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New Battery, New Alternator = Dead Battery

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Old 11-27-2018, 10:23 AM
rkj__
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New Battery, New Alternator = Dead Battery

About 7 weeks ago, after the 2012 Countryman All4 S was sitting untouched for 2 weeks, it started, but gave the battery light on the dash. I took it for a bit of a drive. Stopped to get gas. Battery light was still coming on. When pulling into my neighborhood, the car went haywire. It lost power steering, and gave every warning it could. At this point, the car would not even idle smooth. Clearly the battery was dead, and the alternator was not giving enough power to let the car function properly. So, I had the battery, alternator, and belt replaced.

Lately, the car is mostly only used for my wife's 10 minute commute. Is there any chance that duty cycle is insufficient to charge the battery?

Fast forward to last night, the car would not start. The battery was dead. After boosting it, the car ran fine.

I'm no electrical wizard, just a dummy with a cheap multi-meter. At idle, I only read 11.25V across the battery terminals. I let it idle for a half hour, but I don't think that will re-charge the battery.

Where do I go from here?

It will likely end up back at the shop that did the recent replacements, but do any of you wizards have any advice?

Edit. Somebody on another forum suggested it could possibly be an issue with the new battery not being registered with the IBS. I'm not sure if the mechanic did this or not. I've never heard of such a system. It sounds like a good example of over-engineering. A little more searching shows that some Mini owners have skipped the registration without consequence. So, I'm not really sure what to think at this moment.

Edit 2: On quick inspection, I did not see an IBS module on the negative battery terminal connection, so I’m not sure if this car has that system or not.

After work, I boosted the car again, and drove for 20 minutes, let it idle for 20 minutes, then drove another 20 minutes. I then got home, let it idle for maybe three minutes, and plugged in my battery checker.

It was showing voltages in the high 10s. That was concerning. I then took if for a drive around the block, and it was showing a pretty steady 13.9V, which is good.

That’s all a little confusing.

I picked up a charger from my dad, and will charge it overnight, and see where things go.

Edit 3: After charging overnight, then sitting off of the charger for 4 hours, the battery read a healthy value of well over 12.6V, and started up normally. I'll continue to monitor it over the next days / weeks.

Since I've got no feedback to this post at all, I may or may not continue to check / update this thread.
 

Last edited by rkj__; 11-28-2018 at 10:27 AM.
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eric.stewart (03-18-2019)
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Old 12-31-2018, 02:52 PM
P3 INIW
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On the alternator is a small cable with a plug on the end of it. Basically I think the wire is used by the computer to tell the Alternator to charge or not. I was having problems similar to what your describing. An interesting thing I discovered in some literature about the alternator is that if the communication wire with the small plug becomes disconnected then the alternator goes into a sort of default mode which of all things lets it act like an.... alternator.

I disconnected the small plug and it has worked ever since... sure there is probably some risk of overcharging the battery but so far no problems noted and voltages always look fine.
 
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Old 03-18-2019, 07:56 AM
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UPDATE

I had settled on the idea that perhaps it was just all the short trips that were not allowing the battery to fully charge.

So, I bought an external charger, and planned to simply use it to charge the battery every weekend. Things went fine for another few months, but then the car would not start on a Thursday.

What I noticed by driving around with a volt meter, was that the alternator would charge intermittently. For many trips, the car would start, then the voltage would drop, drop, and drop, then the alternator would finally kick in, and show charging voltages around 14V. So, on many short trips, the alternator would only charge for a couple minutes of the trip, if at all. On some trips, everything was fine though, with charging voltages the whole time.

I eventually took the car back to the mechanic that replaced the alternator. He could not replicate the problem when he had the car. He did confirm that the new battery was "registered" when installed.

At this point, I was frustrated, and considered dumping the car. Unfortunately, it did not look like I could get into anything decent, without paying a fair bit out of pocket. So I continued to try and get the issue troubleshooted. I booked it in at the BMW dealership, in hopes of them reproducing and diagnosing the problem. After the first day, they called me, and said they could not find a problem. I had a fairly long conversation with the service advisor, and he agreed to put one of their better guys on it. After a few days of being without the car, finally, they were able to give me the conclusion that the alternator was charging inconsistently.

So, with the invoice from the BMW dealer for the diagnostics, I went back to the mechanic that replaced the alternator. He agreed to replace the apparently faulty alternator for no cost to me.

We've had the car back with its 3rd alternator now for about 4 days, and it seems to hit around 14V whenever the car is running, so things are looking good, finally. It's been months of frustrations, but I'm cautiously optimistic that this one may finally be solved.
 
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Boxsternaut (03-18-2019), eric.stewart (03-18-2019), mikey_t (03-18-2019)
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Old 03-18-2019, 02:37 PM
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eric.stewart
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Wow! Thanks for posting back with a solution. Seems like a lot of people post, asking for advice when they have problems (which is natural) then you never hear what the resolution was! Your post, with all the detail in it is likely to help someone else.

On a related note, my new-to-me '11 Cooper S Countryman All4 had its battery replaced by the selling dealership and it turned out that the replacement was defective! As Sherlock Holmes said, "Once you have eliminated the possible...."
 
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Old 03-18-2019, 02:55 PM
dmath
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Great work staying with it and pressing for a solution. Fingers crossed that it stays fixed this time.
 
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Old 03-18-2019, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by eric.stewart View Post
Wow! Thanks for posting back with a solution. Seems like a lot of people post, asking for advice when they have problems (which is natural) then you never hear what the resolution was! Your post, with all the detail in it is likely to help someone else.
Exactly. It's about the journey as much as the destination in a case like this and it'll certainly will help someone sometime. Thank you rkj!
 
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