Possible Battery/Alternator Problem

texasmike

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I recently noticed that battery water was coming out of two of the front three cells. The level in the middle cell was normal but the level in the cells on either side was lower but was still above the plates by about 3/4". I removed the battery, cleaned the mess and corrosion up, repainted the tray and put the battery back in. I decided not to add any water to the low cells and drive it for a while, keeping an eye on it.

It's been a few hundred miles and it's still doing the same, only not with the big mess. Here's what I know: it has an Exide battery that is 37 months old and the specific gravity in all six cells shows good. It has an Ultima 78 amp re-manufactured alternator which has about 2,000 miles on it. The battery readings are: Engine Volts
Off 12.90
On 14.51 at idle
On 14.34 at idle with AC and both hi & lo beam on
On 14.40 at 1,800 rpm with AC and all headlights on

What's next?? As always, thanks ahead of time for any help/suggestions.
 

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Ok to me the readings look good. 14 1/2 volts is a great figure, and many older rigs can barely push 13 volts at idle with headlights on.

Typically a battery loosing water like that is because of over charging, however I've also noticed that some brands are simply messy especially as they age. So even though the specific gravity of the battery looks good in the end you'll probably end up replacing it. I would be sure to check grounds, and alternator to battery connection. Also the fact that it only seems to be affecting two cells is a good indication that it's a battery problem, not a charging system problem. I'd be curious how that battery performs on a load test.

If there is still a warranty on the battery I'm sure it would be attractive to use it, but I'd strongly encourage you to purchase better quality battery such as Interstate or A/C Delco. If you have a costco membership you can get an interstate there and it'll be less than $100. I think I paid $89 for my group 78. I don't know if you have Fred Meyers in Texas, but if you do they carry interstates, but use to be a little more the costco. A/C Delco batteries retail are ridiculously expensive ($149 at autozone), but if you happen to have a friend that has a shop, and willing to get you a battery, you should be able to get it for less than $100 as well. I would stay away from duralast, super start, most of the house brands aren't that great. Even though there are only a few battery manufactures, for example interstate makes super start in the same factories, but the super starts are built with different plates and specs. so oreily's auto sell them cheaply.

Hopefully this helps.
 

texasmike

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That's great information and kinda what I thought. It's a 36 mo battery so there's no it's out of warranty. I'm headed to Costco tomorrow. Thanks!
 

AuroraGirl

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That's great information and kinda what I thought. It's a 36 mo battery so there's no it's out of warranty. I'm headed to Costco tomorrow. Thanks!
I wouldn’t discard it yet. The specific gravity is a check that should be done specifically a way and your results corrected for ambient temperature as well.

did you verify 100% charged battery as well as multiple distilled water fills before testing the electrolyte? Did you correct the results for temp? Did you ever equalize your battery? Do you ever service the battery by adding distilled water in the past?
have you used a hold down for the battery? Have you been in any small collisions? Did you check the specific gravity result against spec?

If your gravity was good that indicates to me the battery lost that electrolyte physically but it wasn’t boiled because boiling should loose water not acid.
 

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Do you actually drive it enough to potentially overcharge it?
 

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That's great information and kinda what I thought. It's a 36 mo battery so there's no it's out of warranty. I'm headed to Costco tomorrow. Thanks!
I'll tell you what, Costco sells interstate batteries cheaper (at least in my area) than my shop can buy them for, so you sure to be getting a deal.

I wouldn’t discard it yet. The specific gravity is a check that should be done specifically a way and your results corrected for ambient temperature as well.

did you verify 100% charged battery as well as multiple distilled water fills before testing the electrolyte? Did you correct the results for temp? Did you ever equalize your battery? Do you ever service the battery by adding distilled water in the past?
have you used a hold down for the battery? Have you been in any small collisions? Did you check the specific gravity result against spec?

If your gravity was good that indicates to me the battery lost that electrolyte physically but it wasn’t boiled because boiling should loose water not acid.

Taylor, his battery is loosing water / acid from two of the cells. Regardless of specific gravity test, I would discard it based on loosing water out of two cells. If he was loosing water out of all cells, or had higher voltage readings we'd be looking at an overcharging situation. I do understand your point about how specific gravity testing is done don't get me wrong, but even if he had not performed that test I'd still come to the same conclusion.
 

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I'll tell you what, Costco sells interstate batteries cheaper (at least in my area) than my shop can buy them for, so you sure to be getting a deal.



Taylor, his battery is loosing water / acid from two of the cells. Regardless of specific gravity test, I would discard it based on loosing water out of two cells. If he was loosing water out of all cells, or had higher voltage readings we'd be looking at an overcharging situation. I do understand your point about how specific gravity testing is done don't get me wrong, but even if he had not performed that test I'd still come to the same conclusion.
I’ve seen specific cells have sulfation worse than others and my logical route was to suggest cleaning up the outside, fixing the solution with water or new acid, and then equalization on the battery. A lot of nice battery chargers can do that as a function now and it’s pretty good in my opinion(as well as a smart charge that does it in stages while normal charging) because it could free up some of that **** and if he still experienced loss of Two cells then either he has a damaged case or sulfation that can’t be brought back without a lot of work and buying new acid and getting into it on a cheaper battery which I wouldn’t recommend so much

I had a battery that didn’t have the wetness but it really got hot in a cell. And it looked visibly different than the others and I shocked treated it with my chargers “refresh” or whatever button and it made it work like new. Idk if it was just prone to it from factory or if my truck had a charging system issue but the battery in it has no issues for months now and it’s been daily drove.

I only added that last tid bit because it’s a 140amp 3g Ford alternator from a rebuilder company so I wouldn’t say it’s an impossible situation but not likely either
 

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I'll tell you what, Costco sells interstate batteries cheaper (at least in my area) than my shop can buy them for, so you sure to be getting a deal.



Taylor, his battery is loosing water / acid from two of the cells. Regardless of specific gravity test, I would discard it based on loosing water out of two cells. If he was loosing water out of all cells, or had higher voltage readings we'd be looking at an overcharging situation. I do understand your point about how specific gravity testing is done don't get me wrong, but even if he had not performed that test I'd still come to the same conclusion.
If he gets the new one from Costco or whatever id personally keep the core to find out what it was. If it wasn’t leaking and it had been heat I would refresh it and have a good spare battery for whatever but I have a lot of **** that would mean less moving batteries lol. And if it leaked, discard by returning for a core and not even hesitate either. I have a thing for damaged batteries makes me uncomfortable
 

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The battery was installed on June '18 when I took possession of the truck and started the restoration 52.7k original miles. I finally got it to my garage on Nov. '20. It now has 54.5k on the clock. Whatever is coming out of those front two cells is definitely corrosive as it made a mess of the battery tray. I topped up all of the cells with distilled water about 8 months ago and it's only the front #1 & #3 cells that are low. It is a top (not original side) post battery and has the bottom hold down. For $100 bucks or so, I'm going to just replace the damn thing and quit worrying about it. What do y'all think about the sealed batteries? And thanks for the additional help, Taylor.
 

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The battery was installed on June '18 when I took possession of the truck and started the restoration 52.7k original miles. I finally got it to my garage on Nov. '20. It now has 54.5k on the clock. Whatever is coming out of those front two cells is definitely corrosive as it made a mess of the battery tray. I topped up all of the cells with distilled water about 8 months ago and it's only the front #1 & #3 cells that are low. It is a top (not original side) post battery and has the bottom hold down. For $100 bucks or so, I'm going to just replace the damn thing and quit worrying about it. What do y'all think about the sealed batteries? And thanks for the additional help, Taylor.
If you are confident it was leakage not seepage from vents and sloshing about internally, then I think you are safe to do that. But mechanical damage is usually visible.
Wanna see some lol
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The yellow paint is my marks to indicate the damaged portion and wrote bad on it because I’m not even going to risk using a volt meter on that sucker it’s going to sit on a shelf until I need a battery then 4 of its buddies are coming to advanced or autozone for a field trip.
 

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I think it’s been 30 years since I have seen a battery with removable covers. Are they still made like that?

Wasn’t the Delco Freedom battery one of the first “maintenance free” batteries marketed?
 

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Yes @Matt69olds . And this is from December production so 7 months old

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the yellow was my exes name because I got this battery for free by warranting their not old, dead battery that I had in my car trunk before we stopped seeing each other.

It was an old Taurus so thankfully it was the exact battery group that my truck calls for. Something came out of it good?
 

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Thanks for all the pictures but I'm sure that I don't have any case damage. You may have a point about sloshing around, since the fluid is quite a bit lower in the #1 & #3 cell. I'm going to bring them up to the cat's eye level and see what happens. I just can't figure out why the #2 cell, along with 4,5 & 6, remained at the proper level. So do you think the maintenance free (sealed) batteries are as good as the cap type? Both my QX 80 and Genesis have the old style cap type.
 

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I think it’s possible those cells are more dense or possibly just have more sulfation and thus less mre resistance and heat and that could have even the situation to boil water. The reason I asked about case damage was boiling electrolyte or evaporated should loose only the water. The acid shouldn’t be much different. But. Sulfation breaks apart sulfuric acid to be created as well and you would be left with more water which would have a tendency to evaporate or boil more etc etc. double pronged sword. If you find a batte try charger that can repair a battery per se try that after testing to see if your battery looses it again.
The specific gravity question was about basically if you are going to need to add water or acid which you may need both. Napa sells a box with a bladder inside that has acid. You can the out the tube into the cell and allow acid out. Use PPE if you ever do this. I would dump your battery cells honestly at that point just to have the proper solution in each.

if it doesn’t loose it again or at least you don’t think it’s leaking from damage, I would do the charger repair which will charge it at high voltage for periods of time and bring it down and ramp up and it will break up that **** on those cells. If it works you’ll see more CCA too. But you may want to save dumping any electrolyte if you were for that step. But you don’t have to do any of it

andnon the batteries. Yeah. Non maintenance and maintenance ones will both work. A maintainers free is just less to worry about. Not many people actually maintain a maintenance battery either.

I would say it lasts as long as you let it by your use as the owner.
Wisconsin winter really put batteries to The test up here.

something you may consider for your battery going forward no matter what it is would be a battery blanket or isolater. It would help lower the temp of the battery and water loss would be less. And sulfation not as bad.
Also heat shielding or relocation are other ways.


Making sure battery posts are clear is also a huge one. Ever feel how hot those puppies can get on a good connection?
 

texasmike

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Okay............thanks. Where did you learn all this stuff, are you a chemist? I studied both organic and inorganic chemistry at A&M but that was many, many years ago and since I didn't use any of that stuff in my profession, I forgot most of it.
 

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