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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Nova Scotia

    An Unusual Battery Failure

    A recent battery failure was so unusual to me, I thought it might be of interest to you. Her parents away on vacation, their three and one half year old daughter is in our care for the next two weeks. Mrs. Eggbert and Grand-daughter chose to visit town on one of the hottest days this summer. About 95degF in the sun, not a breath of wind and fairly high humidity. The kind of weather that makes a beautiful day a bit unpleasant if one’s out in the sun too long.

    In the comfort of home, I suddenly received a telephone call from them. The car wouldn’t start. Wouldn’t crank over to be more exact. I offered all the suggestions I could think they could try over the phone. Wiggle the shifter in case the interlock switch was defective, try Neutral instead of Park for the same reason, make sure foot is on brake, but no go.

    I went to meet them, but no go for me as well. I checked the battery and cable connections and rapped the starter with a hammer, but still no luck, so I drove them home and went back for the battery.

    Now this is what’s unusual: Using my load tester, the battery appeared quite dead. As I dialled in some load, the voltage fell to about 2 volts and the ammeter didn’t budge at all. Same sort of thing when it was in the car where all the dash lights extinguished when I tried to engage the starter. However, I then checked the fluid with my hydrometer and much to my surprise, found that every cell showed up as fully charged.

    Very odd. A fully charged battery that won’t deliver any current. So off to the auto parts store for a new battery. I explained what I found, and of course the Parts Guy looked at me like I had three heads, but he went and checked himself. With his tester he could only obtain 9 amps. He didn’t have a hydrometer, however there was an internal one to the battery…. And the “green eye” was showing.

    As I carted my new battery away, I advised him and his assistants that the battery left behind was in fact, fully charged, and that as it wouldn’t deliver any current, it must be broken inside and that it could possibly explode if handled roughly. I warned them to be careful, and at the very least, wear safety glasses when handling the battery. After walking away a bit, I looked back and saw all for of them still staring at the battery in total bewilderment. None of them wanted to make the first move.

    So… an internal break seems the most likely problem, perhaps caused by excessive engine and ambient weather heat. There was no earlier evidence of the battery going bad, such as slow cranking or dash warning lights coming on. As much as I got a “charge” out of unnerving the auto parts guys, an explosion was a real possibility. Probably not if it was merely a piece of metal cracked apart, but if a piece broke off and a short occurred when handling… well, it might not be a very nice thing to be around.


    “A prudent person profits from personal experience, a wise one from the experience of others.”

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Hi John.
    That's not so unusual. When I worked for a car breakdown service I would come across this fault maybe 2 - 3 times a year. Had the same fault on my daily driver last year,started car with no issue and drove a few hundred yards and parked. Went to start a few minutes later and nothing on crank. Battery at correct voltage until any load on it.
    Changed battery and all good. Battery was only 3 years old and had been working perfectly.


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