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Old 12-15-2008, 04:32 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Kajtek1: thx ... I now have a little more visibility into the operating conditions of my "girl"
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Old 12-15-2008, 04:41 PM   #12 (permalink)
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http://autorepair.about.com/cs/doityourself/a/bljumpstart.htm

At 20f and below a battery with low level and poor charge can freeze and explode.
run the climate control diagnostics
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and up around value 21-23 or so you will run by a value that is fluctuating between 12.8 volts or so.That way you know it is the charging value.
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Old 12-16-2008, 08:02 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Remember a frozen battery could also be a "cracked" battery, allowing massive outgassing in that confined space. Add a spark from any poor connection or even static......
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Old 12-16-2008, 08:19 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Possibly....
1) Battery was frozen and cracked overnight.
2) Tried to start - frozen battery - not enough charge to start - required jump start.
3) Drove off with heater on - battery slowly thawed - started charging - started outgassing through the crack(s) in the battery case.
4) Short stop at McD - engine off.
5) Outgassing stops - but Hydrogen still contained in the battery compartment under seat.
6) Turn the key.... Load placed on battery - somewhere in there a small spark spark ignites the gas....... FLASH BANG
7) Cracked battery case exposes multiple cells to the flash......... KABLOOIE.
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Old 12-16-2008, 10:51 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I had a vokswagen , love bug, some years back and the battery was also located in the rear right passenger side, same as the benz and my overweight cousin sat there and coils touched the battery tips and caused a fire. We all got out, fast.
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Old 12-16-2008, 10:55 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Update:

A final inspection revealed what appears to be a design flaw in the OEM battery vent system. There is only 1 vent tube ... not 2! There are 2 banks of 3 cells ... the 3 RH cells were either not vented/plugged at the cover or vented to the battery compartment only. I do not have residual pieces to the right bank of cells but can find no external hole in the BII (floor) or tube for this bank of cells. The compartment could indeed fill with gas as suggested. Could any one else confirm this ???

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Old 12-16-2008, 02:35 PM   #17 (permalink)
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The batteries we have on our cars have only single venting tube. Who made the inspection?
Your incident pictures show pretty clear to me, that it was internal battery pressure, that blow up. No signs of fire and all cells equally blown -meaning there was equal pressure in all of them.
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Old 12-16-2008, 03:02 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Kajtek1:
You are right the OEM VARTA has a combined vent cover thus all 6 cells are able to vent thru a single hose on the LH side. So things are not an issue with OEM vented batteries.

I just confirmed with a MB Mechanic that ~1k ohms is normal for a battery cable shunt value ... still looking for explosion damaged wires but all appear in a good state. Plan to fire her up in the morning ... need to get the VMI out for the codes.

Thanks to you all for the guidance and help ... robert
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Old 12-16-2008, 06:56 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I'm intrigued. Please keep us informed.....this is like diagnosing a MacGyver bomb.

I'm probably out of my league here but I'm still clinging to the electrical spark (inernal or external), hydrogen gas explosion theory.

Hydrogen burns so rapidly and completly in open air that there would be very little radiant heat generated. I'm theorizing that there was no time for other material come up to combustion temperature in the small fraction of a second of the actual explosion. So nothing but hydrogen actually burned and remember the byproduct of a hydrogen fire is water so there would be no residue. Plus the fact that it was timed precisely to you turning the key to start.

But frankly, I've never even seen an exploded battery.
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Old 12-16-2008, 07:19 PM   #20 (permalink)
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My MB mechanic confirmed that low fluid level would result in plate damage with potential for shorting/sparking under cranking loads. T
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