Bad battery or charging issue? - Subaru Outback - Subaru Outback Forums
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-17-2014, 03:49 AM Thread Starter
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Bad battery or charging issue?

Electronics are not my thing. And by not my thing, I mean they tend to hate me and/or make people go, "That isn't/shouldn't actually be possible!

Anyhoo, onto the point. About 2 years ago I got rid of my worn out DieHard Gold battery (made by Johnson Controls?) and replaced it with an EverStart Maxx from WalMart (made by Johnson Controls). Now, I try and avoid WalMart as much as I can, but it was the best price for a battery when I was hard up for cash. After about 18 months, I noticed I was having a lot of corrosion on the battery tie down and around the vent caps of the battery. Water level appeared fine, I cleaned everything off and off I went. A month or two later, it was corroded badly again. Disgruntled, I took it to WalMart and they gave me a new battery.

Fast forward 6-8 months, I have a different job and no longer commute to work via Kalyee. She sits in the parking garage for 2-3 weeks at a time and gets used for brief interstate trips (10-30 miles) primarily. I last filled up the first week of January and still have almost half a tank of fuel. But the gorram battery is doing it again! I need to take my tie down off and sand/repaint it as it is now rusting from the corrosion eating off the paint, and the battery is a mess on the top. Posts themselves aren't horrible, as they have dielectric grease on them and the felt washers.

Ideas? I've been told it sounds like a charging issue, but I'm not sure how to troubleshoot that. I have a Scangauge II and it reads the battery at about 12.8 volts after sitting a few weeks and between 13.0 and 14.0 while driving.

2003 Outback wagon: "Kaylee". 144,000 and counting.
Basics: Quaker State Ultimate Durability 5W30, PureOne oil filter, Fram air filter, Valvoline Maxlife Dex/Merc ATF, Mobil 1 75W90, Michelin Primacy MXV4.
Mods: 2004 Forester XT shift knob, Fumoto oil drain valve, Phillips VisionPlus low beams, Phillips HIR1 high beam upgrade, Nokya Hyper Yellow 2500K fog lights.

Also: More rust than I care to think about.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-17-2014, 04:02 AM
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Interestingly enough I'm having the same issue with the factory battery.

Unsealed batteries need to breath when charging, when the do they can leak a little and that can cause corrosion. There is a reason you have a "drip pan" at the bottom of most batteries. Normally the battery will leak only when it's over filled, or over charged but it can leak under "normal conditions" too.

Clean all the outside stuff with baking soda and once you clean it carefully double check the water level inside the battery. I always recommend wearing eye protection when removing the covers!

Here in the NW batteries last FOREVER and locals often goes years without maintenance or replacement. The weather is so temperate that everyone knows someone that had a factory battery last 13+ years.

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-17-2014, 04:07 AM Thread Starter
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Clean all the outside stuff with baking soda and once you clean it carefully double check the water level inside the battery. I always recommend wearing eye protection when removing the covers!
I did that on my first EverStart, when it did it again I took it back. Now the same thing again, I'd rather not need to do this every few months. I have never had a battery corrode like this, and now 2 in a row. To say the least, I am surpised as the Maxx is typically rated very highly and is made by Johnson Controls, like many other batteries are.

I don't want to chuck it for a new and different brand battery (anyone know if an AGM type will handle the long sitting periods I have these days better?) if there is an issue with Kaylee and not the batteries. Just don't know what I'm looking for.

2003 Outback wagon: "Kaylee". 144,000 and counting.
Basics: Quaker State Ultimate Durability 5W30, PureOne oil filter, Fram air filter, Valvoline Maxlife Dex/Merc ATF, Mobil 1 75W90, Michelin Primacy MXV4.
Mods: 2004 Forester XT shift knob, Fumoto oil drain valve, Phillips VisionPlus low beams, Phillips HIR1 high beam upgrade, Nokya Hyper Yellow 2500K fog lights.

Also: More rust than I care to think about.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-17-2014, 04:20 AM
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Hmm, well then I'd recommend getting a full inspection on the charging system. It could be the alternator or related component is going out. Since you say you're not good at this stuff take it in.

It could be an AMP problem instead of a VOLT problem.

AGM is normally used for deep cycle or race driving when they are not using an alternator. AMG requires different charging usually and is more expensive. Lead acid is preferred for cars.

-Dave

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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-17-2014, 08:55 AM
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I'd hazard a guess for one of two things:

1) Alternator overcharging, causing rapid bubbling and thus gassing of the acid in the battery.

2) A crack in the battery case, around the positive battery terminal. Overtightening the cable can cause this. It's a somewhat common issue on JCI side-terminal batteries (GM vehicles). I used to work for them, in their Automotive division.

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-17-2014, 11:18 PM
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I think humidity can play a large part in corrosion on the terminals. The galvanic corrosion on your terminals is basically caused by a mixture of moisture, electricity and metal. To eliminate corrosion, you would have to get rid of any one of these elements. The only viable element would be moisture. Make sure you have a good layer of dielectric grease on it.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-17-2014, 11:39 PM
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I see a lot of Wal Mart batteries with corrosion, and yet, the **** thing passes the amp tests.

I think its cheap seals on the battery case allowing the gases to seep out.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-18-2014, 12:00 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cardoc View Post
I see a lot of Wal Mart batteries with corrosion, and yet, the **** thing passes the amp tests.

I think its cheap seals on the battery case allowing the gases to seep out.
I'm leaning this way. It is a PITA to have to keep an eye on cleaning the gorram thing every month or so, but as long as the battery is working right....

Lesson learned. Back to DieHard Gold or perhaps trying an AGM next time.

2003 Outback wagon: "Kaylee". 144,000 and counting.
Basics: Quaker State Ultimate Durability 5W30, PureOne oil filter, Fram air filter, Valvoline Maxlife Dex/Merc ATF, Mobil 1 75W90, Michelin Primacy MXV4.
Mods: 2004 Forester XT shift knob, Fumoto oil drain valve, Phillips VisionPlus low beams, Phillips HIR1 high beam upgrade, Nokya Hyper Yellow 2500K fog lights.

Also: More rust than I care to think about.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-18-2014, 05:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cardoc View Post
I see a lot of Wal Mart batteries with corrosion, and yet, the **** thing passes the amp tests.

I think its cheap seals on the battery case allowing the gases to seep out.
Uh... you must allow the hydrogen to vent out, otherwise it will swell up and crack the case during normal charging.

Perhaps you mean that it's also allowing liquid electrolyte to escape? That is a problem which occurs sometimes. Some vent designs are better than others. Some are sensitive to mounting type, vibration and orientation etc.

AWDFTW: have you checked the electrolyte levels?

The voltage numbers you've reported sound normal. I tend to let my car sit for weeks at a time as well, felt no need to do anything out of the ordinary for a battery.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-18-2014, 10:29 AM Thread Starter
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The fluid level in the battery is normal. As far as fluid properties, I don't have a tester.

2003 Outback wagon: "Kaylee". 144,000 and counting.
Basics: Quaker State Ultimate Durability 5W30, PureOne oil filter, Fram air filter, Valvoline Maxlife Dex/Merc ATF, Mobil 1 75W90, Michelin Primacy MXV4.
Mods: 2004 Forester XT shift knob, Fumoto oil drain valve, Phillips VisionPlus low beams, Phillips HIR1 high beam upgrade, Nokya Hyper Yellow 2500K fog lights.

Also: More rust than I care to think about.
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