Thursday, May 21, 2009

That #$%&! Battery that I Swear By

The window pane in my daughter's apartment was a tad too tight for my liking, so I thought a few drops of engine oil on strategic spots should solve the problem.  I went down to the car to fish out some from the engine with the dip-stick.

But upon opening the bonnet I was horrified by the sight of the mess my battery had done to the engine compartment.  It looked like the acid had been blowing out of the battery due to overpressure after my 400 kilometer drive from SP to KL.  This had never happened before, at least to my car, in all my years of driving. 

I don't remember ever adding any water to top up the electrolyte of this battery because the last time I checked it was still at maximum level. 

The maddening thing about the #$%&! Yokohama battery is that the walls of the plastic casing are so opague you can't view the electrolyte level at all without opening the caps and shining a torchlight into the holes.  I used to shine a torchlight behind the battery and viewed it from the front and I could see the liquid levels clearly.  It worked for my former Iswara but this Myvi has the battery completely covered by a black jacket on 3 sides.  So, no shadow-play trick this time.  But I still swear by this brand because every one of them last at least 4 years when others would have gone kaput in half that time.

This over-filling looked like the work of the service centre mechanic.  I made a mental note to talk to the supervisor the next time I send it in for servicing.  And I did.  But it seemed like there was a language barrier that prevented my message from getting into his head.  When I looked at the bill I noticed a line stating, 'check & service battery - RM2.60'.  This time I guess the barrier was in my head. I didn't say anything.

That evening when the engine was reasonably cool I decided to do a random check just in case.  Lo!  The electrolyte levels were way above the max line!  I couldn't go back to the workshop as it was already closed for the weekend.  Besides, there's nothing much they could do to rectify the problem except to drain out the excess.  This would definitely lower the specific gravity of the acid.  But, oh, it's already lowered after they added the water.  So what more damage could I do? 

I decided to drain out the excess electrolyte myself.  But first, I needed a device to measure the levels.  Let's call it a gauge.  I found a strip of white plastic.  I placed the lower end against the minimum line and marked the spot in line with the top edge of the battery.  I did the same with the maximum line.  Then I cut 2 notches in the plastic strip where the markings were.  Upper notch = Min and lower notch = Max, and we're in the acid-level checking business.

To check acid level - open the caps, lower the gauge inside slowly until the tip touches the top of the acid.  Look at where the max or min notch is.  Whichever is in line with the with the top of the hole is the level of the acid.

I made a note in my service booklet that I'd check the battery myself. 

If I could only find another service center nearby I'd have said bye-bye to these guys.

Or maybe I have to teach them how to check my battery?


  1. Hi Lian Chye,
    I was in the Motor Industry for well close to 40 years. I told my friends that nobody in KL knows how to check wheel alignment and balance tyres. They think I am talking nuts. Doesn't matter, to days trend is one of reinventing wheels.

    I must take my hat off to you in coming out with this ingenous method of ascertaining the electrolyte's level. Yeah! despite of my years of involvement.

  2. Thanks Khong. I extend my hand in a cyber handshake...hahaha
    I'm also in the motor industry as a supplier of parts, although mine is a small role. We supply instruments and gauges. Part of my job's to solve problems. So, this one came naturally. :)

  3. Don't tell me you are with Bosch or VDO

  4. Can you invent a dipstick that can measure if someone has enough brains or not? I was thinking I might need it for a project I'm about to embark on, LOL. ^_^

  5. That's already invented. Neurosurgeons use a little hammer. You just borrow that and knock on some heads. If you hear a hollow sound, reject it.

    BTW, here's something I'm really proud of hearing ever since my cradle-rocking days. It's My Mama Singing. Call that living it up!!!

  6. Hmm.. good idea. I know someone who has a hammer that she uses to get into crab shells. That might work.

    Yeah I checked out that video. Is that really your mom? She can hold a tune pertty well, hehe.

  7. That's my mom alright... Here's a clip of her some years ago getting the hang of karaoke singing. Never stop learning, she said. :D