Auto batteries

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I went shopping for an auto battery this week and noticed that all of them once again have removerable caps for inspecting and adding distilled water when required.
That is the way the batteries used to be many years ago, but then they changed to "fill-less" batteries some time in the past. The fill-less batts didn't have removal caps to add water. Now we are back to the fillable batts.
What caused the change back? Anyone know?
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On Friday, December 19, 2014 7:38:46 AM UTC-5, CRNG wrote:

things happen that accidently overcharge batteries, this boils them dry. the caps add just pennies to the costs and allow the addition of water when necessary, plus access to check for say a bad cell with a hydrometer.....
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That sounds good. I should have mentioned that I never liked the "fill-less" design for the very reasons you mention: can't inspect and can't add water. I'm glad the manufacturers developed some common sense.
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My guess is that the battery industry finally figured out something that was obvious to me thirty years ago, when these abominations were first introduced: that there is no such thing as a "maintenance-free" battery -- only maintenance-PROOF.
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Even during the time you mention, I think they still sold batteries with removable caps. (I think I had them.) They made the caps for 3 cells at a time, very low and sleek and they looked like they were not removeable (except for a v. small slot in one spot to pry it off. Maybe these were the cheaper batteries.
About the ones without caps, they were selling the notion of maintenance free, that one never had to think about them, but after what you say, I think that wasn't true and too many people found they still did have to think about them, at least sometimes, and pretending you didn't just made things worse. They complained they couldn't check or service a not-so-old battery. And the next time they bought a battery with caps, and sales of that kind went up.
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On 12/19/2014 09:48 AM, micky wrote:

I replaced the original battery in our '02 Chrysler 300M after about seven years only because winter was approaching and I didn't want us to get stuck somewhere without enough oomph to start the engine; there was no indication that the battery was in fact failing.
This was a maintenance-free (sealed) battery, and even if it hadn't been, there was no way to check the electrolyte level anyway, as the battery is housed just behind the passenger-side front wheel and is replaceable by removing that wheel and an access panel in the wheel arch -- which explains why there are fine-print exemptions in the "Free Installation" ads.
No sign of problems with that replacement maintenance-free battery after five years or more.
Perce
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Many Buicks (and Cadillacs) have their MF Delco battery under the rear seat (it's vented outside). The '01 battery I had was replaced in '12...I never had one last longer than 7 yrs before!
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On 12/19/2014 9:32 AM, bob_villa wrote:

I'm guessing there are a lot of other vehicles that way, too, any more as they make stuff smaller and smaller and run out of room anywhere else...
A few years ago, wife was with her mother in hospital and had folks' LeSabre we had inherited when came back to the farm and the battery started to go bad in it. Hadn't come across that and took finally having to look it up to find out where the heck it was to replace it for her...pit(proverbial)a(ppendage), it is. But, not as bad as the Chrysler 300M and some other Chrysler/Dodge at the bottom of the right front fender well only accessible from a panel inside the wheel well. Generally have to remove the tire to get to and impossible to check routinely...
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I didn't know there was a problem. None of the batteries I've purchased have ever lacked removable fill caps.
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and the Yuasu batteries that came as OEM in Toyotas back in the '80s were excellent as well..Last Megatron I bought was about 5 years ago. Never had any luck with AC Delco or Hitachi OEM or replacement batteries. Crown is another high quality battery supplier you don't hear much about -their batteries last. Particularly their deep cycle and marine stuff.
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On Fri, 19 Dec 2014 16:00:58 -0500, "Percival P. Cassidy"

quality wize. Their good stuff is good, and their cheap stuff is JUNK. Just because JCI makes the battery doesn't mean it's the same as another brand made by JCI. Just like MTD. YardMaster and Cub Cadet and Troybuilt are all built by MTD. You couldn't give me a YardMaster. Chevrolet Division of General motors made the vega and the corvette at the same time. Totally different cars.
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Maintance free had a differen design and do not vent or require addional water. They were goo until they werrent and the only way to know was a bench test.
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On Fri, 19 Dec 2014 10:20:00 -0500, "Percival P. Cassidy"

I'm not saying that none of them work as promised, just that some didn't and if it is true what he says that they are hard to get now, that means "too many" didn't. How much is too many? Maybe only 10 or 20 %. I'm no marketer, but I know they very often chase after a winner, for all kinds of products. It might take only a 10 or 20% decrease in sales with a matching increase in sales of batteries with caps, for them tto predict a trend and want to catch the wave, if they think it will be a wave, and switch a lot of production to capped.
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I'm told there is some town in China that makes 80, or maybe it was 90% of the world's ties, including fancy Italian ties.
Not sure if it's true.
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half it's life every time it was discharged below about 40% DOD. Leave the lights on twice and the battery life dropped to about 6 months.
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On Friday, December 19, 2014 3:23:11 PM UTC-7, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

Never had any luck with Delco batteries...will never buy them again. Don't know who makes Chryco but their batteries are crap as well. ===
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I think the original question in this thread was: "Why are new batteries no longer "maintenance free".
I agree with the other people in here that stated that supposedly "maintenance free" car batteries still had removable caps by which they could be maintained. I was at my local battery shop once having a battery I had purchased from a local auto wrecker tested. I wanted to make sure the battery was in good condition while the sales person at the auto wrecker would still remember me if it wasn't in good shape. Anyhow, I thought what I had was a totally maintenance free battery because I could see no way of opening it in any way, but the guy at the battery shop prised two plastic covers off of it that I would have sworn were part of the battery case.
In one of the battery web sites I linked to in the thread that asked the question "What happens when you recharge a battery" they said that as a battery recharges and the soft sulfate coating on the lead plates disappears, there's hydrogen atoms produced at one plate and oxygen atoms produced at the other in a process very similar to the electrolysis of water. That web page said that so called "maintenance free" batteries simply had more water added when they were manufactured to allow for the amount of water lost from the battery during it's life.
But, I couldn't imagine how water could be lost through the plastic case, but I can easily imagine how hydrogen gas could be lost through the plastic case, and if hydrogen is lost, then you lose water, even if you have excess oxygen gas in the case.
In one of my corrosion classes years ago in mechanical engineering, we learned about a process called "hydrogen blistering" where pipes carrying hydrogen gas, natural gas (methane) and even just water, will in fact form hydrogen bubbles right in the steel wall of the pipe. These bubbles are full of hydrogen gas. In chemicals like hydrogen GAS, or methane or even water, the molecules are breaking apart and reforming all of the time. When those molecules come apart, sometimes hydrogen atoms end up migrating into the steel wall of the pipe carrying those fluids. Then, the hydrogen atoms will often find a tiny void around an inclusion or imperfection inside the wall of the steel pipe, and those hydrogen atoms were form hydrogen gas when they bond to another hydrogen atom, greatly increasing the effective volume those two atoms occupy. As the hydrogen atoms accumulate at these inclusions and form hydrogen gas, you get bubbles of tremendous pressure that actually cause blisters to form in the wall of the steel pipe. The only repair is to replace the damaged pipe.
'Different Types of Corrosion: Hydrogen Blistering -Causes and Prevention. WebCorr Corrosion Consulting Services, Corrosion Short Courses and Corrosion Expert Witness. corrosion types, corrosion forms, pipe corrosion, generalized corrosion, pitting co' (http://tinyurl.com/m5dh48y )
And, I'm thinking that if hydrogen atoms can migrate through the steel wall of a pipe carrying hydrogen, methane or water, they'd have no problem passing through a plastic battery case. And, of course, if you lost too many hydrogen atoms from the battery case, that battery would be running out of water.
Perhaps the new batteries have caps on the cells simply because they were finding that the old "maintenance free" batteries were dying due to lack of water simply because the hydrogen gas produced in the battery upon recharging was being lost as a result of it seeping right through the plastic?
It's only a guess, but it's my best guess.
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On 12/20/2014 12:22 AM, nestork wrote:

<snipped for brevity>
Since I was in the battery field I can answer your question.
A standard lead-acid battery is actually a lead-antimony alloy. The antimony is needed to give the plates hardness and strength.
A "maintenance-free car battery is a lead-calcium battery. The advantage is that such batteries use considerably less water during charging and would not be depleted over the battery's expected life time. The disadvantage of a lead-calcium battery is that they cannot tolerate a deep discharge. They could not be used in marine applications in the case of a trolling motor or in a car, if they were "run dead" just a few times, they'd have a very short life.
As to water loss in a battery, it's simply through electrolysis and batteries do need to be vented.The batteries you saw more than likely had vents somewhere though that might not have been obvious.
There are some types of batteries that are not vented per-se.
Rather than me keep writing, just Google "recombinant" battery or "valve-regulated" lead acid.
The battery has a vent which would only be used in the event of an over-charge.
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On 12/20/2014 1:22 AM, nestork wrote:

Here's my guess:
An engineer working for UltraMegaJoule Battery Corp invented a battery that requires 51% less maintenance.
The marketing people rounded 51% to 100% and the maintenance-free battery was born.
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snip
Very informative. Thanks.
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