'92 Accord Battery Problem

Greetings To All:
I have a rather mysterious issue with the battery in '92 Accord LX (4 dr. 2.2 liter) which I have been trying to resolve. In a nutshell, the
battery voltage keeps dropping to less than 75 percent (down from 12.6 v freshly charged) to about 12.25 to 12.35 v after only a few hours of sitting. This voltage drop occurs whether the battery is connected to the cables or not, and a "probe light test" revealed no hidden drain such as a trunk or glove box light. I guess my basic question is: do I need to buy a new battery? I know this may seem obvious, but a mechanic did a full electrical test on the vehicle a few months ago, and the only thing he found was that the 10 amp alternator fuse had corroded terminals. This fuse was replaced, but the alternator itself tested as good. I just tested the alternator again yesterday with a Motomaster Elminator unit from Canadian Tire, and it showed operation at 100 percent. I also charged the battery in the 12 amp mode from about 12.25 v up to 12.6 v in short order, but it quickly lost voltage down to 12.35 v within a few hours. Please note that the surface charge had been dissipated prior to all testing. The battery itself is a sealed, "maintenance-free" dealership OEM model and is less than a year old. It is the second new battery (in a row) to run low or bad in this car within the past three years. If the car sits in the garage for just a week, the voltage goes down to 11.5 v and of course the car then has to be jumped in order to start. I am relatively new to Canada, so I was wondering if part of the problem with short battery life up here may be weather related. In any event, thanks in advance for any information or suggestions. - Paul
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4ax.com:

Have you checked for charging voltage across the battery terminals? At idle it should be 14.4V.
If the battery is running down even though you have the cables disconnected, then you truly have a weird problem. I suggest trying the different manufacturer. Wal-Mart's Eveready batteries are pretty good.
It's NOT weather-related. If anything, Canada's cooler weather helps contribute to longer battery life.
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Tegger

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Hi Tegger:
I pulled out my digital multimeter tonight and checked the idling voltage as per your suggestion...it appears to be normal at 14.38 volts. Please correct me if I'm mistaken, but I am assuming that this reading, in addition to the facts I mentioned earlier, suggests that my issue is NOT charging system, starting system, or alternator related. The battery problem, I now recall, actually seemed to start about six months ago when my wife accidentally left the dome light on all night, necessitating a jump the next morning. Everything charged back up OK after driving around a bit, but I don't think the battery has ever been quite the same since. I'll take your suggestion and head down to Wal-Mart tomorrow for a new one. Thanks for your help. - Paul
wrote:

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Bingo. The battery was probably marginal (partly sulfated) to begin with and the deep-discharge was enough to kill it.
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That's probably it. It's not the first time I've seen a battery suffer from a total discharge.
However, 12 volts or more should not hamper starting (or operating) your vehicle and I would ignore it until it drops below 12 volts...
JT
Paul wrote:

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Hi JT:
Thanks for your post. Yes, the problem is that the thing keeps getting down below 12 volts if it sits for just a few days in the garage, and I don't want to damage my starter. Bottom line is I do my homework from now on before purchasing an automotive battery. Live and learn. - Paul
On Tue, 27 Mar 2007 15:09:39 GMT, Grumpy AuContraire

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If it's holding twelve volts, it will start fine.
JT
Paul wrote:

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The car will start fine with a battery well below 12 volts. That doesn't mean the battery is any good.
And it's hard on the alternator trying to charge a battery that won't hold 12.65V. The more amps an alt has to produce, the more heat it makes and the shorter its life.
Remember that the voltage regulator will reduce charging amps the closer the battery gets to full-charge.
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Tegger

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Paul wrote:

You are right to replace it. A battery like that puts a great deal of extra load on the alternator and doesn't do the starter any favors either. If it can barely make 12 volts unloaded then I wonder what it collapses to under the load of starting.
Automotive batteries are not built to take the stress of full deep discharges. There are special deep discharge batteries made for marine trolling motors and such.
John
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Gee, I'm getting quite a nice education about car batteries here. Almost like a free workshop! Anyway, thanks John (and Tegger) for letting me know that it is both the starter AND the alternator which go under stress when the battery voltage is too low. Yes, the car does start OK but I can "feel it's pain" (i.e. hear it turning over a bit too much) every time I go for the ignition, which causes me to wince since our '92 Accord is sort of like a member of the family. Like I said earlier, I used a good charger from Canadian Tire and got the battery up to 12.7 v pretty quickly, but then it just lost back down to 12.15 v after a few hours post clearing the surface charge. - Paul
wrote:

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I don't notice that you say how old the battery is anywhere. If you got it from a Honda dealer, they have a 3 year free exchange warranty (no pro-rated charges until after 3 years), at least they have that here in the US. If it is still in the free period, I would take it back to the dealer where you got it and ask for another one.
On 3/27/07 10:09 AM, in article TsaOh.200117$ snipped-for-privacy@bgtnsc04-news.ops.worldnet.att.net, "Grumpy

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Hi: Many thanks for letting me know about that....I will certainly try to get a refund since I firmly believe the battery was bad from day one. I finally took it out of the car tonight and read the following alphanumeric info.on the label:
Group 24 - 31500 - SF1 - C11JB, Label HS2F3
I'm not sure what date of manufacture this indicates, but the battery was purchased in late 2005. If I read the label correctly, it either means it was made in mid 2001 or mid 2003 -- too old to be fresh. Thanks again. - Paul

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Paul wrote:

Ah ha, even one run-it-stone-dead event can kill a lead acid battery, especially a cheap one.
John
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wrote in

IIRC,a fully charged lead acid battery is about 13.5 volts. I'd never buy a battery from the DEALER;who knows how long it's been sitting on a shelf(nobody buys batteries from the dealer...costs a lot more.);I bet the plates are sulfated and the battery is no good. It could even be low on electrolyte! Like Tegger said;buy a battery from Wal-Mart,save some money and get a fresher batter too.
BTW,most "maintenance-free" batteries are not really sealed,they have access caps that can be removed and distilled water added to top off the cells(and they ALL have to have vents to release the hydrogen gas generated.) Even "sealed maintenance-free" batteries lose electrolyte over time and that helps kill the battery even quicker.
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Jim Yanik
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Wow, Jim -- I really appreciate your post. Between you and Tegger, I am now practically certain that my problem is indeed the battery rather than the alternator or charging system. You know, I have finally learned that important lesson about staying away from the dealers, but only after I bought a battery from Honda (actually, it was this incident plus a lot of other suspicious stuff). I guess I was just naive, but I'm a southern boy and come from an area where people are friendly and honest, and I was able to trust my NC Honda mechanic for over 20 years. Toronto is a great place, but like any big city it has its fare share of shifty charlatans and the Honda franchises up here are full of them (and full of something else as well...). Nice people work there too, but the shifty ones unfortunately dominate. Now that I know a bit more about automotive batteries, it will be interesting to check the date code and compare it against the date on my original invoice. Since six months is the max. recommended freshness interval for auto batteries, my guess is that this one may be older. Either way, it's electrolyte under the bridge at this juncture and I will move on to bigger and better batteries from independent sources. Many thanks again for your very helpful information. - Paul

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12.65V with surface charge taken off.
Each cell of a lead/acid battery is worth approx 2.1V.

That's a "reduced maintenance" battery. If anybody's selling those as "maintenance free", he's lying.
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If the battery is loosing charge while disconnected, that is just sitting in its holder, check two things. First - ensure that the battery is clean (no dirt, etc on the outside of the case) and dry; secondly - have a mechanic do a hydrometer test to check the condition of the electrolyte. If the battery has been discharged severely, even once, it may never recover even with a full recharge.... DaveD

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Hi Dave: Thanks for your post. I opened the vent panels today and drew some of the electrolyte into a dropper. It looks OK and does not have a particularly strong smell...but then again, this is the first time I've ever done this so I can't really know for sure what I'm looking at. I'll probably pick up my own hydrometer in the next day or two and do a bit of testing as per your suggestion, as it might make for a good learning experience before taking the battery back to Honda. - Paul
On Wed, 28 Mar 2007 00:47:19 -0800, "Dave and Trudy"

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