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Why is Battery Leaking?

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Old 06-26-2015, 10:07 AM   #1
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Why is Battery Leaking?

Searched a bit and didn't see anything quite like this.

I am going to include as much detail as I can.

My 1982 2WD pickup with 22r and California emissions has been in need of some attention for awhile. I desmogged it, which included removing the air pump, the EGR, air injection, BSVS, etc, and I used LCE block off plates where needed. Unhooked, but left all the wiring in place with intentions of removing it and the ECM later on. Rebuilt the factory carb, air & fuel filter, new plug wires. Did all this, and it ran much much better.

I drove it to work one day, and when I went out to drive it the next day I started it, and it seemed like there was way too much voltage. Headlights were very bright, blower fan blew very hard, and something under the dash had some smoke coming out. So I did not drive it.

I immediately got a new voltage regulator (external) and alternator for good measure. While installing them, I noticed something had (freshly) chewed the insulation off the big solenoid to starter motor wire and some smaller wires on the Electronic Ignition. It wasn't like that before, and I think that may have had something to do with my overcharging, but not sure. I fixed all that stuff and replaced the alternator and voltage regulator. When I started it, the severe overcharging symptoms I described above were gone.

Drove it for a couple days, and all seemed pretty good, but I noticed my battery was leaking acid, looking back on it now I think it was venting through the vent caps. This battery was in the truck when I got it 5 years ago, so I went to Pull-A-Part, and got an 8 month old Interstate battery for $25. It does turn over faster now, but then I noticed that this "new" battery is also "leaking". I am suspicious that is is being overcharged causing it to boil / leak out the vents? This morning I drove all the way to work (30 miles) with a volt meter attached to the cigarette lighter. It read between 12.50 and 13.90 most of the trip. After a while it stayed pretty constant at 13.60 or so (headlights on). After I turned the headlights off, it stayed constant at 14.10 volts. Is this excessive enough to cause the problem with the battery? I did not see any severe spikes or anything like I sort of was expecting. I've had this truck for 5 years and other Toyotas before and never noticed a battery that leaked regularly like this. WTF

I am considering switching to an internally regulated unit from a later truck, (or going GM alternator?) but was trying to put it off for a while. I was hoping the new (crappy rebuilt) alternator and regulator would get me by for a while.

Another problem (not sure if it's at all related to the electrical problem) that i think might be carb related: when I am going up a long grade and holding a pretty constant throttle position, it will sometimes jerk (only once) as it is losing speed. Every time I have watched the speedometer, it was at 57 mph (which correlates to some RPM but I don't have a tach). It doesn't do it everytime, but it's annoying, and that jerking has to be hard on the old transmission, rear end, etc.

Any Input on the battery or the jerking?
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Old 06-26-2015, 12:11 PM   #2
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You should check the battery voltage at the battery !!

If I read my voltage through a lighter socket adapter it is at least 1 1/2 volts lower then right at the battery.

The fact the battery is pushing out acid leads me to believe a over charging condition is happening.
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Old 06-26-2015, 01:11 PM   #3
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OK thanks. I will check that also and compare it with what I am getting at the cigarette lighter to see if there is a difference. Just wanted to monitor it while driving to see if there were any big spikes. I have checked at random times at idle at the battery and it seemed pretty reasonable.
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Old 06-26-2015, 01:46 PM   #4
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High voltage spikes will not cause it to over charge .

Constant being over voltage just a little can cause the battery to push out acid
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Old 06-29-2015, 09:38 AM   #5
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I checked the voltage at the battery and got 0.2 volts higher than the cigarette lighter, so while driving I am getting 14.3 volts or so max at the battery. My brother-in-law is a mastertech and looked up the specs, and 14.8 volts was the max spec, but apparently 14.3 in this case is enough to push out acid.

Is this common, and is there anything else I can do?
Will the battery eventually boil dry, or will it get so low and then stay there?

I also just remembered that when I first started the truck with all the new stuff for the first time, I did blow that 30 Amp fuse at the battery. I noticed smoke coming from the new voltage regulator at that time and shut it off, replaced the fuse, and all seemed OK. Maybe I should put my old voltage regulator back on and see how that does.

My brother in law also said that because it is a 45 amp alt and there is very little electrical draw from anywhere else on this old truck, that all 45 amps is going to charge the battery and that could cause it to overcharge. This doesn't seem right to me. I have always been under the impression that a difference in voltage is what causes current to "flow" and that a component (like a battery) will only take a large current if there is "room" for it, like if the battery is dead. Plus there is a 30 amp fuse, so there obviously can't always be 45 amps going to the battery.

Any thoughts?
Thanks!
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Old 06-30-2015, 12:17 AM   #6
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I can only wonder is there something wrong with your battery from the yard??

Are these batteries stored inside or could it have been discharged and froze??

Does it get cold enough to freeze where you are??

This is one of those things hard to troubleshoot if not up close and in person.
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Old 06-30-2015, 12:32 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigblue82 View Post
...apparently 14.3 in this case is enough to push out acid...Is this common...
14.3 is normal charging voltage. No, it is not common for 14.3charging volts to make battery boil over unless something's wrong with the battery.

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Will the battery eventually boil dry, or will it get so low and then stay there?
It will dry out and will not work well anymore.

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My brother in law also said that because it is a 45 amp alt and there is very little electrical draw from anywhere else on this old truck, that all 45 amps is going to charge the battery and that could cause it to overcharge. This doesn't seem right to me.
You are correct; Your brother-in-law is wrong.
Like Wyoming said, both batteries could be bad.
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Old 06-30-2015, 09:21 AM   #8
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Thanks for the info guys.

I am in Ohio. It does get well below freezing in the winter. The past 2 winters were really cold.

I am going to keep an eye on it for a while and watch the acid level and see if it continues to push acid out.

I may try the other voltage regulator, and if all else fails, I'll try another battery. It just doesn't seem right that both batteries would have the same problem. They both lost acid out the vent caps, internally, they didn't appear dirty or anything, very clean looking. And it was my first time getting a battery at Pull-A-Part, but they seem to do a pretty good job testing the batteries they sell. They drain them, and put new acid in and I guess put some charge to them that desulfates them, and before you walk out the door, they load test them again.
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Old 07-04-2015, 05:54 PM   #9
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If you keep using batteries that are leaking like that your battery area and possibly the hood will soon get nasty and rust.

It's not something you want to keep an eye on, it's something you want to FIX ASAP!
Other than a bad accident I can't think of many things that will TRASH the metal in a vehicle as fast or badly. It's the biggest reason I use AGM batteries now. I don't have to worry about battery connectors or cables much either.

Last edited by Odin; 07-04-2015 at 06:06 PM.
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Old 07-05-2015, 02:58 AM   #10
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Just a thought maybe your Meter is off to the low side if it is 2 volts off could make a big difference.

It would not be the first time.

2 batteries both pushing out acid ??

Both bad having a bad cell ??

Don`t just change things figure out what is wrong .
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Old 07-06-2015, 09:27 AM   #11
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Odin, I am already losing the war on rust (and physical body damage). It's an old beater now, so a little more rust is my least concern. I have used sledge hammers to straighten some metal on it when needed. Haha. Just keeping it reliable so I can get a couple more years out of it, and it's been doing me pretty good so far, already had it 5 years.

Wyoming 9, I also used 2 different volt meters to test and they read the same. I totally agree about figuring out what is wrong not just replacing parts, that is why I am reluctant to get another battery when both batteries have done the exact same thing. I have a spare voltage regulator already, so as a troubleshooting measure, I might try it out.
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