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Discussion Starter #1
I’ve had my 2001 2.0 TS 156 Sportwagon from new (well, 800 miles actually!) and done over 140,000 miles in it. I have just replaced the Alfa/Exide battery it was delivered with!!.........
 

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Excellent, must be a record :thumbs:
 

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Aye! Batteries last forever if you look after them. My old mum's Uno had a Magneti Marelli battery from new that lasted 12 years... :thumbs:

I've only ever lost batteries because they went discharged through non-use and then they're never the same again, even if you do manage to charge them up..

I think the key is to keep the battery constantly in use.. and 140k sounds like your has been.

It's another reason why huge mileage cars are actually a better bet in some regards, than very low miles ones.

Ralf S.
 

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I've just replaced the battery my 1999 Ducati was shipped with and it wasn't looked after; it would often be flattened through lack of use in winter months but it still soldiered on after a recharge. My mechanic couldn't believe it when I told him it was the original - they normally only last a few years.

The new one has the luxury of an Optimate conditioner permanently attached to it. Great bit of kit.
 

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I'd say you were a bit lucky there then.. :thumbs:

Normally batteries fail when there is an internal short-circuit that effectively reduces the number of working plates in a cell. You can get a short from lead sulphate build-up (it's that white powder that accumulates in the bottom of flat batteries) and you can get a short if one of the plates warps or fractures and touches the plate(s) next to it.

If you have a discharged battery, the acid's specific gravity falls and it can then attack the lead plates, forming the lead sulphate. It falls to the bottom of the cell.. and eventually builds up. If it reaches the level of the bottom of the plates, it shorts them out.

Meanwhile the plates are getting attacked by acid and so are becoming thinner (the lead is now at the bottom of the cell). They also become more brittle.. so they can snap off their mounts next time you get a bump or vibration and the loose plate can become wedged in there, held up by his mates (shorting them out).

So a good battery has thicker plates and no lead sulphate in it. That makes it more robust and since more plates are working, they also make more juice and hold more charge..

If your battery is a bit weedy (sulphated?) it's worth adding those battery aid type tablets.. They dissolve the lead sulphate a bit and that would reduce some of the short-circuits. That can help your battery live longer.. but obviously can't put the lead that's been dissolved back on the plates...

Keep the beast charged is the only way to look after the plates... but in case you thought that's all... :D

Don't use too high a charge current. Limit it to 10% of the battery's ampage, as a maximum. Too much current makes the plates hot.. and hot plates warp (you guessed it) making them touch and short the plates next to them. Trickle charge the beast using as low an ampage that makes it charge in the time available...



Ralf S.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks Ralf S. I think the battery failed through lack of electrolyte, but assumed (was even told by garage) that it was sealed. However, having fitted a new one I’ve found that you can take the label off the top of the old battery and then prise off the top with a screwdriver to reveal the cells. I’m tempted to top them up, recharge the battery and give it another go just for the hell of it. Looking into the top of the cells though it does appear that in a couple of them the plates are visibly ‘wrinkled’, so I don’t hold out too much hope!
 

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Don't worry about the wrinkles.. it's all surface area. :thumbs:

Most "sealed" batteries are a bit of a misnomer, since the electolysis of the acid creates water vapour which has to vent somewhere, otherwise you'd get a pressure build up... so they leave a vent.

Obviously the electrolyte level eventually drops and the plates lose efficiency (since they have to be under the electrolyte level to make any amps).

Just top up the battery as normal (about 4-5mm over the top of the plates, if you have to guestimate it) with distilled water and then charge it using a weedy ampage for as long as you can (though overnight should be plenty)... then treat it as a regular battery..

Batteries can take a fair bit of abuse.. so don't worry toooooo much about a temporary lapse. :)


Ralf S.
 
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