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buckiller
11-29-2018, 09:42 AM
I was away from the van for about a month. When I got back, it started up but not as quickly, strongly as it normally does. Well, that's to be expected, honestly I am happy it cranked after a month! I drove a few times in the next few days, the first start was the only noticeably (to me) weak one. Then I had to go away again, this time for a couple weeks.

When I got back, again with the weak start, but I drove it for 1h, then after a bit another 30m. Couple days later for 22m. It sat for a few days and when I went to start it, it didn't have enough juice to start. I got a short charge+jump and drove for 30m. After a few hours, the van wouldn't start again and I got another jump and drove the 30m return trip. The next day it wouldn't start again.

It being black friday weekend, I figured I'd go ahead and get good deal on an AGM battery! The old battery has been with the van since before I bought it 5 years ago and I've always been pleased with it's cranking power and capacity; no signs of trouble until after this long holiday(s).

However, it doesn't really make sense to me why the battery would die like that.. so I did an in-line ignition-off draw test (trying to find some parasitic draw) after installing the new battery, and to my surprise it was pretty solid at 10mA after about 20s! Wow, so maybe the battery did just get old, quickly? The voltage across the battery terminals while the van was on was something like 14V, so charging OK (I had already checked that after jumping the car the first time.. it was charging).

Checking the forums, a few relevant threads:
Click no start- some tips. (https://sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=58993)
Battery not holding charge. (https://sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=13833)
Dead battery or common drain? (https://sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=62238)
Bad Sprinter experence (https://sprinter-source.com/forum/showpost.php?p=141306&postcount=30) (battery alternator wire harness)
Start Battery Replacement Information (https://sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=52421)

Now the part that I think might have been, a factor.. rain.

The night that the battery was dead for the first time it had been raining for a day or so and it was still raining (when I had to jump it, both times). When I popped the hood the first time, I noticed some water ingress at a few spots and (as I opened the hood) saw/heard water flowing, near the cabin air intake hole in the hood, but I couldn't tell exactly where that water had been sitting. I replaced the battery a few days later (today), after the rains had stopped for a few days.

Here are a couple pics of near the (old) battery:
https://imgur.com/gJ7WxvJ
https://imgur.com/E30sZka
https://imgur.com/0hWS5wG
:thumbdown:

As you can see, there was definitely water ingress near the battery. The cause was a completely clogged up windshield gutter (aka composter), I suspect. I cleaned the gutter out, so hopefully the water will drain where it is supposed to, instead of into the engine bay. It's raining again now, so I plan on checking in the morning for any wet spots. In the past 5 years of owning the van, it has rained numerous times. Though in the last year maybe not so much.. plus it was only this past year where I've been having to park under a tree (and catching all that debris in my gutter.)

So.. what do you all think? Should I perform another in-line ignition-off draw test once it stops raining? Maybe the rain was causing some short in the wiring, either at a low point (it it got into the old wiring harnesses) or near the battery? As you can tell in the first picture, some bits of the wiring don't look so good.

As for the old battery.. I guess I will take it to the store to be charged/tested (the machines at the autoparts stores tell you how much cranking amps it will do, or battery capacity, not just charge, right?). At what point should I just give them my old battery for the core charge refund, versus maybe re-installing the old one once it's healthy? I'm really hoping cleaning the gutter has solved my issue and it's not some other gremlin..

buckiller
11-29-2018, 12:32 PM
For some reason I am still awake and noticed the rain stopping, so I went ahead and had a peak.

Looks like the cleaning of the windshield gutters didn't help noticeably; battery area was wet wet wet. :cry: Additionally, noticed a small leak in the middle of the engine bay (so dripping directly onto the engine) and some smaller leak on passenger side.

I take it all this is not normal?

Album with captions: https://imgur.com/a/Osjfa6N

I did do another in-line, ignition-off draw test. Luckily the draw is still showing as ~10mA after settling. I'm hoping that means there's not some circuit persistently going bad when wet. Though, maybe the battery dying previously was some more instantaneous, sporadic short circuit? :thinking: Or is water like this "normal" and my battery dying is unrelated?

Aqua Puttana
11-29-2018, 01:43 PM
Wet modules or components could create a problem, but a wet 12 volt battery of itself shouldn't cause great problems.

Batteries can get old quickly. I recall a B Series V8 that I had. Started fine all winter. Spring came around with warmer ambient, started the van in the morning, drove to work, came out 8 hours later to a slow crank, no start.

You said the battery is 5+ years old...
It doesn't owe you anything. Return it for core credit.

I use a kinda big long cable tie to clear the drain slots on each side of the windshield gutter. The muck can build up there and plug solid.

:cheers: vic

Bobnoxious
11-29-2018, 02:03 PM
A possible culprit was discussed in June/July 2017 Tech topics.

"Insulation covering the positive battery cabling breaks down causing intermittent contact with the starter motor housing, which in turn causes arching or micro-arching."

Midwestdrifter
11-29-2018, 03:00 PM
As batteries age, they shed "exfoliate" plate material. On a flooded battery this falls to the bottom of the case, where there is a dead space below the plates. On an AGM it just sits on the plate surface held in place by the glass mat. If this material builds up enough to create a short circuit across one or more of the cells, that cell will constantly draw itself down over time.

A modest to high current short will show up as a warm cell. A slow draw may not. This can cause a battery to go flat in a matter of minutes, hours, or days.


For vehicles that are not driven very often (less than 2 hours per week), I suggest putting a 5W solar maintainer on the battery. For vehicles that sit for more than 2 weeks, disconnecting the battery negative is a reasonable approach.

DRTDEVL
11-29-2018, 03:18 PM
I think you are overthinking this. The battery was at least 5 years old. Its lifespan is complete.

Yeah, we've all experienced the one battery that lasted us a decade in life... mine was a Carquest unit in a 1987 4Runner. In reality, they die more often in the 2-3 year range in hot climates, and in the 3-5 year range in temperate climates.

Turn in that core, get your $15.

Midwestdrifter
11-29-2018, 03:26 PM
I have also had batteries develop a crack in one of the terminal (internal) bus bars. This can happen without warning, and the battery will not supply sufficient cranking current. In addition it will not charge properly due to the added resistance. In a matter of weeks the battery is dead.

I would no worry personally. You might check your running battery terminal voltage a handful of times over the next few months. As long as its hitting 13.8V, you should be good.

NobleOne
11-29-2018, 04:24 PM
I think you are overthinking this. The battery was at least 5 years old. Its lifespan is complete.

Yeah, we've all experienced the one battery that lasted us a decade in life... mine was a Carquest unit in a 1987 4Runner. In reality, they die more often in the 2-3 year range in hot climates, and in the 3-5 year range in temperate climates.

Turn in that core, get your $15.
Agreed. 5 years for a battery is a happy life.

Old Crows
11-29-2018, 04:26 PM
Just a comment. The 'original' to you battery has a yellow sticker on it: 2/11. That's an important 'clue' as to the root cause of the problem. The battery is/was 'at least' 7 years and 9 months old. That would be almost unheard of longevity for a sealed, lead-acid, battery. In other words, it was well past it's best used by date. Battery failure is un-related to the water issue.

The water issue is an entirely different problem. I'd suspect that from the photos showing all kinds of detritus, mud, dust, leaves and copious amounts of FOD that the normal draining of the fresh air plenum is obstructed. OTH, many vehicles drain water off the cowl and into the space between the inner and outer fender where it dribbles out behind the wheel/tire. That hidden pocket will be clogged up with debris and FOD... I've no doubt. And, a lot of this drain off pathway depends on the orientation of the van. Nose down, nose up, leaning one way or the other, etc.. Just parking it differently would create (possibly) a new pathway....

ptheland
11-29-2018, 05:50 PM
I'll chime in and agree that batteries suddenly die. That's my most common form of battery failure. They crank the engine just fine in the morning, I park at work, then can't run the interior lights when work is over. That typically happens within weeks of the battery warranty expiration. Put the new one in, return the old one for your core deposit and move on. You're way over thinking this.

Bobnoxious
11-29-2018, 08:19 PM
Leaves belong in the compost pile :rolleyes: MOOP = Matter Out Of Place = FOD (foreign object damage). Curious, when was the time the air filter was changed?

Considering you were doing the battery, time to do some related preventive maintenance.

See battery section. http://diysprinter.co.uk/reference/2007-sprinter-service-information.pdf

outbound
11-29-2018, 08:53 PM
2nd all the comments re 'it dont owe ya nuthin'
7yo batts can/will crap out at the drop of a hat.
this stuff aint rocket science folks.
(and i used to sell/install 10, 12 upwards of 15 thousand bux worth of batts (wholesale volume) a year...)
:2cents:

buckiller
12-09-2018, 01:42 AM
Thanks for all the comments!

I hadn't noticed the 2011 sticker on the battery. Even so, my first instinct was in fact to just chalk it down to an old, failing battery (with perhaps the recent long durations of storage contributing to the sooner end of life). It was just too many confounding factors that I was really concerned about: I didn't want to just install a new battery to see it die a week, month from now. I'm glad the in-line ignition-off draw test came back fine (though that's why I came here, was there something else to look for?).

The new battery hasn't had any issues so far (though, should I be checking the voltage w/ a multimeter regularly before/after it sits for a few days? What voltage would be normal in that circumstance? Is it dependent on the battery/chemistry (Should I look up the datasheet for my battery) or are these things super standardized?), even though water is still getting all up on it..


I use a kinda big long cable tie to clear the drain slots on each side of the windshield gutter. The muck can build up there and plug solid.


I cleaned everything out, I think. Should I just let that water drain as it wants on the inside side of the engine bay? Should I mod anything to influence where the water will go directly or protect electrical systems?


For vehicles that are not driven very often (less than 2 hours per week), I suggest putting a 5W solar maintainer on the battery. For vehicles that sit for more than 2 weeks, disconnecting the battery negative is a reasonable approach.

Sounds smart. I'm curious if there would be a more convenient (but still safe) way of disconnecting the battery? Like an inline high amperage circuit breaker/switch?

I'm not much of a fan of the screw/ratchet clamp/terminals. I wonder if there are terminals that are spring-loaded instead of screw bolts?

This past year I've definitely been guilty of letting the van sit for more than 2 weeks or longer, multiple times. I wonder what circuits are being used while the van is off/shutdown.. and if I should re-wire them to be on a dedicated battery (the van will have more home-made electrical systems eventually anyway).


The water issue is an entirely different problem. I'd suspect that from the photos showing all kinds of detritus, mud, dust, leaves and copious amounts of FOD that the normal draining of the fresh air plenum is obstructed. OTH, many vehicles drain water off the cowl and into the space between the inner and outer fender where it dribbles out behind the wheel/tire. That hidden pocket will be clogged up with debris and FOD... I've no doubt.

I tried snooping around over and under the van but couldn't really find where there were any holes obstructed (other than the ones at the ends of windshield gutter). Where can I look to try to clear any debris? I suppose I could try running a garden hose onto the windshield and watching where the water drains from?

Leaves belong in the compost pile :rolleyes: MOOP = Matter Out Of Place = FOD (foreign object damage). Curious, when was the time the air filter was changed?

I think a year or so ago. Coincidentally the air filter I replaced (from before I owned the van) had some MOOP due to the filter deforming.. haven't checked the one I installed.

Midwestdrifter
12-09-2018, 01:49 AM
There are variety of mechanical disconnect switches often use for boats or agricultural machinery. You could easily install one of these under the hood to disconnect the battery when not in use.