it only needs a cooperative main dealer.

The battery it self is never off- all sorts of stuff is taking current - Radio, Alarm, Central locking- and hidden interior lights [as suggested] boot/glove box- where a switch is not cutting out.

  johndrew 10:12 08 Nov 2011

Whilst I agree that a failing battery could be the cause of your woes, there are others.

Many cars have relays with diodes which prevent battery drain. If the diode fails or is by-passed in some way a trickle drain will occur. An example of this would be the Montego where the main relay (controlling wipers/heater fan/etc) had a diode across its power feed.

Another cause is chafed wiring which provides a high resistance to earth. Often this is a result of badly routed 'extra' wiring for tow bars or ancillary equipment added after manufacture.

Not knowing your car it is not easy to confirm, but you may wish to consider alternatives as well.

  SparkyJack 10:45 08 Nov 2011

A sideways move here I recently has a situation where when locking the car. the central locking behaved oddly, Hazards kept flashing and side lights were very dim.

Central lock Fob would not operate and when I opened on the Key the siren went off - but very weakly.

Contacted the Garage next morning and it was deduced in all probability flat battery.

Put the battery on charge and thus it proved to be the remedy.

But putting the battery on charge its self was a nightmare.

It has a cover to remove - two clips - OK.

Then I found the terminals could bot be reached until I had also removed a lasrge car width panel secured with 'Star Head' screws[have any of you got a suitable driver?]

This enabled the charger clips to be attached[Negative terminal off]

But I then discovered should the battery needto be removed- a further car width panel would hsave to come off and a long reach socket drive needed to reach the cecuring plate screw. The days off DIY motoring are over it seems.

  morddwyd 11:01 08 Nov 2011

The car is a Citroen C4 Grand Picasso, bought new in May.

This means, at least, that it is a conventional battery, fitted in the usual place - under the bonnet.

On the previous model it was a silly little thing, under the front passenger seat!

  spuds 12:17 08 Nov 2011

You can always consider purchasing a 'load type' battery tester from somewhere like Machine Mart. That will soon prove if a battery is suspect or not.

Halfords or most car accessory shops should have this device, and if you speak nicely to them will most possibly test the battery and circuit for free (it only takes a few minutes)?.

  johndrew 15:44 08 Nov 2011

Covergirl

You shouldn't knock the Montego, especially the diesel version, They were excellent for constant speeding (70mph) up and down motorways and doing high mileages in a short time period.

I do agree they did have a few bodywork problems in the longer term and one or two common mechanical faults but as a work horse they were hard to match for the price.

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