Dakota Battery Flat

Discussion in 'Tech/Mech General' started by Greystoke, Apr 30, 2013.

  1. Greystoke

    Greystoke Read Only Funster

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    Hi, like many other people on here I seem to be having battery problems on my Auto Trail Dakota, it is kept in storage and I left it for three weeks, no hook-up available. Now the battery is totally flat, I managed to get it started with a power pack and left it running for nearly an hour - turned it off tried to start it again and nothing. Not even enough juice for the ignition lights or central locking. Am I right in thinking it is now knackered? I looked under the cover on the floor and saw the plate attached to the + terminal shown in the picture. Now for the question, does anyone know if it is the nut with the red dot near it that has to be undone to remove the plate when I replace the battery and do I need to power up the fag lighter to keep the radio code, I have looked here for the answer to this question but still don't know.
    First post on the forum so please be gentle.
    Thanks
    Greystoke
     

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  2. PhilandMena

    PhilandMena Funster

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    I would advise you get the battery fully charged and then get it checked to see if it needs replacing. Running the engine for an hour will not fully recharge the battery, although I would expect enough charge to be put in to turn over the engine.
    Before replacing the battery you need to understand why the first battery had drained otherwise your just going to repeat the experience and that will be costly.
    You may have an alarm fitted which will be drawing power from the cab battery and this could be the cause of your problem.
    If your going to keep it in storage for long periods either fit a solar panel or disconnect the alarm which defeats the object of having it in the first place I suppose.
    One last thing, make sure you have not been drawing power from the can battery for something other than your alarm. Did you switch on the black kill button when you put it into storage to ensure nothing from the hab side was drawing power from the cab battery.
     
  3. Greystoke

    Greystoke Read Only Funster

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    Hi
    Thanks for the reply. I appreciate that an hour with it running would not charge the battery but I did expect to get some sort of life from it, there is an alarm fitted to the bus that was on when I got it, a Toad Alarm (not sure of the model no) so this probably is the cause of some of the drain as you say. There is a solar panel on it as well but it is stored inside, having said that it is directly under a big sky light but I am not sure if this would be enough for the panel to function. When it first went in storage It was in for a couple of weeks before we used it, no problems at all even after a few excursions no problems but when we had our cold snap we possibly should have started it up more regularly than we did and maybe this was when it gave up the ghost. Not sure what the black kill button is that you mentioned or where it is, we or I (now it's not working it's my fault!) turned the Sargent EC325 power off and the two switches for the entertainment system off, is there something that I should else that I should have turned off?
    Thanks again for any help
    Greystoke
     
  4. PhilandMena

    PhilandMena Funster

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    On my Autotrail there is a black button on the Sargent P.S.U. above the fuses. This is so you can disconnect all power the 12V from the Habitation area.
    Not sure which year your Autotrail is but look for this button and press it in next time the camper van is in storage.
    I don't think a light bulb source will be sufficient to charge a solar panel ! However, in direct sunlight the solar panel should keep the cab and leisure batteries topped up. Check if the system automatically switches from one to the other, if not check your control panel, it should tell you how many amps are coming from the solar panel and which battery it is charging. You can also find out if there is a charge when under the light you refer to, although I suspect it will be insufficient.
    I note you have asked the same question on the other forum (good idea) and their are some good suggestions on there including checking your alternator out. If there is no power being supplied to the battery with the engine running it will either be a fuse or a dodgy alternator.
    Get your battery fully charged before establishing if it needs replacing, if you can.
     
  5. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    Sorry, after 4 months without charge your battery is buggered. no amount of normal charging will bring it back to life.
    you may get some life into it with a de-sulfating charge....ie: in excess of 15 volts.constant.

    to remove the battery undo the bolt you mentioned and the whole plate will come off complete.

    if you back feed through the cig lighter socket to preserve the radio code make sure the socket is live with the ignition off otherwise you will need the ignition on.

    and also insulate the battery positive wire when you remove lt as lt too will be live from the backup battery.

    one hour running the engine is sufficient to charge the engine battery.

    engine battery maybe 100ah....alternator output maybe 150 amps

    if the battery was good, but flat, it would charge in around 40 minutes at 150 amps

    allowing for the amps to tail off as the battery volts rise it may take the full hour.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2013
  6. PP Bear

    PP Bear Funster Life Member

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    If your going to continue to store undercover in the future, and why wouldn't you as I'm jealous you have such a facility, then you could invest in some form of battery trickle charger/battery monitor that'll keep it topped up at its optimum charge for future use :thumb:

    I leave my Dakota out all year and the solar panel has maintained all batteries for me and to no ill effect :thumb:

    Good luck with it all and safe motorhoming :thumb::BigGrin:
     
  7. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    how did i read your post as 'left for 4 months' when it clearly states 3 weeks. :Doh:
     
  8. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    OP states no hookup available in storage.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2013
  9. PhilandMena

    PhilandMena Funster

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    As an afterthought, it has occurred to me if your motorhome is stored under some form of lighting, your solution could be to obtain a hook up source from the power that is supplied to the overhead lights.
    If this storage location is going to be permanent/long term then a small out lay or agreement with the owner (?) to arrange for an electrical connection for a hook up could be the way forward.

    Regards,
    Philip
     
  10. raysalaugh

    raysalaugh Funster

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    Hi Greystoke

    In your picture you will see two screws securing a red plastic piece,this needs to be removed also. Remember to disconnect earth first and reconnect earth last when refitting, my battery packed up last winter due to severe cold.
    Bought a new Varta with 5 year garantee from Tayna batteries for approx £110 delivered.

    Regards Ray
     
  11. Greystoke

    Greystoke Read Only Funster

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    Thanks for the reply,when I said skylight I actually meant a clear Perspex sheet in the roof to allow light in the building,I am still not sure if direct sunlight is required for the solar panel to work or just "light" I think the battery is probably a bit knackered,and a new one beckons.I would be more than happy to pay extra for the storage with electric,don't think he would be interested though as he seems to be full both inside and outside.Its a great setup and really secure just the electric missing and it would be perfect!
    Greystoke
     
  12. PP Bear

    PP Bear Funster Life Member

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    Ops, that'll learn me :Doh:

    :thumb:
     
  13. Greystoke

    Greystoke Read Only Funster

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    Thanks for that,will check it out. I looked online before at the Varta battery's ,they were 12v 100ah for about that price but when I checked the bus it was 110ah does this make any difference?
     
  14. SomeoneElse

    SomeoneElse Funster

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    The ah value is the storage capacity of the battery, generally the bigger the better. However do check that the new battery will physically fit into your battery compartment. Note that very often one corner, usually the bottom right, has a radius which limits the usable length by a couple of centimetres.

    When buying a battery whether by brand or not try to get a fresh one. Look for the manufacture date. Less than three months is fine, but reject anything over six months old. After all you are paying for a NEW battery. If you can't read the manufacture date (buying on line) then buy from somewhere that has high turnover to increase the chance of getting a fresh one.

    Also when the new battery arrives put it on charge to ensure its fully charged before fitting.

    Gordon
     
  15. PhilandMena

    PhilandMena Funster

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    You know that saying 'If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got'

    My point being, you need to make a change of practice to avoid a repeat of the situation you now find yourself in.

    All The best.
    Philip
     
  16. rainbow chasers

    rainbow chasers Read Only Funster

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    If a battery goes totally flat, then it usually kills the battery, or at best damages enough cells to leave it borderline.

    A new battery will be your only solution. You can get a higher ah battery, but this will only extend the life by a number of hours, and for storage would not make a huge amount of difference.

    To prevent battery drain, there are a few things to look at.
    1. After market stereos are a common drain point. Adding a switch to the EARTH will knock out both the stereo and the clock display - ideal for storage purposes.

    2. Alarms are also a common drain point. Many use a fair amount of power to function. There are decisions to be made here. If the storage yard is secure - consider disabling the alarm and using the tracker or a self contained tracking device in it's place. There are self contained quality devices which will alert you if the vehicle is tampered with or moved, and will last around 3 - 6 months between charges.

    If the storage yard is not secure, or you do not wish/need to keep the alarm active, then consider fitting solar panels or a wind turbine to recharge the battery - Many turbines are very effective and are fairly cheap now. This will keep the battery topped up enough to run the security equipment. Don't waste money on small dash top solar panels - they are pretty useless - you will need a proper solar panel, but don't forget you will be asking it to charge during winter with little or no useful light - but should be ample for keeping your drain down.

    3. Look into transferring power supply from the engine battery to the leisure for alarms - although this will not make the situation any better, the leisure is more resistant to being drained, and usually recovers well - and you can still start the vehicle!
     
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