The 10-Year Old Battery in my SVT Lightning Finally Died | What Killed It???

SID297

OWNER/ADMIN
Administrator
Joined
Mar 27, 2003
Messages
53,684
Location
Myrtle Beach, SC
The 10-Year Old Battery in my SVT Lightning Finally Died | What Killed It???
Battery_Failure_002.jpg


Your car’s battery is an often overlooked maintenance item. You typically don’t even consider replacing it until it starts giving you issues. There’s usually nothing wrong with that method of replacement requirement determination as long as you’re not getting excessive out-gassing, leakage around the posts, or you have HEUI fired Powerstroke diesel (weak batteries will kill a 6.0L FICM). I recently found myself in need of a new battery for my SVT Lightning.

First, a little back story. Over the past few months I’ve been dealing more with batteries of all types than I ever really wanted to. It’s insane the amount of batteries I’ve bought an installed various projects. Yachts, RVs, golf carts, SVTs, you name it; I’ve brought new meaning to the phrase “Slingin’ Lead”. As a side note, if anyone needs Trojan or Odyssey Batteries I’m now a dealer for them. That should give you an idea of how many I’ve bought. Just let me know what you need.

Back on topic, I recently suffered a battery failure in my 2004 F-150 Lightning. It’s not really surprising, the truck is 15 years old and this is only the second battery it’s had. This particular flavor was a Group 65 Napa Legend 75 with a build date of July 2011. It’s safe to say this thing lived its best life, and that I get my money out of my start batteries. There’s a good reason for that, I keep a battery maintainer plugged in whenever the truck isn’t on the road. That’s what has allowed the current Napa battery (made by Deka) to survive through an impressive ten years of service. It has also lead to a really interesting failure mode for that particular unit.


Here's a little look at how this battery failure mode looks in action.


One day I went out to fire the old girl up and she just wouldn’t turn over. All the lights worked, the stereo played a CD from the mid-2000s, and door chine annoyed me like always. The battery obviously no longer just didn’t have the nuts necessary to spin the Kenne Bell blown V8 over. I grabbed the volt meter to check things out and was surprised to see the old Napa battery was still putting out a respectable 12.3 volts. That voltage reading would indicate that the battery would be perfectly serviceable, but that simply wasn’t the case.

Battery_Failure_003.jpg


Even after putting a small draw on the old battery it still managed to produce 12 volts, which would seem to indicate that it is still good.

Battery_Failure_004.jpg


With just the load of a single lightbulb placed on the battery, its voltage fell to under 3 volts. It simple can't provide sufficient current any longer.


My trusty battery had simply died of old age, or in technical terms, Anodic Corrosion. To put it simply, the corrosion that naturally forms over time on the lead plates had progressed to the point that enough current could not be passed through the cells to turn over the engine. The interesting bit is that the battery was still capable of making full voltage. So if you were to test it at rest with a multi-meter it would produce around 12.3 volts. However, as soon as a load is applied to it the voltage would plummet. That’s how a well maintained battery should go out , quietly in the garage still hooked to the maintainer that help it to live to the ripe old age of ten.

I happened to have an extra Group 65 battery sitting around waiting to go into another project, so with just a few minutes work the Lightning was again ready to hit the road. That’s a temporary replacement though. I haven’t decided what battery will be the long term fix for the L. Motorcraft is always a good choice, but I’m also partial to the unit from Odyssey linked below. Any thoughts?

-SID297
 

specracer

SVTOA MCA
Premium Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2009
Messages
1,750
Location
MA
I purely come at this from a collectors stand point (so basically irrational), I personally must have a motorcraft battery. Got a car year and a half ago, didnt, so I at least peeled the stickers so it was simply black (until I got a MC). I could never have a green, red or yellow battery in one of our engine bays. Right wrong or indifferent, but thats my 2c
 

CobraBob

Authorized Vendor
Established Member
Premium Member
Single Barrel Sirs
Joined
Nov 17, 2002
Messages
101,987
Location
Cheshire, CT
Sid, your comment about plugging in your battery maintainer whenever the truck isn’t on the road is hopefully going to help others going forward. Very few vehicle owners would do that, but it makes a lot of sense if you want to keep a battery that long.

Regarding battery trickle/maintainers, what do you do when the battery is in the trunk? When it's in the engine bay you can crack the hood. You can't do that usually with a trunk lid. If you leave the trunk lid up, the lamp in the trunk will light unless you remove it. Just curious. I ran into this issue with my old '19 Genesis G70. So I chose not to trickle charge the battery over two winters.
 

specracer

SVTOA MCA
Premium Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2009
Messages
1,750
Location
MA
Regarding battery trickle/maintainers, what do you do when the battery is in the trunk? When it's in the engine bay you can crack the hood. You can't do that usually with a trunk lid.
Many cars have jump posts under the front hood (to connect jumper cables), when the battery is hidden in the back, which solves that. But for cars that dont, Ive closed the truck, and not latched it. Light was off, so car thought it was closed.
 

SID297

OWNER/ADMIN
Administrator
Joined
Mar 27, 2003
Messages
53,684
Location
Myrtle Beach, SC
I purely come at this from a collectors stand point (so basically irrational), I personally must have a motorcraft battery. Got a car year and a half ago, didnt, so I at least peeled the stickers so it was simply black (until I got a MC). I could never have a green, red or yellow battery in one of our engine bays. Right wrong or indifferent, but thats my 2c

I went with an Odyssey this time around. They weigh a ton, but they are tough to beat performance-wise.

Many cars have jump posts under the front hood (to connect jumper cables), when the battery is hidden in the back, which solves that. But for cars that dont, Ive closed the truck, and not latched it. Light was off, so car thought it was closed.

This. I forget the brand, but the last maintainer I bought had a small harness I wired in with a plug on it that stayed attached to the car. Then all you had to do was plug it into the charger when you wanted.
 

terminatd

Member
Established Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2002
Messages
506
Location
Vancouver BC Canada
My original battery on my 03 Cobra (Nov 2002) died a few months ago.. I kept it on a maintainer.

The maintainer wouldn't fully charge anymore.

Popped the caps and low fluid.. top of the fins showing on two cells.

Added distilled water to all cells and cycled a 40 amp charger and the maintainer and about a week or so later I finally got the fully charged light and it works great..

19 years on original battery and still going...
 

SID297

OWNER/ADMIN
Administrator
Joined
Mar 27, 2003
Messages
53,684
Location
Myrtle Beach, SC
My original battery on my 03 Cobra (Nov 2002) died a few months ago.. I kept it on a maintainer.

The maintainer wouldn't fully charge anymore.

Popped the caps and low fluid.. top of the fins showing on two cells.

Added distilled water to all cells and cycled a 40 amp charger and the maintainer and about a week or so later I finally got the fully charged light and it works great..

19 years on original battery and still going...

I never bothered popping the caps.
 

03cobra#694

I Have LL’s Hammer
Super Moderator
Joined
Aug 12, 2008
Messages
55,976
Location
SW FL.
My original battery on my 03 Cobra (Nov 2002) died a few months ago.. I kept it on a maintainer.

The maintainer wouldn't fully charge anymore.

Popped the caps and low fluid.. top of the fins showing on two cells.

Added distilled water to all cells and cycled a 40 amp charger and the maintainer and about a week or so later I finally got the fully charged light and it works great..

19 years on original battery and still going...
My OEM lasted 11. Lucky to get 3 years on a battery here, and man have they got expensive. Curious what the AGM will cost for my truck when it goes.
 

specracer

SVTOA MCA
Premium Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2009
Messages
1,750
Location
MA
I went with an Odyssey this time around. They weigh a ton, but they are tough to beat performance-wise.


This. I forget the brand, but the last maintainer I bought had a small harness I wired in with a plug on it that stayed attached to the car. Then all you had to do was plug it into the charger when you wanted.
Well I think you mentioned that your Lighting has a big blower on it, so Im thinkin "stock" is not that important....

The Ctek, and Deltrans I have bought have always come with a ring terminal harness and a quick connect 12" away.
 

04DeadShort

SVT Addict
Established Member
Joined
Mar 20, 2008
Messages
1,450
Location
Carrollton, GA
I run AGM batteries on all our ATV's. The seem to hold up well for that application. My 18 f150 came factory with a huge AGM battery. Probably for the start/stop feature, which I have disabled. I keep the Walmart Stanley brand 1amp trickle chargers on the Cobras and they seem to do the job well. The Motorcraft battery on our 03 is going on 9 years. I know a battery change is coming up soon. But I keep a eye on the battery fluid level so we will see.
 

CobraBob

Authorized Vendor
Established Member
Premium Member
Single Barrel Sirs
Joined
Nov 17, 2002
Messages
101,987
Location
Cheshire, CT
Many cars have jump posts under the front hood (to connect jumper cables), when the battery is hidden in the back, which solves that. But for cars that dont, Ive closed the truck, and not latched it. Light was off, so car thought it was closed.
Ah, thanks for that info, Andy. That makes sense for jump-starting purposes.
 

P49Y-CY

selfie deaths ftw
Established Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
Messages
10,919
Location
southwest
all three of my fords are like clockwork when it comes to needing batteries. the all use the same bxt-59 and they all start dying at right around 4 1/2 years.

but they're all daily driven, so it sounds like perhaps that cuts the life of the battery down by at least half of a car that isn't driven regularly.
 

2001Bullitt

Well-Known Member
Established Member
Premium Member
Party Liquor Posse
Joined
Feb 1, 2010
Messages
1,342
Location
Lowell, Massachusetts
That's another little project I picked up. More on that later.
Looks like a 5.0 explorer haha. I replaced the original battery in my 01 Bullitt back in I believe 2013. I was shocked it lasted that long. I also had it on a tender all winter when that New England weather came knocking. The 03 HD F150 I just bought looks to have a new oem battery installed, so we will see
 

SID297

OWNER/ADMIN
Administrator
Joined
Mar 27, 2003
Messages
53,684
Location
Myrtle Beach, SC
Looks like a 5.0 explorer haha. I replaced the original battery in my 01 Bullitt back in I believe 2013. I was shocked it lasted that long. I also had it on a tender all winter when that New England weather came knocking. The 03 HD F150 I just bought looks to have a new oem battery installed, so we will see

Good eye.
 

365 Saleen

Well-Known Member
Established Member
Premium Member
Joined
Jul 24, 2021
Messages
1,231
Location
Levant, Maine


The interesting bit is that the battery was still capable of making full voltage. So if you were to test it at rest with a multi-meter it would produce around 12.3 volts. However, as soon as a load is applied to it the voltage would plummet.​



-SID297
This is why when diagnosing electrical issues you never rely on a voltage reading alone. You have to put a load on the circuit to see if it is good.
I don't know how many times I have tested a circuit that has 12 volts but does not work, only to find it will not pass any current (load) to turn on whatever you are testing. This is almost always due to corrosion, this causes high resistance, which prevents the current from flowing through the circuit.
 

SID297

OWNER/ADMIN
Administrator
Joined
Mar 27, 2003
Messages
53,684
Location
Myrtle Beach, SC
This is why when diagnosing electrical issues you never rely on a voltage reading alone. You have to put a load on the circuit to see if it is good.
I don't know how many times I have tested a circuit that has 12 volts but does not work, only to find it will not pass any current (load) to turn on whatever you are testing. This is almost always due to corrosion, this causes high resistance, which prevents the current from flowing through the circuit.

Bingo.
 

Users who are viewing this thread



Top