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Cooked F40 Battery

Discussion in 'Technical Q&A' started by Steve, Jul 17, 2004.

  1. Steve

    Steve Formula Junior

    Nov 1, 2003
    901
    Seattle, WA
    Full Name:
    Steve Jenkins
    I had my F40 at a dyno shop today for a few hours doing a sound recording session for an upcoming Xbox video game. It was REALLY hot in Seattle today, and we had to keep squirting water on the radiator to help keep the water temp in the safe range between runs. The water temp warning light only came on once all day, but it got near 250 degrees a few times, so we'd cool things off to 200 before proceeding again.

    On the way home, about 7 miles from my house, while parked at a stoplight waiting for it to turn green, the car went dead. I mean DEAD. Engine shut off, no electrical power, nothing. Luckily, I had Dan Spalding in his 360 Modena behind me, and he and two onlookers pushed it into the nearby 7-11 parking lot. First time in 8 years of Ferrari ownership that I've EVER been stranded by the side of the road. SIGH. Sad to see such a streak end.

    I called AAA (if you are a Ferrari owner and don't have AAA, you need your head examined) and they dispatched a flatbed. They promised the truck would be there in less than 60 minutes. Dan and I went into 7-11 for some Slurpees and chili dogs while we waited. The truck arrived about 15 mins later.

    The truck was brand new, and driven by the owner/operator of the tow company. This was obviously not his first low car. He was a full on pro. The only snag was that I had left the tow eye at home, but Dan drove the short distance to my house and back to fetch it. When we returned, the tow driver had wooden ramps, 2x4s, and the cable all ready for us. It was a short, safe, and uneventful trip onto the back of the truck, along the highway to my house, and a gentle roll down into my driveway. He even helped us push it into my garage. Even though AAA was paying the bill, this guy was such a pro that he certainly deserved the $20 tip.

    I yanked the battery, and noticed that the silver pipes coming from and to the radiator wrap around RIGHT next to the battery. When I pulled the battery, I noticed acid had leaked out of both caps. Battery was literally FRIED by the heat buildup. Everything else seems normal, and I suspect that a new battery on Monday morning will fix everything. I'm confident it will, but keep your collective fingers crossed for me just in case. :)

    Thank you Dan, thank you AAA, and thank you Maple Valley Towing!
     
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  3. Darolls

    Darolls F1 Veteran
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    Jul 2, 2003
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    Steve-

    In over 30 yrs. of Ferrari ownership, I've only had to have 2 F-cars towed.

    Thats gotta be some kind of record!! :)

    To be on the safe side, have the charging system checked. It's possible the alternator has started taking steroids and overcharged the battery.

    BTDTHTTS on a 40!
     
  4. f355spider

    f355spider F1 World Champ
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    May 29, 2001
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    Steve....15 minutes?! That is pretty amazing speed. I have called AAA only once, and after 45 minutes (to change a tire in the rain in Kennewick 6 years ago), I gave up and changed it myself (didn't want to get wet or hands dirty). Took all of ten minutes, and I was on my way, and they STILL hadn't shown up....I still called them to tell the guy to turn around (or not get up out of his barcolounger....).

    You know the drill....get an Optima...and you will never have to worry about leaks or spills again. As "Darolls" mentioned, wouldn't hurt to have the alternator output checked...I have the special Griot's tester, and can bring it to Kirkland on Monday afternoon; you can connect it up, and know if 5 seconds if all is well. What time we meeting? 2:30pm sound okay?

    Dave
     
  5. Steve

    Steve Formula Junior

    Nov 1, 2003
    901
    Seattle, WA
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    Steve Jenkins
    Dave:

    Thanks - that would be great. Although, whether or not I can bring the car depends on if the battery fixes things as I predict. If yes, then I will be at Kirkland... but I haven't decided what time yet (have to juggle schedule). I'll email the local list this afternoon.
     
  6. atheyg

    atheyg Guest

    Classic symptom of bad alternator overcharging your battery, probably why it was overheating on the dyno from the extra drag of the bad alternator.
     
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  8. cmparrenzo

    cmparrenzo F1 Rookie
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    Mar 3, 2002
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    Steve I run an Optima battery in my F40, so I don't have to worry about the water/acid issue.

    The consequence of running an Optima means that your Battery cover will not fit. That is not an issue for me as I never put anything in the cargo area, plus I think it looks cool and probably is cooler for the battery as it allows heat to escape....

    Chris
     
  9. f355spider

    f355spider F1 World Champ
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    Any of you guys use one of these? Looks to be the ticket in hot enviroments:
    http://www.racecarsupply.com/html/batterywrap.html

    Dave
     
  10. enjoythemusic

    enjoythemusic F1 World Champ

    Apr 20, 2002
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    Steven
  11. Steve

    Steve Formula Junior

    Nov 1, 2003
    901
    Seattle, WA
    Full Name:
    Steve Jenkins
    Any easy way to check the alternator? Is the regulator built into the alternator? I put in a new battery just now, and it fired right up. I'm reading 14 volts at the battery posts when running, and 12 volts when the car is off. Should the voltage at the posts drop down to 13 or 12 when a properly working alternator senses that the battery is fully charged?
     
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  13. Ken

    Ken F1 World Champ

    Oct 19, 2001
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    The two times I needed AAA they also arrived a lot quicker than promised. I like that about them!

    You need a heat shield (duh); I'm surprised Ferrari makes a car designed to race like an F 40 and left the battery exposed to heat like that! F 40's are popular track cars; I'm surprised this isn't a common issue. Well, an F 40 is a pretty uncommon car huh!!

    Ken
     
  14. thecarreaper

    thecarreaper F1 World Champ
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    Sep 30, 2003
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    just a 308 guy but the norm for serviceable batteries is a minimun of 12.5 volts cold, around 14v if it needs a charge, but the meter should show the alternator tapering off to around 13.6 to 13.8 as the battery is fully charged. i do not know if a F40 is any different, i am speaking from on hand experience with the many cars i have had. by the way i worship the F40 !!!! best, michael
     
  15. atheyg

    atheyg Guest


    14s a little excessive especially with a new fully charged battery, typically you'll get around 13 when running. The real giveaway is if your battery dies you car would still run off the alternator, even if you disconnected the battery so your car shouldn't have died.

    Also is the 14 at idle if so what happens when you increase revs?

    Concerning the regulator they usually are built in to the alternator on modern cars, don't know for sure on a F40.
     
  16. Steve

    Steve Formula Junior

    Nov 1, 2003
    901
    Seattle, WA
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    Steve Jenkins
    What would have caused the car to just DIE then? Battery shorted out by a bad alternator? Any chance that JUST the battery was affected by the heat and went bad?
     
  17. atheyg

    atheyg Guest


    With the bad alternator the car was just running off the battery until it drained it completely and it died. Which is why it started right up again with the new battery and it will run till it drains that one down.

    Typically your alternator will overcharge your battery cooking it and causing it to expand and bow out when going bad.Your battery was probably fine but your bad alternator killed it.

    Yes the heat could have caused damage to the battery but the car would still run but would not start of course from the dead battery.

    I am just making a guestimate based on what you described happened I could be wrong as their could be other issues with the system but if it was just a bad battery you car should still run.
     
  18. Steve

    Steve Formula Junior

    Nov 1, 2003
    901
    Seattle, WA
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    Steve Jenkins
    How do I test that the alternator is functioning properly? Where is it located on this car? Being belt-driving, I'm assuming it will be visible if I remove the passenger seat and firewall, but once I'm in there, how do I troubleshoot?
     
  19. atheyg

    atheyg Guest

    Steve,

    I don't think getting to the alternator is the issue, to properly test it remove from the car and take to a alternator shop where they can bench test it. A rebuild shouldn't be more than $200 anyway.

    I don't know if Ferrari did anything trick on a F40 but most every car you can test your alternator by removing the positive connection to the battery if the car dies your alternator is bad, but on some cars you can damage your alternator by doing this, anyway the car will run if the alternator is working properly.

    Typically you can tell by testing the battery with a hand held voltometer on the battery checking the current while the car is running and have someone rev the engine also to see if you are getting more than 14volts if so your alt is bad.
     
  20. Steve

    Steve Formula Junior

    Nov 1, 2003
    901
    Seattle, WA
    Full Name:
    Steve Jenkins
    My wife agreed to help me in the garage.

    Digital Fluke Multimeter reads:

    12V at battery posts when car is off
    14V when car is idling
    14V when car is revved, all the way up to 4K RPM

    Should I still suspect the alternator?
     
  21. zsnnf

    zsnnf Formula 3

    Sep 11, 2003
    1,877
    Chris,
    I have an Optima in mine and the cover fits. What model do you have?


    Steve,
    Those #'s look good to me. The alt. is behind the driver. It is easy to remove. Take out the seat and the panel.
    I don't understand why it wouldn't keep running off of the alternator. It should.
    I would remove the Alt. and have it checked/rebuilt by a good local Alt/generator shop. It uses heavy duty Delco parts. Mine cost $80 for a complete rebuild.

    Rick
     
  22. atheyg

    atheyg Guest

    I get about 13.6 V when running on a normal charged battery.

    At 14v if the battery is new and fully charged I would be suspect on your alt it's overchargeing, but if the battery is low its charging a little much IMO but still may be okay.
     
  23. Steve

    Steve Formula Junior

    Nov 1, 2003
    901
    Seattle, WA
    Full Name:
    Steve Jenkins
    I first bought an Optima Red today and it wouldn't fit (I roll with the Schedoni luggage sometimes, so I need the cover on...). Settled for an Autocraft (it was the only thing they had that would fit and it has a 2 year warranty...).

    I think I will yank the alternator and take it in to my local auto parts store for bench testing. Never done that before, but now's as good a time as any to try! $80 sounds like a bargain for some peace of mind. :)
     
  24. jselevan

    jselevan Formula 3
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    Nov 2, 2003
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    Steve - I would not pull the alternator just yet. The numbers you present are appropriate. You used a Flute digital - were you right on 14 volts, or was it 13.6 to 14.0?

    How old is the battery? (You may have offered this information, but I did not see it in my cursory review). Batterys fail. When they do, the bus voltage will drop. The alternator will try to charge the battery to raise voltage. Thus, it appears that the regulator is functioning appropriately, and likely the alternator as well. I would first replace the battery and see what happens.

    What is the voltage across the battery at idle? It should be around 12 volts. With RPM above 1,500 or so, the voltage should rise to the 13.6 range.

    Yes, the car will die if the battery has a dead cell (or two). Once the voltage drops below a threshold, the electronic ignition and brain will shut down. The voltage will drop, despite a functioning alternator, as the dead cell may appear as a short in the battery, effectively removing resistance and decreasing voltage produced by the alternator pumping current through the battery during charging.

    The first simple step is to replace the battery. If the car starts up, enjoy the drive. Pay close attention to the fluid in the battery, for if the alternator is over charging (a regulator issue, not an alternator issue) you will lose fluid sooner than would be expected.

    Is the regulator built into the alternator? If it is a separate unit, then this would be the second step. An alternator pumping out 14 volts is doing exactly what Ohm, Voltaire, and others predicted it should. Give it a break! It's trying hard. It is the regulator that is flogging it to kill the battery.

    Have fun.

    Jim S.
     
  25. Darolls

    Darolls F1 Veteran
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    Jul 2, 2003
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    Yes Steve, the figures look good. At 2000 RPM, the alt. should put out a max. of about 15V.

    No need to pull the alt. for testing; take the car to a shop that has a load tester for battery, starter/charging system.

    Most auto repair shops have the equipment.

    There's nothing unique about the F40 system, so any shop should be able to test it.
     
  26. zsnnf

    zsnnf Formula 3

    Sep 11, 2003
    1,877
    Don't take it to an auto parts store. Take it to a place that specializes in auto electric. I took mine to Costa Mesa generator. That is the kind of place you are looking for. They can replace any bad or weak parts in the unit. An auto parts place will only be able to sell you a new or rebuilt one. The case for the F40 is Ferrari specific. It is the same as a 348. A new or rebuilt will run upwards of $700.
     
  27. Steve

    Steve Formula Junior

    Nov 1, 2003
    901
    Seattle, WA
    Full Name:
    Steve Jenkins
    Update:

    I drove the car (with new battery) to the local auto parts store where I know the guys well. They connected a charging system diagnostic tool to the posts, had me start the car and turn on some accessories (lights and A/C) and got the following result:

    BATTERY
    Rated CCA=550
    Open Ckt. Volts = 12.81
    Good Battery

    CRANKING
    Cranking Volts = 10.51
    Normal

    CHARGING
    Charging Volts = 14.12
    Regulator Volts = 14.22
    Diodes Good
    Charging System Good

    Does that confirm that my old dead battery was the cause of my problems? Or should I yank the alternator and take it to an alternator shop to have it bench tested?
     
  28. jselevan

    jselevan Formula 3
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    Nov 2, 2003
    1,854
    Do not extract the alternator. Your numbers are good. Everything seems to be working as designed. Enjoy the drive.

    If it ain't broken, don't fix it. If the problem recurs, then start a new diagnostic investigation.

    Jim S.
     

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