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Thread: OT, Auto: Bubbles When Battery Is Charging

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  1. #1
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    Default OT, Auto: Bubbles When Battery Is Charging

    I think I need an alternator. My Sierra truck was acting a bit strange when I started it a couple of days ago. I have been caught with a dead battery before so I investigated. Battery meter does not show any increase in Voltage when I rev up the engine so I suspected the alternator died. I put my battery charger on the battery and it showed about a 50% charge. I don't know just how it determines that, probably a Voltage reading is translated to percentages. The Voltage reads about 12 Volts: to my mind 13 or 14 is more normal. So I let it charge and it has run for two days now.

    I checked the water/acid level while it was charging. All the cells were full, but I noticed that one and just one of them was bubbling. And that has me wondering. Is that normal? Why would only one cell have bubbles? Or is there also a problem with the battery: it is an Interstate, about two years old.

    I no longer do my own auto repairs. I am going to take it to my mechanic on Monday. But I want to know more about these bubbles when I go there. With using the charger I can drive it around town. The battery, when fully charged, seems to be good for at least a half dozen starts plus the drain of driving around for a couple of hours. It is charging overnight right now so I will be able to use it tomorrow.
    Paul A.

    Make it fit.
    You can't win and there is a penalty for trying!

  2. #2
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Alciatore View Post
    I think I need an alternator. My Sierra truck was acting a bit strange when I started it a couple of days ago. I have been caught with a dead battery before so I investigated. Battery meter does not show any increase in Voltage when I rev up the engine so I suspected the alternator died. I put my battery charger on the battery and it showed about a 50% charge. I don't know just how it determines that, probably a Voltage reading is translated to percentages. The Voltage reads about 12 Volts: to my mind 13 or 14 is more normal. So I let it charge and it has run for two days now.

    I checked the water/acid level while it was charging. All the cells were full, but I noticed that one and just one of them was bubbling. And that has me wondering. Is that normal? Why would only one cell have bubbles? Or is there also a problem with the battery: it is an Interstate, about two years old.

    I no longer do my own auto repairs. I am going to take it to my mechanic on Monday. But I want to know more about these bubbles when I go there. With using the charger I can drive it around town. The battery, when fully charged, seems to be good for at least a half dozen starts plus the drain of driving around for a couple of hours. It is charging overnight right now so I will be able to use it tomorrow.
    I'd quess your battery has seen it's best days and has imbalance between cells. Other cells are self-discharging faster or the bubbling cell has reduced capacity leading it to enter gassing phase before others.
    Replace if mission-critical, otherwise keep on eye.

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    I would surmise that the bubbling is due to overcharging of that cell because it has somehow lost most of its capacity. A fully charged battery should read about 13.2-13.5 volts after it has stabilized (an hour or so). Charging voltage is about 13.8 to 14.4. You might try reading the specific gravity of the cells with a hydrometer.

    https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/t...ad-car-battery

    You might try equalizing the cells as described here:
    http://www.evdl.org/pages/hartcharge.html

    More info:
    https://batteryuniversity.com/index....d_acid_battery

  4. #4
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    bubbling in one cell means that cell has substantial plate damage.

    just get a new battery.

  5. #5
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    Strange, more than sixty years ago I was informed that the caps on the top of the battery when being charged had to be removed to allow for H2 to escape freely? Even new lead acid batteries exhibit this.

    Regards Ian.

    Edit. I would suspect NON bubbling cells to be Kn****rd.
    Last edited by Circlip; 09-06-2019 at 06:03 AM.
    You might not like what I say,but that doesn't mean I'm wrong.

  6. #6
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    Whack the battery with a toaster and observe the voltage drop.
    That is the only way to test a battery.
    I don't know why you tempt fate with such things...
    A tow call is more expensive than a new battery.

    --Doozer
    DZER

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by johansen View Post
    bubbling in one cell means that cell has substantial plate damage.

    just get a new battery.
    Not always the case. I've seen new batteries that were left uncharged for several months go flat and bubble when put on a charger..
    Too high a charge rate or more than that particular battery can take can cause bubbling or so called boiling. Battery can get warm, hydrogen gas is produced etc.
    Over charging can cause boiling.

    JL..............

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    One of these is a handy tool for quickly diagnosing automotive charging and starting issues-

    https://www.amazon.com/GearWrench-24.../dp/B000RH38GE

    I've had alternators that were delivering the right voltage,but very low current.The meter just clips on the primary wire between the bat and the alternator.
    I just need one more tool,just one!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
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    I quit reading this thread when someone suggested "whacking the battery with a toaster.", whatever that means.

    Listen, just go to Harbor Freight and get this, https://www.harborfreight.com/digita...zer-66892.html This thing is awesome. I took a battery to Autozone to have it tested and they said it was good. My battery charger is supposed to test the battery too, and it indicated that the battery was good, but the battery kept discharging and I was starting to think that I had problem with the vehicle, a 2018 Cadillac XTS. I bought this gadget and it said the battery was indeed bad, and it was. I have tested many batteries with it and it never fails to give a proper indication of the battery's condition.

    Gil

  10. #10
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    Oct 2013
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    Upstate NY
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    All lead-acid batteries produce hydrogen gas when charging. You can't reliably diagnose a charging system issue by looking at the bubbles. As Doozer says, get a load tester on it.

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