Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

OT, Auto: Bubbles When Battery Is Charging

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • 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.
    SE Texas

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

  • #2
    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.
    Location: Helsinki, Finland, Europe

    Comment


    • #3
      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
      http://pauleschoen.com/pix/PM08_P76_P54.png
      Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
      USA Maryland 21030

      Comment


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

        just get a new battery.

        Comment


        • #5
          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, 06:03 AM.
          You might not like what I say,but that doesn't mean I'm wrong.

          Comment


          • #6
            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

            Comment


            • #7
              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.

              Comment


              • #8
                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, 08:13 AM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  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.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    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..............

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      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!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Put a voltmeter on the batter/alternator while running. Even at or near idle, you should see the voltage range mentioned by Paul above (13.8-14.4). If near the lower end, turn on the headlights or the A/C blower and check again. If the observed voltage stays in the normal range, your alternator is ok.

                        From your description I'd suspect the battery may be alright since it runs all day after a charge. Bubbling in one cell (usually the one nearest the + terminal) was common on older technology prior to the developement of maintenance-free batteries and is not necessarily a sure sign of death today.
                        Southwest Utah

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by wierdscience View Post
                          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.
                          You're not suggesting that meant an alternator problem, are you? Those symptoms suggest a fully charged battery or a battery that
                          won't take a charge due to a high internal resistance. If an alternator (or any electrical source) cannot deliver the required current, it
                          cannot supply "the right voltage".
                          Location: Long Island, N.Y.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Circlip View Post
                            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.
                            In my opinion "lifetime batteries" are a joke. Several years ago a company I worked for was selling "lifetime batteries". They made a big pitch to all their dealers and convinced them to buy hundreds of them. About a year after the big sales pitch the company announced the batteries previously sold to the dealers as "lifetime" models would no longer carry a lifetime guarantee. The batteries were outrageously expensive in the first place, and the only way the dealers could sell them was with the lifetime guarantee. With on such guarantee they were all but unsaleable.

                            The dealers all got upset so the company changed their policy to allow them to continue to be sold as lifetime batteries. The caveat was that when they needed to be replaced the replacement battery would no longer carry the lifetime guarantee. This needless to say riled up all the retail customers. They spent big bucks buying what was sold as a premium product, only to have the warranty altered after the sale. The consumers brought a class action suit against the company. It took over 5 years to settle with the consumers winning outright, or so they thought. In reality the company had prolonged the suit long enough that over 90% of the batteries had been replaced with non-lifetime batteries. Even though there were still a few in service the company had in essence won in that there were so few left to replace they were money ahead.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              One cannot diagnose a charging system without having a known good battery in place so eliminate the battery as a potential problem first. You do not need any fancy battery testers. Simply turn your headlights on when the battery is charged to the best of your abilities with your current battery charger overnight, and leave them on for better part of an hour. If the battery is good it will start the vehicle. Not the way I usually test a battery but I've seen a lot of folks forget to turn headlights off while doing lunch on a foggy afternoon and their cars always started without issue because they did have good batteries. The ones without a good battery, not so much. LOL

                              When starting, under normal conditions, what is the voltage while cranking? Should be at about 10 volts or better, below that you have a bad battery. Once running voltage should be high 13's low 14's depending on ambient temperatures it could be higher when cold. A good inductive amp meter in conjunction with a voltage reading will confirm that the charging system is functioning correctly. I have seen batteries that show only the proper voltage but had nothing to back it up because the under-hood light would drop that voltage reading down to 3 when it came on upon lifting the hood open.

                              Also while not a common failure mode I have on occasion seen the built-in ecm voltage regulator fail while the alternator itself functioned properly. This can get expensive since now the entire ecm must be replaced in order to replace the voltage regulator that is part of the ecm. Not common but it does happen.
                              Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
                              Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

                              Location: British Columbia

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X