Battery failing?

collywobble

Active Member
Jun 20, 2019
72
16
North Devon
Went to start car last Friday and it wouldn't and was also difficult to open with the remote key fob. The two days before it had only been used for a couple of 1 mile round trips. Put my battery tester on and it showed that the battery needed charging and 3 hours of my elderly Bradex charger and it started first time as it normally does. We have had the car a year and a half, it lives outside and it was first registered in 2015. It this an indication that the battery and/or the one in the remote fob is on the way out. Having charged it my battery tester indicated that the alternator was charging properly. The only strange thing is that the clock has gone back by 2 hours exactly and I never disconnected the battery! What sort of life do others get out of their batteries? I'm assuming that both the main battery and the one in the remote fob are both original. My elderly Astra (first registered in 2000) is only on its second battery and the first one lasted 13 years and 95000 miles!

UPDATE...car started fine for the last two days, this morning SWMBO (it's her daily drive) unlocks car and she says only the back door has unlocked so needed to press button on key fob again to open front door....turns key to start, it doesn't, second attempt and nothing....
 
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RUM4MO

Active Member
Jun 4, 2008
6,490
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South Scotland
Tricky one to be absolutely honest, if that car has an EFB which it will have if it is has a petrol engine and stop/start, and it has had a hard life, it may well be dying now.

Remote batteries in dumb VW Group keys, they tend to fit Panasonic from new, I replaced the batteries on my previous 2000 VW Passat 4Motion and my wife's previous 2002 VW Polo SE at around the 8 year mark, not because they were causing problems, but because I thought it was a good plan. I replaced the batteries on my current 2011 Audi S4 and my wife's 2015 VW Polo SEL a month or so ago, not because they had caused any problems but just because I thought it was time for the 2011 car so changed them all. By the way the old batteries open circuit voltage had dropped to about 3.02V on the 2011 S4 ones and the Polo ones were a bit higher at 3.04V so all 4 keys batteries had dropped well below the starting voltage of 3.2V open circuit voltage.

I don't think that the old Bradex (white metal case?) should get used on modern cars, well as long as the battery is still connected, mine went to a "tractor" friend years ago.

Now, on the subject of battery chargers - and with infrequent use, even the best batteries will need a bit of help, Amazon seem to have on their Black Friday deals, a 5Amp CTEK charger for roughly £60 instead of roughly £80, okay maybe a bit much still, but maybe a good deal unless you find a CTEK MSX 5.0 for less - these are good safe chargers and I have used one for many years to protect the AGM battery in my 2011 S4 which tends to sleep in my garage.

If you are replacing the battery in your Ibiza, maybe try to replace like with like, my wife's 2015 Polo 1.2TSI has a 027EFB 59AH 640 CCA (EN) which is 242mm L X 175mm W X 190mm H. Tayna Batteries seem to offer very good prices and fast delivery, brand of your original battery could be Exide so if you don't plan on recoding the battery management system, then I'd be sticking with getting another one.

The other option being could be to buy a smart charger like the one I suggested, and run the "reconditioning" mode maybe a couple of times to try to kick it back into being useful again. I have done that to my wife's 2015 Polo Exide EFB and it did improve its stats according to my CTEK battery tester, we try to never ever use our cars for very short journeys and I tend to switch off the auto stop/start as soon as I start the car, especially right now with movement restrictions and so less car usage.

Editted to correct "starts" to "stats" and "CTECK" to "CTEK"!
 
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collywobble

Active Member
Jun 20, 2019
72
16
North Devon
The original battery is an Exide - and no stop/start fitted - even if it did I would have disabled it! The spec for a replacement from a SEAT dealer is 51Ah and 280CCA whereas the Exide Premium I can buy from Tayna at half the price a dealer would charge is 53Ah and 540CCA!
No desire to recode anything as I don't have the equipment to do that, my Bradex charger has a red plastic case and seemed to charge the old battery OK - the battery tester showed it had charged and that the alternator was working - I might ask Father Christmas for a new one! Your advice on fitting an Exide again is much appreciated...thank you.
 

KXL

KXL
Dec 15, 2016
1,479
162
London, UK
5 yr old battery, mainly short trips, well, I guess the battery could be fading as well. I read somewhere (can't remember where) that it would probably take a 5 min drive, just to replenish the power required to start the car. Perhaps keep handy one of those battery powered jump starters? And perhaps take a longer trip soon on faster roads to get the alternator moving (unless that is knackered). I asked my dad (who had many cars) and he said his cars a battery replacement every 4-6 years is normal. These days perhaps the start/stop batteries are more heavy duty.
 
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RUM4MO

Active Member
Jun 4, 2008
6,490
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South Scotland
Battery trouble what ever its root cause can be very annoying, during lockdown an ex work acquaintance got in contact after his car went from slow to start to not starting, I suggested his best bet to get going was a battery pack jump starter from his local Halfords which was within walking distance and I had checked that it had what I had suggested in stock. So that got him going within 30 minutes, so his day was not ruined, I suggested that he took the battery out and recharged it fully, but he didn't and continued to need to use the battery jump pack, so I suggested he got the battery tested when things opened up a bit, or replaced that maybe 8 years old battery. He chose a different route and bought an expensive compact capacitor based jump pack, as the battery based one was too big to keep dragging around with him, so that was maybe £40 to get going and a further £80 to reduce the size of the "getting going" jump pack, ie £120 - then a few weeks later he got p'd off with needing to mess about and replaced his battery via his local garage, another £95! So far only neighbours benefit from him having a compact jump pack as he no longer needs it, so £215 to sort out a small car battery issue, not so good, it pays to know your enemy - ie is it the way the car gets used or is it a dying battery.
 

collywobble

Active Member
Jun 20, 2019
72
16
North Devon
Sat and read the owners manual last night...and learnt that the 'Magic eye' on the battery will show black if the battery is charged and OK, and yellow if it needs replacing. Well the one on the car's battery is black....is the 'Magic eye' an accurate indicator of battery condition?
 

RUM4MO

Active Member
Jun 4, 2008
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South Scotland
So far I've got been able to truly trust these magic eyes, even the when they were the reverse, ie yellow for good, that system did not seem to be worth much.

I've wondered if with these black is good ones if your usual problem is not being able to shine a bright enough light source down through that viewing port on the battery. Cheapest way to gauge a battery's condition after charging it overnight is to use a cheap analogue voltmeter to check its initial voltage, then watch that analogue meter during cranking, while cranking the voltage should stay up around 9 volts for a good fit battery. Using a digital voltmeter for this cranking check will not work due to the slow refresh rate.

Edit:- one of the CTEK smart chargers I have is a "test and charge" version, you can get it to test if the battery is good during cranking - unfortunately when I checked the Exide original battery in my daughter's previous car, a late 2009 Ibiza 1.4 86PS, the charger in test mode switched off - a really silly design as it looked like it needs at least 8V to operate, so with a really duff battery that still started the car okay, it could not stay on and hand out a "BAD BATTERY" test result!! - after replacing that battery with a Bosch equivalent (we are Costco members so good Bosch battery prices are available to us), when fully charged, I repeated that test and only got "BATTERY OKAY" I had expected to achieve "BATTERY GOOD" status, but was disappointed! I had already bought a cheap but good enough for that job analogue voltmeter so knew what was happening for both old and new batteries, but I did expect to get a "BATTERY GOOD" result from a new and fully charged battery!
 
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collywobble

Active Member
Jun 20, 2019
72
16
North Devon
What is odd is that when you Google 'Battery Magic Eye' nearly all the answers say that black = duff battery. I put this down to the poor translation from Spanish to English which I have found with other things in the handbook........... I have ordered a new Exide Premium EA530 from Tayna which is 53Ah and 540CCA for £45.95 plus carriage which is half the price that a SEAT dealer wants for a lower capacity battery!
 

RUM4MO

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Jun 4, 2008
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I took it to be that battery manufacturers had changed how these magic eyes worked as I can't remember seeing any showing yellow even on new recentish VW Group cars.

Trouble with buying batteries is just the same as buying tyres, if you need one today, then your wallet will get a pounding, ordering from an online warehouse always works better.

Edit:- I think that the original plan for them to show yellow when duff fell down as curd ended up on the area that should have gone yellow, so it was always black or blackish.
 

collywobble

Active Member
Jun 20, 2019
72
16
North Devon
Is it correct that I will have to maintain a live electrical supply to the car while changing batteries otherwise the car will lose all its settings ?
 

RUM4MO

Active Member
Jun 4, 2008
6,490
522
South Scotland
Yes, all the fuel/trip computer values will get lost, also the electric windows will need driven up, held, driven down, held - maybe, time will tell on that one, also the clock will lose its settings. The engine ECU will start collecting new values when you first start it up, I might not run perfectly at first but will soon collect new basic settings values.

Things called "computer saver" some of which just use a PP9 battery or have a mains to 12V supply are quite cheap, I nowadays tend to use a battery based jumper pack and have a lead to connect that into the car via the OBD2 port.
 

Crossthreaded

Active Member
Apr 16, 2019
309
70
What if I connect the battery from my car to the battery leads on the SEAT before I disconnect the old battery?
That'll work but the potential (no pun intended) for a short is great - been there, done that. better to buy a cheap power plug that fits your aux/cigar lighter socket and wire it to your spare (other vehicle) battery with crocodile clips. You'll probably need to leave the ignition turned on to get the connection through to the vehicle. Obviously be careful with polarity when wiring up the plug and connecting to the slave battery.
 
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collywobble

Active Member
Jun 20, 2019
72
16
North Devon
Crossthreaded - I like that idea...I see that cigar lighter plugs come in different amperage ratings so what amperage do I need - and presumably the wire for the leads will need to be the same rating?
 

Crossthreaded

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Apr 16, 2019
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Now that's a very good question collywobble! I'll try to attach a picture of my setup. I bought 2 male and 2 female sockets - one turned out to be fused although I didn't buy it for that, I bought it because it has an embedded wee green indicator light - then 2 black crocodile clips and 2 red ones. The wire was just stuff what I had lying around probably the sort of stuff you would wire up a spot/fog light with. My reasoning was that as some of the cheap memory savers work with a wee 9 volt dry battery the current demand, as long as I didn't twist the ignition key round to the starter motor position, would be minimal.

I stuck a male socket on either end of the white wire and then wired crocodile clips, on lengths of the black cable, to the female sockets. So, if I connect the female sockets to the males I end up with a long wire length with crocodile clips at either end to go battery to battery direct. Remove one of the female connections and I have a slightly shorter run available but with crocs on one end and the cigar lighter socket on the other so I can go battery terminals to cigar lighter. Take the croc lead off the other end and I can go cigar lighter on one vehicle to cigar lighter on the other.

This all looked great until the first time I tried it. absolutely nothing happened and I lost the radio code and front window memory on my boy's Astra! How can this be? After a wee bit of continuity checking it was obvious no current was coming through the white centre section. Of course there's a fuse in the larger of the two plugs which I hadn't taken notice of - and it was blown! (it's a very small capacity fuse, like something you'd find in a radio feed) So, again "guessing" that current demand is going to be low, but obviously not that low! I soldered a bit of wire across the fuse and bingo! all working good. To this day I couldn't tell you what the current draw is but I've used it on quite a few cars when needing to disconnect the battery for any reason (change of battery, timing belt work, etc, etc) and it works a treat with no sign of the wire heating up. I really must get round to sticking in something like a 5 amp fuse one day.

It now doesn't see much use as I've got a fancy CTEK which can do maintenance voltage so it can take the place of the battery instead. However I'll not be chucking the wires away anytime soon as I can use them anywhere whereas the CTEK needs to be plugged in to work.
 

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collywobble

Active Member
Jun 20, 2019
72
16
North Devon
Thanks for that...reading the owners manual it says nothing about keeping an electric supply to the car when changing the battery but in just over a year of ownership I have realised that the owners manual was written by the Spanish equivalent of the brothers Grimm!
 
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RUM4MO

Active Member
Jun 4, 2008
6,490
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South Scotland
My only consideration is that because with most VW Group marques, except Skoda, you need the ignition switched on to connect to the car via the ciggy lighter socket, the current being drawn will be a lot more than it would be if you connected to the car via the OBD2 diagnostic socket with the ignition key out of the car. For that reason, and I've never tried it out, if you bought a cheap "computer saver" and plugged it into the ciggy lighter socket and switched the ignition on, then removed the car's own battery, I'd expect that either the internal or external protection fuse for that "computer saver" would "pop", so you would end up back to where you would be if you had not bothered connecting a "computer saver".

Just removing the battery and fitting the new will be okay - apart from needing to maybe resetting the windows, losing the fuel computer data and the engine's ECU losing its latest stored values - which might not be a bad thing to lose, ie letting it start again from scratch.
 

RUM4MO

Active Member
Jun 4, 2008
6,490
522
South Scotland
Thanks for that...reading the owners manual it says nothing about keeping an electric supply to the car when changing the battery but in just over a year of ownership I have realised that the owners manual was written by the Spanish equivalent of the brothers Grimm!
I'd think that these owners handbooks are written for owners that just buy > drive > refill with fuel and kick the tyres now and again, I'd never expect any notes on battery changing, jump starting yes, but not replacing a battery as that could end up with problems if read by the wrong sort of owner.
 

Crossthreaded

Active Member
Apr 16, 2019
309
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My only consideration is that because with most VW Group marques, except Skoda, you need the ignition switched on to connect to the car via the ciggy lighter socket, the current being drawn will be a lot more than it would be if you connected to the car via the OBD2 diagnostic socket with the ignition key out of the car. For that reason, and I've never tried it out, if you bought a cheap "computer saver" and plugged it into the ciggy lighter socket and switched the ignition on, then removed the car's own battery, I'd expect that either the internal or external protection fuse for that "computer saver" would "pop", so you would end up back to where you would be if you had not bothered connecting a "computer saver".

Just removing the battery and fitting the new will be okay - apart from needing to maybe resetting the windows, losing the fuel computer data and the engine's ECU losing its latest stored values - which might not be a bad thing to lose, ie letting it start again from scratch.
I take your point RUM. So far I've had no problems doing it "my way" but it always goes against the grain leaving the ignition on with the engine not running - a sure recipe for a burned out coil on a car back in the 60's !
 
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