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post #1 of 37 (permalink) Old 29-06-2008, 21:05 Thread Starter
CJJ
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Battery Checking etc

I have noticed a few people have had problems recently with batteries and charging etc.

As it is fairly easy to check things yourself, with the right equipment, I don't like to see people forking out huge money to electricians (unless it is me ), I thought I would do a how-to so that anybody who wants to have a go, can.

I will add checking the alternator etc later when I next have the inspection cover off.

There are several methods to check the battery voltage.

One easy way is if your Hi Fi has a voltage display. I would only use this as an indication of whether the car is charging the battery, as the actual voltage is not very accurate (mine isn't anyway)

First of all, select the voltage display which depends on your head unit, mine is a Pioneer AVIC.



The Voltage is the right hand meter

Check the display with the ignition on, but without the engine running. In this case it says 11.5V. I know for a fact that the battery voltage is well over 12.5V, so it shows how inaccurate the display can be.



Now start the engine and check the voltage again. If the Voltage is the same or lower then you have a charging problem. The Voltage shoul be about 1V higher if correctly charging.



There are other quick and easy ways to check your battery. I bought this device from the bargain bucket at Halfords. Not exactly sophisticated test equipment, but gives you some indication of what is going on.

It is designed to simply push into the cigarette lighter and give you a visual indication of the state of the battery.



Once in the cigarette lighter socket you should turn the ignition on, but not start the engine. You might not need to do this if your socket is permanently live.



As you can see, my vans battery is healthy. Now start the engine and see what the reading says.



The reading has now gone off the scale, which shows the alternator is charging.

Now if you want to do a proper job you should use a decent multimeter and check at the battery terminals. This will give you a more reliable and accurate reading.

The meter I use is a Fluke, but most meters work under the same principle.



To check the voltage you should set the selector switch to Volts, then connect the red lead to V and the black lead to COM (common).

Connect the other end of the black lead to the negative terminal of the battery and the red to the positive terminal. You should now have a reading of around 12.6V for a healthy, fully charged battery. If it is below 12.4V then it may need charging. Anything below 12V needs recharging or a new battery. While connected, switch the headlights on and the voltage will drop but should still stay above 12V. Switch the headlights off.

Now start the engine and look at the reading. You should now have about 13.8V which will show that the alternator is charging a healthy battery. If the battery is flat, you will see and increase in Voltage, but it will not be as high as 13.8V until it becomes charged.

The picture below shows the meter connected for battery Voltage and it also shows that it is charging with a reading of 13.9V.



That is how to check your battery and charging.

I will add further basic electrical checks to this when I get the chance.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Electrical Checks 08.jpg (66.6 KB, 1800 views)
File Type: jpg Electrical Checks 09.jpg (75.6 KB, 1680 views)
File Type: jpg Electrical Checks 10.jpg (61.2 KB, 1675 views)
File Type: jpg Electrical Checks 11.jpg (33.4 KB, 1762 views)
File Type: jpg Electrical Checks 12.jpg (39.6 KB, 1756 views)
File Type: jpg Electrical Checks 13.jpg (38.3 KB, 1676 views)
File Type: jpg Meter 02.jpg (49.6 KB, 1685 views)
File Type: jpg Electrical Checks 01.jpg (72.3 KB, 1670 views)
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post #2 of 37 (permalink) Old 29-06-2008, 21:55
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Thumbs up

Thanks very much for that very helpfull as i am having trouble at the moment with my battery.
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post #3 of 37 (permalink) Old 29-06-2008, 22:07
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Nice on CJJ, but what the hell is your stereo all about. Mine just says FM or CD, and sometimes the time
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post #4 of 37 (permalink) Old 30-06-2008, 17:22 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Broon View Post
Nice on CJJ, but what the hell is your stereo all about. Mine just says FM or CD, and sometimes the time
Ha ha ha. It's a satnav, cd, fm, ipod, handsfree bluetooth, reversing camera whotsit. You can watch DVDs on it and you can get an expansion unit so that you can watch TV on it as well. Never really got round to that.
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post #5 of 37 (permalink) Old 30-06-2008, 17:46 Thread Starter
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Chassis connection

Another thing that gives the effect of a flat battery is a bad connection. This could be down to it being loose, damaged or badly corroded.

To test a connection you need to connect the test leads to the meter, as shown previously, but turn the selector to resistance or ohms (Omega symbol). In this example I am testing the negative battery terminal to the chassis. Idealy the reading should be as close to zero as possible, showing that there is little resistance to the flow of current. In real world conditions you will probably see a couple of ohms.

You must ensure that you have good connections to a good known earth, so try a few different places. A tip, it is no good connecting to a metal bolt or screw if it is screwed into plastic (I have seen electricians do this, and have done it once or twice myself, it is not always obvious with colour coordinated panels). A good indication of this is if the reading is infinty.



You can see here that the reading is 29.9 ohms. This either shows a problem or I have chosen a bad place to test.

Choose a better connection. In the next shot I chose the ABS block as it should be physicaly bolted to the chassis and looked clean and free of corrosion.



2.2 ohms, much better. That will do for me. So, as you can see, your choice of connection is important.

If you just want to test a lead, for example the negative battery lead, then connect one lead to the negative post and one to the chassis connection. This will give you a low reading but will not necessarily show you whether the connection to the chassis is any good, just the length of cable.

You can also connect the meter across the connections in Voltage mode. If there is a substantial voltage when there is a load on (lights etc) then you have a bad connection. This is just another way of detecting a high resistance as it will drop Voltage across it.



As you can see, it is reading 0.003 Volts. Hardly worth mentioning. If it was 0.5 Volt or more you should worry.

If anybody has any electrical tests that they want explaining, let me know and I will try my best
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Electrical Checks 03.jpg (75.6 KB, 1618 views)
File Type: jpg Electrical Checks 04.jpg (71.3 KB, 1613 views)
File Type: jpg Electrical Checks 06.jpg (72.1 KB, 1606 views)
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post #6 of 37 (permalink) Old 30-06-2008, 18:07
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car lectricity is the work of t'devil....but that has enlightened me no end, I may even dust off my multi meter now, I've only used it for connectivity so far

.....rushes off to add yet another CJJJJJJ link................
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post #7 of 37 (permalink) Old 30-06-2008, 18:14
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Excellent, well done CJJ.
You know you could probably earn a living as a sparkie. LOl
David
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post #8 of 37 (permalink) Old 30-06-2008, 18:16 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Petevick View Post
car lectricity is the work of t'devil....but that has enlightened me no end, I may even dust off my multi meter now, I've only used it for connectivity so far
Is it this one Pete?

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post #9 of 37 (permalink) Old 30-06-2008, 18:18 Thread Starter
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You know you could probably earn a living as a sparkie. LOl
David
Don't tell my work that, they think I am the chief coffee taster.
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post #10 of 37 (permalink) Old 30-06-2008, 18:29
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Is it this one Pete?

blimey no, that ones got a finger and dials and probey things, too phusticated for Ibstock
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post #11 of 37 (permalink) Old 30-06-2008, 21:04
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Thanks CCJ - That is really helpful! I'm glad I found this site LOL :-D
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post #12 of 37 (permalink) Old 13-07-2008, 20:59 Thread Starter
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As promised I would show checking the alternator out for charging. To be honest, you get exactly the same from checking at the battery, unless you have bad connections at the battery. In other words, if it all checks out at the battery, then you don't need to do this check. If the voltage is low at the battery, then you might want to do this just to tick the alternator off your check list.

Set the meter to Volts. Connect the red positive to the alternator output and connect the black negative to a good earth. You should read battery voltage, minus a small amount for voltage drop in the cables.



Now start the engine and the Voltage shold rise to show that the battery is charging at around the 14 - 14.5V mark.

Attached Images
File Type: jpg Electrical Checks 14.jpg (77.1 KB, 1591 views)
File Type: jpg Electrical Checks 15.jpg (73.4 KB, 1574 views)
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post #13 of 37 (permalink) Old 13-07-2008, 21:36
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but isnt it the case that the only true test of a battery is to test under load. Having a good voltage reading dosnt mean your battery aint knackered.
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post #14 of 37 (permalink) Old 13-07-2008, 21:48 Thread Starter
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but isnt it the case that the only true test of a battery is to test under load. Having a good voltage reading dosnt mean your battery aint knackered.
True.

Do you want me to take you through the correct batterly testing procedure under load? I bet there are not many people out there with a battery discharge tester, so I thought I would keep it within the realms of test equipment that people might have.
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post #15 of 37 (permalink) Old 13-07-2008, 21:54
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True.

Do you want me to take you through the correct batterly testing procedure under load? I bet there are not many people out there with a battery discharge tester, so I thought I would keep it within the realms of test equipment that people might have.
i agree cjj, prolly not many people would be equipted for that. I just think it is important to point out that even if your battery does pass all the tests you mention, the fault you have MIGHT still be the battery.
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post #16 of 37 (permalink) Old 14-07-2008, 21:15
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Nice thread CJJ

And well needed from the posts we've been getting letely.
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post #17 of 37 (permalink) Old 09-08-2008, 19:52 Thread Starter
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Just adding this for anyone who wants to test relays. Page 14 onwards shows testing.

http://www.autoshop101.com/forms/hweb2.pdf
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post #18 of 37 (permalink) Old 10-08-2008, 07:48
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great how to again cjj I have had a meter for some time but was unsure how to use it correctly. I just had the auto electrician out to sort out my high line brake light .It was the usual break in the cable at the boot hinge ,which i told him to check first. he found the fault soldered it together and charged 30.00
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post #19 of 37 (permalink) Old 17-12-2008, 19:38
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BCI standard for SoC estimation of a 12V flooded lead acid car battery.

Test the battery at room temperature. Allow 4-8 hour of rest after charge or discharge.

Open circuit voltage State-of-Charge in %

12.65V 100%
12.45V 75%
12.24V 50%
12.06V 25%
11.89V or less Discharged
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post #20 of 37 (permalink) Old 17-12-2008, 20:01
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJJ View Post
Ha ha ha. It's a satnav, cd, fm, ipod, handsfree bluetooth, reversing camera whotsit. You can watch DVDs on it and you can get an expansion unit so that you can watch TV on it as well. Never really got round to that.
Ha, mine came with the TV as well, NAANANANANA haha :-)

Mind you, the idea of watching Top of the Pops at 120Km/h is not really a good thing me thinks..... (Also we don't get Top of the Pops here in Sweden anyways...)
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