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Thread: OT, Auto: Bubbles When Battery Is Charging

  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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    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
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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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    Had a "Lifetime guarantee" on battery in one car I had. This providing I kept the car, non transferrable, took car back cos struggle starting. Was told "Can't exchange because alternator is overcharging". Told deskstaff to get onto battery manufacturer and head office re Honouring "LTG". Someone who knew better, told dobbin to check fluid, little black speckles floating in fluid denoted battery coming to end of its life and anything over four years life is a bonus. Battery was six years old, they sheepishly replaced it for free but was told they didn't do this service any more so wouldn't replace again. It still had two years min left when I sold the car.

    Regards Ian.
    You might not like what I say,but that doesn't mean I'm wrong.

  8. #8
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    You did not say how much that alternator was putting out, not a good sign with the battery but don't toast another if the alternator is overcharging...

    also - just because the alt. voltage does not increase with a rev does not mean the alt. is bad - can just mean it's always being regulated and if within specs is actually what you should see,,,

    back to the battery, most have a date on them, how old is it? all lead acid battery's produce sediment - they have a void at the bottom of the plates that allows this sediment to build up, on older battery's it's not uncommon for this sediment to surpass this lower void and start contacting the lower plates, if this happens you will get direct bubbling in concentrated area's as this is where all the charge electrons are being focused as it's more of a mild short than a typical cell, it will also cause the battery to drain down when not in use...
    Last edited by A.K. Boomer; 09-06-2019 at 08:13 AM.

  9. #9
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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.

  10. #10
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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..............

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