Starter battery problem ? (1 Viewer)

Mar 30, 2022
1,538
1,474
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87,744
MH
Swift Suntor 590RL
2006 Swift Suntor on a Fiat Ducato with a 2.3jtd engine.
Started the van this morning for the first time since driving it back from Taunton 3 weeks ago to go on a trip.
Van started first flick as usual.
I drove less than 2 miles to a garage to check my tyre pressures.
After checking the pressures I turned the ignition the first click and lots of lights came up on the dash the same as every time then after a few seconds they go off as usual, I turn the key and nothing happens no click absolutely dead and the dash goes blank.
I try this several times then open the bonnet to check obvious things like battery connections.
Everything appears fine so I ring my breakdown cover.
Guy turns up I show him what's happening he says the starter battery is flat.
Puts jump leads on it and it starts fine.
Seems very weird to me as less than 2 miles ago the battery was fine, I have solar and a battery master so the starter battery is always fine and starter battery is 14 moths old.
He says drive it for half an hour and it will be fine so I drive the 90 minutes to my sisters. Get there then after 30-40 minutes go to leave and it's dead again.
Put a multimeter on the battery and it shows 12.7v, turn the key and it drops straight to 0v.
Jump start it and it shows 14.2v, and my leisure batteries are being charged by the B2B.
Turn it off and it's dead again.
Has the battery just simply failed on the 2 mile drive ?
 
Last edited:
OP
OP
H
Mar 30, 2022
1,538
1,474
Funster No
87,744
MH
Swift Suntor 590RL
Without knowing battery age I would say battery shot, as not holding charge. Modern batteries can die very quickly particularly in the colder months.
Battery is 14 months old maintained by a battery master.
 
Upvote 1
Nov 13, 2011
1,486
3,544
Lincolnshire
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18,889
MH
PVC
Exp
30 years
How did you check the battery voltage? If you had the probes on the terminals and it went to zero, then I suspect a dodgy battery terminal connection. Make sure you have the probes on the actual battery lead posts. If it then goes to zero, you have a dead battery, RIP.

Geoff
 
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Jul 28, 2021
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British South West Somerset
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83,033
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Rapido Dreamer PVC
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Aug 6, 2021
92
143
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panel van conversion
Maybe the battery has failed - but to check the earth strap attach a single jump lead between the battery negative post and a good earth point on the engine (could use the lifting eye if its a Fiat) and see if it starts. If it does that would suggest the gearbox to chassis earth strap is high resistance. It may be securely attached each end and look ok but can corrode internally at the crimp on the eyelets - its a well known problem. I have replaced mine as a precaution.
 

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Upvote 0
May 19, 2018
252
397
Funster No
53,980
Have you checked the alternator output? If the battery is not getting charged while running it soon runs flat. You may see the charge warning light come on while driving. I had an interesting drive to the garage in the dark with a bad alternator and declining battery. Luckily all the traffic lights were green!
 
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Jul 11, 2017
14
5
Chester
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49,420
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A Class
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2008
How did you check the battery voltage? If you had the probes on the terminals and it went to zero, then I suspect a dodgy battery terminal connection. Make sure you have the probes on the actual battery lead posts. If it then goes to zero, you have a dead battery, RIP.

Geoff
Agree....In this scenario, definitely the battery terminals are the first thing to check
 
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Dec 24, 2014
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Ever since lighting was by Calor gas.
A battery can show good voltage off-load but die instantly when a load is applied if it develops an internal fault .
I stopped for fuel after a 90 mile run and the battery (which had never given any trouble) was dead when I tried to restart it for that reason.
(The chap in the kiosk wouldn't let me jump start it on the forecourt due to the danger of explosion. Luckily I was able to enlist the help of a rugby team that arrived in a minibus and pushed me off the premises to jump start it - from the leisure battery).
 
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OP
OP
H
Mar 30, 2022
1,538
1,474
Funster No
87,744
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Swift Suntor 590RL
The battery post connections are good.
The alternator is putting out 14.2v, measured on the battery posts.
So it could be a failed battery.
The earth strap appears fine but could be the problem I suppose.
The vehicle is now an hour and a half away from me.
My breakdown cover company will recover it to a garage on Monday to have a new battery fitted.
It's just that I'm not 100% sure the battery is faulty.
If it is then fine I'll obviously pay to have a new battery fitted but the "technician" they sent didn't check anything at all.

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Feb 19, 2020
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North Ayrshire
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Adria Matrix 670SC
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I had the exact same symptoms on my son's car. They can suddenly fail. His battery had good voltage reading but wouldn't turn a sheet of paper over. If the battery is fairly new does it have a guarantee?
 
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OP
OP
H
Mar 30, 2022
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Swift Suntor 590RL
I had the exact same symptoms on my son's car. They can suddenly fail. His battery had good voltage reading but wouldn't turn a sheet of paper over. If the battery is fairly new does it have a guarantee?
Yes the battery is 14 months old and is well within warranty.
 
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Mar 30, 2022
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Swift Suntor 590RL
Although having had dealings concerning a battery that failed well within warranty once before, years ago on a car, I don't think the warranty is worth anything.
 
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Aug 10, 2012
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cambridge
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I had a BMW battery develop an open circuit outside a cake shop. Pulled up , bought a sticky bun and it was completely dead on restarting . New battery required

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Aug 18, 2014
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Wouldn't that still stop it starting on a jump ?
usually when jumping the red cable goes on the battery live & the earth clamp goes directly on to the engine.
If a plate has gone inside the battery it can do what you have then another time start ok.
 
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Feb 22, 2016
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York
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Bailey 620 Approach
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Since 2015
I had a BMW battery develop an open circuit outside a cake shop. Pulled up , bought a sticky bun and it was completely dead on restarting . New battery required
Love the detail about the cake shop. What type of sticky bun was it? Chelsea bun? Viennese whirl, pecan nut fancy? šŸ¤£
 
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pappajohn

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Aug 26, 2007
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Last edited:
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Sep 6, 2011
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With your meter on the batt posts,(not the clamps), anything over 12.2 v should be capable of cranking the starter. If it drops below 9v when trying to crank, itā€™s new battery time. The starter motor is a large enough load to test this. Modern batteries frequently fail with little warning. Bad earth problems occur further ā€˜downstreamā€™, usually the braid between the N/side inner wing and gearbox. You can test this with your multimeter. One probe on the wing earth bolt, other probe on the gearbox. Crank the engine. Your v reading should be zero with a good connection. The poorer the connection, the higher the reading.

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Apr 6, 2019
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Eye, Peterborough, UK
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Get a chunky jump lead on negative post and the other end to engine block - lifting eye if you have one. Now try key.

This will rule out your earth straps (which were crap in older vans). The earth to starter motor can be visibly ok but corroded too.
 
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Feb 22, 2016
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York
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Get a chunky jump lead on negative post and the other end to engine block - lifting eye if you have one. Now try key.

This will rule out your earth straps (which were crap in older vans). The earth to starter motor can be visibly ok but corroded too.
Following this thread with interest but donā€™t know where to find the earth strap and would also like to know what the lifting eye is and where I find this, please.
 
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Apr 6, 2019
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Following this thread with interest but donā€™t know where to find the earth strap and would also like to know what the lifting eye is and where I find this, please.
Some engines have an obvious metal loop on top but any big bolt or metal part will do for earth.

Earth straps were particularly bad on old vans - often not insulated from weather.

Screenshot_20230108-222834-710.pngScreenshot_20230108-222927.pngScreenshot_20230108-222951.png
 
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Nov 18, 2011
93
105
cheshire
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18,934
MH
coachbuilt
Exp
since 2001
As has been suggested , make sure they check both earth straps , the battery to body one and the engine/gearbox to body one as either having a poor/ high resistance connection at an end terminal could cause a similar problem to the one you have.
I think we've all been there on this one over the years , whatever vehicle , can be confusing , it only needs one cell to be deteriorating , batteries have improved over the years , trouble is they are so expensive like everything else when your drawing an aging pension .šŸ˜ŠšŸ•
 
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