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Old 12-15-2008, 01:09 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Exploding Battery

I have just had my Florida 01 E320 4M Wagon battery explode on me while on a winter visit to Guelph Canada (+10F). Unlike me, I suggest a frequent check on the electrolyte levels .... The quarter pounder tasted a little off not to mention the ringing in my ears ... this occurred after a 2 hr road trip in +10>+20F temperatures and a stop at Macdonalds. The key was just engaging the starter when the battery blew.

I had a Rear Brake light error display at least once a day for the previous week but when verified all lights were working. When the temp dipped below +10F the starter would not crank but easily started with a jump.

Cranking speed was normal and all electrical elements were functional aside from the spurious malfunction codes. I had a compete star diagnostic done with now anomalies done 4weeks before but not in a freezing environment.

Vent was clear and there was insufficient electrolyte in the battery compartment so I can only assume that low levels were the culprit. All fuses appear in good order.

I am trying to track down and eliminate a potential short but would appreciate any additional guidance before installing the replacement and possibly ruining another quarter pounder ...
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Old 12-15-2008, 01:22 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Umm. wow?!!! You were in the car when it happened? Damn. Did the rear seat contain the explosion underneith? That would prevent acid/shrapnel from flying about.
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Old 12-15-2008, 01:30 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Battery

froze.Low battery in those conditions will freeze an a jump will arc and cause explosive gas to trigger the explosion.Never jump or charge a frozen battery
a regular heating pad wrapped around it on low setting will prevent freezing.I hope the electrolyte did not ruin the fuse ox or the pse.

not a pretty picture
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Old 12-15-2008, 01:36 PM   #4 (permalink)
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yes I was in the car at the time ... seat cushion was unmoved all fragments were contained within the compartment (nice to have had the foam cover over the air pump).

My first thoughts were of a backfire but when I saw the vapour coming out form the cushion I realized what had happened ... baking soda was my first order of business. everything is clean now but I am still nervous about the hookup I will try and trace the looms as far as I can.

An interesting item to note is that the instrument cluster and the interior lights were still functioning as the battery finally gave out.
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Old 12-15-2008, 01:41 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Funny thing was the car and I assume battery were still warm (2 hr drive no indication of problems) ... I had turned the car off only 10 min earlier ...

I am seriously hoping that the regulator is not involved in the issue and that a straight "field" replacement of the battery will get me the 60 miles to the nearest dealer ...
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Old 12-15-2008, 02:42 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Haven't heard about frozen battery exploding. Even if there is explosive gas in dry cells and even if there is a spark -it still needs oxygen mixture to blow.
Than I've seen batteries exploding because of overcharging on several occasions. When you overcharge the battery -it "boils" releasing lot of gas. With caps restricting the flow -the pressure builds up.
From the picture looks like all the cells blow up at the same time.
Did you had it taken to Fire Department? They might want to hear about it.
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Old 12-15-2008, 02:56 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Kajtek1: I did not consider the event critical enough for the Fire department as the gas dissipated quickly once I had opened the doors ... I was concerned about loom damage and struggled to get the neg post disconnected quickly.

My most urgent concern is if I can put the failure down to low electrolyte levels and if so why was there no overcharge warning? This is troubling as the vent tube to the outside of the compartment was clear of obstructions.

I would like to eliminate all non-battery issues as soon as possible to get back on the road, so any thoughts/guidance are welcome.
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Old 12-15-2008, 03:07 PM   #8 (permalink)
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You know you can display the car voltage on clima display? I would observe that pretty closely.
Fire Department might give you more scientific explanation. To my knowledge it is possible that with low acid level the starting current boiled the remaining acid in short time, but I am not expert in the field.
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Old 12-15-2008, 03:28 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Kajtek1:
I did not know about the Clima/Voltage display option ... how is this activated?

thx,
robert
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Old 12-15-2008, 04:24 PM   #10 (permalink)
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hold the "rest" button for few second till the sensors mode appears. There is topic explaining meaning of each sensor number
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