The Ultimate Power Source ™

Tips & Support

Posted: Apr 30, 2011

CSI: Battery

Did you know OPTIMA Batteries is active on several hundred different message boards around the internet?  We market our batteries to enthusiasts and we know many of them will end up in very demanding applications.  We want to learn everything we can about how folks use (and in some cases, abuse) our batteries and we believe more knowledge about our customers and batteries, will lead to better products and more satisfied customers.

In some of the conversations we see, we come across folks who have had some issues relating to or directly involving their battery.  Those conversations are of particular interest to us, because we want to make sure we are providing the best level of customer service possible.  In many instances, simply recharging the battery will resolve many of the issues folks encounter and we're happy to offer some assistance.

In other conversations, we have read comments from folks who have gone through multiple batteries (ours and other brands) in a relatively-short amount of time, typically less than a year and sometimes, just a few days.  Although we understand replacing a battery is easier than replacing a faulty alternator and perhaps less complicated than tracking down a parasitic draw, we're surprised how rarely anyone suggests the problems these people are having might not be related to any of the batteries they've replaced.

We sell millions of batteries and though we strive for perfection, we know even the best manufacturers have not found a way to reach 100% perfection in their production processes.  However, when we do hear about folks who have had multiple issues with our batteries, we are interested in finding out more about their application and the circumstances surrounding their issues.  The battery pictured above was sourced from one such person.  We found him on a message board and he indicated he had three batteries that had failed on him in a relatively-short amount of time for reasons unknown to him.

Since Optima Jim was travelling near this individual, we offered to pick up his batteries, so we could take a closer look at them.  He agreed and they are now on their way to our lab, for teardown and diagnosis.  Our engineers have disassembled thousands of batteries, but many times, the likely cause of failure can be determined just by visually inspecting the battery.  That will likely be the case with at least two of these batteries.  While the original owner gave us quite a bit of information about these batteries and warned us they had some cosmetic damage from being near his welder, the batteries themselves are giving us even more information.

This battery clearly had impact damage of some kind and appears to have been dropped on it's corner with enough force, that the lid cracked open.  We advertise our batteries as being up to 15 times more resistant to vibration than standard flooded batteries and they are very robust, but they do have their limits.  The original owner didn't mention anything about this damage, so we don't know how or when it occurred, but we do know dropping any battery with enough force to crack the battery case itself will lead to failure.

Likewise, the original owner didn't mention anything about the condition of the top posts on the other battery, which also show signs of significant and repeated impact damage.  The force with which one of the terminals was hit was strong enough to distort the post and quite probably damage the battery internally and prevent it from functioning properly.

While this damage could've also occurred from dropping the battery on the top post, it is also commonly found on batteries that were installed under a hood that did not have proper clearance or on batteries where a hammer was used to install a damaged clamp.  Whatever the cause, the effect of a bent post on any battery is shortened life. 

We use a clay ball in all of our fitment studies, to make sure there is plenty of clearance between the top of our battery terminals and anything on the hood that may come in contact with the battery.  We also encourage all customers who are installing our batteries in what we consider "custom fitments" to also carefully check their clearance with a ball of clay.  Anyone who has ever dropped a wrench across a battery's terminals can tell you how dangerous that can be and a close encounter with a hood can have a similarly disasterous result.  For that reason, it is also a good idea to make sure unused terminals are properly-covered, to prevent accidental contact with metal objects.

All three batteries were deeply-discharged below 6 volts (10.5 volts or less is generally considered 0% state of charge), but because of the obvious physical damage to the first two batteries, Optima Jim wouldn't even think of attempting to recharge them.  The third battery is currently being charged and even though it started out below 3 volts, it is currently over 12 volts and hopefully will be able to hold a full charge when charging is complete.  This isn't necessarily a quick process though, so we understand that some folks may lose interest after a few hours and cast aside a perfectly good, but deeply-discharged battery.

If you are having problems with your battery, we would encourage you to visit our YouTube Channel, where we have several helpful videos, which may be able to help you solve your problem.  You can also contact our customer service department at 888-8OPTIMA or drop us a line at info@optimabatteries.com .

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