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Thread: Dead van battery

  1. #1

    Dead van battery

    Anyone with full power van. What I mean by this is, power door locks. remote siding door with remote controlled lift. An alarm or remote controlled starter would even take more power from the battery. Has your battery ever drained from not starting the van daily ? I let my van sit only 2 weeks and the main battery was dead. It's only 1.5 years old. Had to jump oit with the aux, which turned just enough to start. I know it's older than 6 years old. Do you think I need 2 good batteries to keep this from happening? I hope thats all it needs this happened in the winter too. I didn't start it for over 3 weeks. I had to charge the main battery. Any suggestion?
    Wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.
    Bob Seger

  2. #2
    Are your batteries 1.5 years old or 6 years old (confused by your comments)?

    I have a 2010 Honda Odyssey and had this problem with the original batteries. At a routine oil change, the dealership tested my battery (I bought the van new and had only had it for about 6 months) and replaced it under warrantee.

    That said, I was told by my conversion dealer that it might be a good idea to replace the battery with a better quality. All the electrical system was checked and there were no shorts or other problems. Today's vehicles with computers are always draining power, add the power needed to run the handicapped conversion equipment and there is a lot of drain on a battery.

    I had a "battery tender" or trickle charger installed. If the van is going to sit for a couple of days, I plug it in to keep the battery charged. The conversion dealer told me that letting the van sit for 2-3 weeks was a guarantee the battery would be dead.

    There have been some other discussion here about battery life. As I recall, several people have talked about replacing factory equipment batteries with Optima Yellow Top. There have been some other recommendations too. Try a Care Cure Community search for other discussions.

    All the best,
    GJ

  3. #3
    The 1.5 year old is an Advanced Auto Autocraft Gold. I bought his 99 E-150 in 2006 with a dead battery. My nephew grabbed the A.A. silver and it lasted 6 years. Not bad for 99 bucks. With the prorating I got the Gold for 100. I have no history on the van other than a 79 year old man had owned it. Got it from Flordia Cars on Ebay with 30k miles, truly still like new.The auxiliary battery is an Optima, it might be the original. I guess I'll just replace it. Your correct. I probably need 2 fully charged batteries at all times. This makes sense since the Optima would barely turn the motor.
    Thank you for your informative reply.
    Wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.
    Bob Seger

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by tvot View Post
    Anyone with full power van. What I mean by this is, power door locks. remote siding door with remote controlled lift. An alarm or remote controlled starter would even take more power from the battery. Has your battery ever drained from not starting the van daily ? I let my van sit only 2 weeks and the main battery was dead. It's only 1.5 years old. Had to jump oit with the aux, which turned just enough to start. I know it's older than 6 years old. Do you think I need 2 good batteries to keep this from happening? I hope thats all it needs this happened in the winter too. I didn't start it for over 3 weeks. I had to charge the main battery. Any suggestion?
    It's complicated.

    Your van has a electrical draw (every vehicle has one)

    Many of the adapted things in your van have a small electrical draw.

    When you add all of them up it can be enough to kill a battery in 2 weeks.

    On top of that you are more than likely not keeping your battery fully charged.

    I would recommend plugging a trickle charger into your van anytime it's going to sit for more than a few days.

    A really good automotive shop (something hard to find) can tell you what your cumulative electrical draw is and confirm there isn't something else going on.

    I have seen lift boards and or boards on other mobility equipment (even on factory stuff) draw more than they should causing problems like this.
    Jim, MA, MMET
    Bridgewater, MA

  5. #5
    Senior Member McDuff's Avatar
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    My van, 2005 Chrysler T&C Braun Entervan, doesn't seem to charge very well. I have an added remote start, and always try and start before I deploy ramp, still has problems if left sitting too long.

    I found if I put a charger on it and give it a "good" full charge, it is good for many months of short trips and weeklong sitting in between starts. So I have started doing a charge session 3-4 times a year and it has solved my problems.
    "a T10, who'd Rather be ridin'; than rollin'"

  6. #6
    Since cars are 12 volt, just like boats, and I have my NMEA (national marine electronics installer certification) and ABYC (American boating and yachting council) certifications and used to work on boats prior to injury, there are some solutions i think can be borrowed from the marine industry.

    If you are 20miles offshore, wind is blowing, boat won't start and you can't call on your radio, then this could have catastrophic results. Likewise, if it is raining, blowing, dark, cell phone battery is dead, etc. and you have SCI then this could have catastrophic results too. Oftentimes an automotive repair place doesn't see it as this and your mechanic probably has the physical ability to walk for help, climb under the hood, etc. and that is what he would do if his battery went dead so he may not have the sense of urgency about this that we have. They guy can probably fix anything mechanical with your car but sometimes added electrical loads can make them grumpy!

    Blue Seas Systems has an "add a battery" kit. It has an auto charging relay and is for a two battery system. http://www.bluesea.com/products/7650. I have installed them on boats when there are two or more batteries, or when adding a battery to a single battery system. It isolates the starting battery from the "house bank" (the batteries that run everything else) and then if all of the auxiliary appliances run down the battery, you still have a dedicated starting battery that won't be run down. You can get your engine started and the alternator will charge the house battery to run the other appliances (lift, locks, etc.). It might take a minute or two to get the secondary battery up to a charge to run the lift, but the motor will be running so you won't be stuck.

    When I was able to work on boats, we would routinely install solar panels, aux battery charging systems, isolators, auxiliary batteries, etc. I had helped a guy with MS install an auxiliary battery w starting battery isolator to a solar panel on roof of his van so he always had starting power. It can be done.

    If you can find a marine electrician (www.nmea.org is a good place to start) they may have fun helping you come up with a solution as they are already programmed to think outside the box!

    One of my earliest teachers drilled it into my head that batteries don't die--they are murdered! Most vehicles come with thin sheets of lead in the battery (starting battery) vs. the thick plates of a deep cycle battery. Starting batteries are not meant to have large discharges. They are meant only for quick bursts to engage the starter to start the engine. You give them deep discharges they will die prematurely.

    Every battery should have a label to give you an idea of the "amp hours" or "reserve capacity" of the battery. A battery worksheet like this http://www.wholesalesolar.com/battery_sizing.html can help you figure out if maybe you need a bigger battery than what you currently have. you can add up the amp draw of your lift, inverters, any additional appliances you may have in your vehicle and see if you need additional battery storage capacity to run what you need to run in addition to the starter.

    Sorry for being long winded, first post on this forum. Just found you guys today after learning about you from Univ Wa rehab folks. If I can help in anyway, please feel free to ask.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Automotive Innovations View Post
    It's complicated.

    Your van has a electrical draw (every vehicle has one)

    Many of the adapted things in your van have a small electrical draw.

    When you add all of them up it can be enough to kill a battery in 2 weeks.

    On top of that you are more than likely not keeping your battery fully charged.

    I would recommend plugging a trickle charger into your van anytime it's going to sit for more than a few days.

    A really good automotive shop (something hard to find) can tell you what your cumulative electrical draw is and confirm there isn't something else going on.

    I have seen lift boards and or boards on other mobility equipment (even on factory stuff) draw more than they should causing problems like this.
    We had this problem too, you would thing the conversion people would automatically put a trickle charger on the adapted vehicles as standard equipment. I mean it would be a lot easier for a chair user to plug a cord in than try to get a charger or jumper cables hooked up.

  8. #8
    Senior Member ZEN12many's Avatar
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    I have a 2006 Ford E-250 that had similar problems. It turned out it had two problems. It had some stairs for the passenger side that was never shutting off. And the battery was shot.
    TM 2004 T12 incomplete

  9. #9
    Senior Member Kulea's Avatar
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    As a contrary experience, I have a 95 E150 w/ dual batteries (after market adaptation of Ford system). The van regularly sits for over two weeks between starts. Other than a battery dying of old age or me leaving an interior light on, I have never had a dead battery. When one battery is dead, the other can always compensate. I have the two batteries isolated when the key is off (or out). The main runs the starter and regular aux (radio, lights etc). The second battery only runs the door, lift and power seat base. When the engine is running, both batteries get charged. I have a remote start.

    So, if the 2nd battery is dead, I can remote start the engine, and still run the lift. If the main battery is dead, I can run the lift off the 2nd and, when ready, flip a switch which engages the 2nd battery for the starter. Both batteries are premiumish starter batteries (no deep cycle, our lift acts much like a starter, so a deep cycle is inappropriate). The batteries seem to last about 5-8 years. Since they are isolated, I can always tell which battery is starting to die.

    My guess is that your old battery is dying and your system, if it is the stock Ford dual battery, is not an isolated system, so the dead battery is draining the good battery. In the stock Ford set up, the 2nd battery isn't really a spare since it isn't isolated. In that stock system, two batteries are acting like one big battery, allowing you to run auxiliary stuff with the engine off for longer periods (like when camping). But, since they are always connected, a drained battery keeps trying to get charged from the good battery, causing the good one to drain as well. I had that system at first and found out the hard way that the 2nd wasn't acting as a spare. So, I had the after market isolation put in.
    C-6/7 incomplete

  10. #10
    Senior Member lazierdog's Avatar
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    I installed a battery cuttoff switch in the cabin of a secondary vehicle that I don't drive often and haven't had any issues since. Knock on wood!!!!

    http://www.autozone.com/autozone/acc...er=422687_0_0_

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