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  1. #1
    Craig in Canada
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    Correct battery group sizes?

    I know that the Interstate MTP-93 fits, but I'm not 100% certain that this definitively means it is group 93. I've also read that not everyone makes a group 93 battery but if you can find a 750-850CCA group 49 battery it should work fine too.

    Any advice on this?

    Why I'm asking:

    I noticed on one trip to the gym last week that I thought the starter was cranking slow. Today I definitely noticed it, shut down in the driveway and pulled up the cluster voltage. With the ignition full on (ie. all the heaters, sensors, computers, DRLs powered) I was dropping into the 11s towards the 10s (it usually holds in high 11s with this load). When I cranked instead of seeing the usual spike into the 9s (when cold) the cluster went blank but it started and I saw 6.7V briefly when it came back on. Running voltage is 13.9-14.0 as soon as the alt kicked in.

    Since the holidays it's been a lot of fairly short trips and I haven't been using my desulfating battery tender. I did pull the battery out of the car in Nov and check the electrolyte level and use a hydrometer to check the specific gravity. I was surprised to find my 5 year old battery showing 100% on the hydrometer - my factory battery at the same age showed 50%-75% and died (with the typical sulfation caused single cell short-circuit leading to a battery voltage of 10.4V) several months later.

    Anyways, after driving for about 15mins on an errand with almost nothing optional turned on (have no choice about mirror heat, nozzle heat and drls) at shutdown the voltage stayed in the 13s and falling. On restart it dipped to the 10s and recovered to 13.9 when the alternator came online. I had about 15m more driving before arriving home. I put the battery on my 10A fast charger and it drew about 5A. In only 15min it was drawing significantly less and terminal voltage was up to 14.5. I switched to my battery tender since I don't want to puke acid all over my trunk by overcharging.

    I'm thinking:

    1/ Yes, I've been driving short trips, but some longer trips too

    2/ Considering the depth of the voltage dips when starting, it should have charged longer and drawn the full 10A from my charger. Perhaps it's "worn out" but more evenly than I've killed a battery before.

    3/ My hydrometer said it was still in great condition, but @#*(& happens I guess.

    4/ Of course I don't know what rate the alternator was charging at while I was out. It is a 140A alternator. But, in that case, the short trips my wife has been making are similar and should have kept the battery topped up if my short trip was able to provide a significant recovery.

    5/ I don't think I have the single failed cell death since 10.4 was not something I saw while testing and it recovered OK on the errand drive.

    6/ Hopefully it's just low from short drives and high electrical load in the winter. It's not really cold right now (-6.5C) so that should not be a factor.


    So, I want to start choosing a replacement and watch it closely for a week. I've read that JCI (Johnson Controls) is where it's at right now and I'd like to see if I can get a battery at Costco since the price and warranty can't be beat and the Kirklands are JCI last I checked. I'm pretty skeptical that they'll have vented Euro-size batteries but you never know and I'd like to have some equivalent group numbers on hand when I go. My Interstate still has some pro-rated warranty left but it would need to fail a load test removed from the car and that's a bit of a PITA with only one car just to get 10% off or something. I'll look into that too, though.

    I'm happy with the performance of my Interstates but I'm not happy with their ability to keep electrolyte on the inside. My first (bought 2003) puked acid all over my trunk. Maybe from charging with the plug in charger, maybe from something else. My replacement for that one (free) will still show little droplets on the battery that aren't in one concentrated spot and any time I check my alternator is not overcharging. I've read similar comments online about Interstate MTPs so I don't think it's just me. Of course I think Interstate might also be JCI so....

    I had heard good things about Deka 10 years ago - nothing but bad stories now. Exide seems to have a bad rep for rapid cell short failure and leaking too. I'm not going to put an Optima in there with spit and bailing wire. The dealer batteries are just too expensive. There's only so many people who actually make batteries...


  2. #2
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    Yes | No

    The E39 takes a Group 49 battery, s/b 850 CCA>>

    My local old-fashioned auto parts store used to carry Delco batteries. They now carry Deka, as a result of bad experiences with Delcos.

    I havew a Deka starting battery in my E450-based RV. So far, so good. After a month of storage, it doesn't take much to top up the charge.

    If your battery charging current dropped so fast, I'd say it was in good condition. If a battery is sulfated, you can charge the Hell out of it, and the SG won't budge.

    It may just be the short trips.

    If the battery voltage after setting overnight is 12.5+, I'd say it's OK.
    Ed in San Jose. BMW CCA member since 1987 (Nr. 62319). Golden Gate Chapter. '97 540i 6 speed. Build Date 3/97. Aspensilber over Aubergine leather.

  3. #3
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    Yes | No

    Charge it over night and then do a load test (m)

    I bought a NAPA for both the 540 and the V70. Don't know who actually makes them but both had the vent in the correct location and there are no leaks from them.
    The 540 battery says NAPA Legends75 International, 900CCA @ 0F
    Got it Oct '08 for $131

  4. #4
    Craig in Canada
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    Re: The E39 takes a Group 49 battery, s/b 850 CCA>>

    Hmm, group 49? Google found me a chart somewhere of all of the groups and dimensions. I'll have to compare 49 to 93 just for academic interest - not that I don't believe you. I've seen group 49 mentioned for a lot of Euro cars. Maybe that increases my chances of finding one at Costco.

    I guess my concern about it charging so "quickly" is this:

    If we assume the battery is in new condition, it's a 110Ah battery. I know it doesn't work this way because of inefficiencies, surface charge effects etc... but in simple theory that means a fully dead MTP-93 should take 110h to charge at 1A, or 11h to charge at 10A. [email protected]=1.25Ah which is a LOT less than 11h even taking into account lower temperature, reduction of charge capacity due to age, and the fact that it was not at 0% state-of-charge.

    It's been on my maintenance charger which has a charge rate of around 1-2A since I made my first post. I don't know exactly the cutoff voltage, I think it's below 14V, but it will do a better job of getting the battery to 100% without overcharging/venting because it's slower. My 10A charger is old (like 25 years maybe?) and has no fancy electronics - it's a bit of a brute force charge.

    I still have my fingers crossed but want to start looking at options just in case I need to pull the trigger.

    Thx,

  5. #5
    mlane
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    Yes | No

    Canadian Tire has worked for my 2001 540iT(m)

    I paid about $110 last year and the fit is perfect, including the vent. I'm away from home at the moment, so I can't give you the part number until tomorrow.

    Regards,
    Mark (Burnaby)

  6. #6
    Craig in Canada
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    Yes | No

    UPDATE

    I haven't been posting about this but this isn't a done deal yet. Since I discovered this issue I've been putting the cluster into test 9 as soon as I get in every time (which is only every other day or so, the missus is using the car most of the time and I'm on the train). I notice that when I hop in the cluster reads 12.0-12.2, with the ignition on I'm in the mid-11s and cranking I'm in the 9s or high 8s. Running I'm 13.8-14.0.

    Yesterday from dead cold again I see that I'm right on 12 with the ignition just in the radio position and the cluster blanks when cranking again, although it doesn't sound exceptionally laboured like when I first noticed. This was charged with my maintenance charger last weekend and it's only been 3-4 days. I've prepared a cigarette lighter harness for my Fluke DMM since I know the cluster is only approximate but something's different. The car was on the float charger all night again and my wife disconnected it mid day to run errands. Tonight I decided that I was going to measure the sleep current. With a DMM the voltage at the battery was around 12.2x with the trunk open and systems on. According to temperature compensation math at 0*C I think that's bang on fully charged. 12.65 - (20 x 0.022) = 12.21v

    I rigged up the test and I read 24mA in sleep mode. This is OK, right? I have a figure of 13mA in my head for some reason but google seems to tell me that in the 20s is OK too. So, unless I had a module freaking out and disconnecting the battery to set up the sleep test rebooted and fixed it, I'm looking at a battery issue I guess.

    I'm still going to allow for the possibility that it's temperature related too... It may have become genuinely run down from short trips and maybe a reading light left on or who knows what and now it isn't fully deep charging in the sub-freezing temperatures. Because I read 100% on the hydrometer just a few months ago I think before giving up on it I will bring it in, warm it up and bench charge it to 14.5-15.0V to be absolutely certain. If it is weak in a week again, she's outta here. I'm pleased that I didn't develop a "10.4VDC" sulfation short in this battery because that will strand you but I also don't think it should be done just yet.


  7. #7
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    Yes | No

    Re: Correct battery group sizes?

    Hey,

    Last summer when my battery died, the only place that had a replacement on hand was Walmart (I think it was Energizer). Anyhow, it was a perfect fit, came with a vent kit and was $115 plus taxes.

  8. #8
    Craig in Canada
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    UPDATE #2

    So, the charging system "passes" at 14.0VDC or so. The car "passes" with 24mA draw when asleep. The only thing left was the battery.

    On the weekend I pulled the battery from the car and brought it inside to warm up. It came inside at -8C and at 25C I put it on my bulk charger capable of 10A. My plan was run it up to about 15V for "cell equalization charge" and to ensure that a full, deep chemical charge was present.

    On the bench I noticed that the battery is still leaving spooge around the caps (which my last two Interstat MTP-93s have done). When I pulled and tested the battery pre-winter in Sept I put foil tape over the cell caps and then clear duct tape over that. There was heavy buildup of white crystals along the cap edges. My first one puked acid all over the trunk and ruined things until pooling in the spare tire well around a drain.

    I took some pictures, cleaned everything up and started bulk charging, checking on it every 10-15 mins with my Fluke DMM. I came downstairs at 14.8V and it had puked a whole bunch of acid out the vent. I've never had to add electrolyte to this battery but I check it at least once a year, usually twice. I was considering the proper level to be indicated by the plastic descenders from the caps touching the top of the electrolyte making a "fish eye" pattern. I posted to a non-BMW forum and everyone said my batt was overfilled. I checked with a tie-wrap and the electrolyte level was about 1.25" over the plates. I removed about 3 cups of electrolyte to bring the level closer to the plate tops and it's still a little overfilled at that.

    I also re-did the hydrometer test (which said 100% in Sept) even though I had just taken it off the charger and it's supposed to rest. It says 75%.

    I'm getting a new battery, and it won't be another Johnson Controls/Interstate. I'm going with an East Penn/Deka battery - they have lines of AGM (absorption glass mat) batteries which have no liquid electrolyte in them, can never leak and have higher CCA ratings than flooded batteries. They also have a line of "exact fit OE" batteries for Euro cars which are flooded type but they are EXACTLY like the BMW factory battery.

    I'm just muddling through the decision on whether to spend more on AGM or not. "Exact fit" flooded is $188 and AGM group 49 is $254. My MTP-93 was around $160 5 years ago IIRC.

    http://www.eastpenncanada.com/brochu..._Batteries.pdf

    http://www.eastpenncanada.com/brochu...ntimidator.pdf

    http://www.eastpenncanada.com/brochu..._Batteries.pdf

  9. #9
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    Yes | No

    I have traditionally run AC Delco batteries >>

    in my cars, and they have delivered good service, and no outgassing or puking.

    I have one in the Bimmer now.

    My fave auto parts store stopped carrying them, muttering something about quality control. They now sell Deka.
    Ed in San Jose. BMW CCA member since 1987 (Nr. 62319). Golden Gate Chapter. '97 540i 6 speed. Build Date 3/97. Aspensilber over Aubergine leather.

  10. #10
    ExAlfa
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    Yes | No

    Cold snap killed my battery two days ago...

    but of course I didn't know until I used the car two days later - been bicycling to work. Ski night, though, so I was loaded to go but the car wanted to sleep in a bit. A quick jump got 'er moving.

    Interstates are sold by all kinds of folks, but the 93 is not common enough for them to bother stocking. So I tried the Autozone H8-DLG (Grp 49D). At 950 CCA it's a bear. Same sizes, everything fits well, with the same size vent outlet as the OEM battery it replaces. At 7+ years I'm not complaining. Pricing must be seasonal, because I paid $140. Swapped it in their parking lot during lunch hour.

  11. #11
    Mark
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    Yes | No

    Deka Size Chart

    All - Here's a link to Deka batteries. Scroll down in the .pdf to see the size chart. It looks like the group 93 and group 49 have the same width and length. The heights are slightly different. Perhaps that's why both can be used if the height is not an issue.

  12. #12
    Inner Circle Member Inner Circle Member
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    OT......

    Our CCA will be joining up with GGC on 5/1 for lunch and Western Railway Museum tour in Rio Vista area. Interested?

    Viv
    Northern California
    2003 530i Steel Blue Metallic /Gray leather
    AT/PP/SP/CWP/Xenon/Folding Rear Seats/Ultimate Cup Holders/Stongard Headlamp Covers/Stealth rear signal bulbs/50% tint/Saab trunk lid handle/PS2s/Aux. adapter/BMWCCA Member/With a Pink Panther on the mirror/E34('91 525i) retired

  13. #13
    Craig in Canada
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    Yes | No

    Conclusion

    So I went with the Deka/EastPenn flooded "Original OE fit" group 49 battery from a local reseller. The factory battery was 750CCA, the Interstate MTP-93 was 850CCA, this Deka is 900CCA.

    The Deka seems to have better build quality than the Interstate. One thing in particular is the cell caps are individual caps you open with a coin. They have O-rings to form a real seal. The MTP-93 has a plastic snap-in which covers 3 cells and is just a plastic-on-plastic seal.

    My suggestion is that if you're shopping, find a group 49 or 93 with real cell caps. Even the Energizer Max at Walmart were built with individual screw-in cell caps, although I didn't remove them to check for o-rings. With these better caps you won't get this:



    The battery fits perfectly, including stock venting - no more Interstate adapters, handles sticking up in the way etc... It's somewhere just below freezing at the moment. I installed the battery and watched the cluster on a test start. It was audibly faster cranking than I can ever remember and the cluster voltage stayed in the high 10s during cranking. I don't think I ever saw that kind of oomph with the MTP-93. Maybe on a summer, hot restart.

    For any who may be interested in premium AGM batteries, the Deka 9AGM49 is the model that fits the E39. I decided to save my $60 and put it towards my t-stat repair job :)


  14. #14
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    Craig, I have these (Deka made, group 49 AGM)

    in both of my cars for the last 1.5 years. I got them right at $100 each. I think you've made a good choice.
    http://www.oreillyauto.com/site/c/de...3321&ppt=C0005



    1998 BMW 540i 6 speed
    Arctic silver, M sport suspension (euro delivery), prod. date 05/98, non VANOS
    Staggered 18" style 32 OEM wheels
    3.15 open differential
    Remus exhaust
    AFE CAI with improved heat shield
    Z3 shifter
    VDO oil pressure and temperature gauges in place of headlight/fog switches
    Powder coated valve covers-satin black
    CDV delete
    Debadged
    AEA DRL module (aftermarket daytime running lights)

    1997 BMW 528iA
    Alpine white, premium package, prod. date 04/97, single VANOS
    Staggered 17" style 32 OEM wheels
    Debadged
    AEA DRL module
    Custom made sun blinds for rear seating area

    2000 Nissan Frontier Desert Runner, AKA "The Work Horse"

    Garage aids:
    Direct Lift Pro Park 8
    Campbell Hausfeld 28 gallon oil lubricated air compressor
    Newair ACP-1400H portable air conditioner and heater
    Auto Enginuity scan tool with BMW enhanced option
    Actron 9135 scan tool-for quick readouts



  15. #15
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    Yes | No

    That looks just like my NAPA battery I got back (m

    in '08. The caps have the same o-ring seals. No O'Reillys here in the northeast.


  16. #16
    Craig in Canada
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    Wow, $100 for AGM!!??


  17. #17
    Craig in Canada
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    Re: That looks just like my NAPA battery I got back (m

    The AGM batteries are not supposed to have a vent tube, they are completely sealed except for safety-level venting (high pressure) I would assume.

    Also, the group 49 flooded cell from Deka has the vent in the proper location on the end near the positive terminal. That's much nicer than the kludgey center location IMO.


  18. #18
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    Yup, I actually had about 6 year old Interstates

    in both of my cars that they were still ok. I just went ahead and took advantage of that deal.
    http://www.oreillyauto.com/site/c/de...3321&ppt=C0005



    1998 BMW 540i 6 speed
    Arctic silver, M sport suspension (euro delivery), prod. date 05/98, non VANOS
    Staggered 18" style 32 OEM wheels
    3.15 open differential
    Remus exhaust
    AFE CAI with improved heat shield
    Z3 shifter
    VDO oil pressure and temperature gauges in place of headlight/fog switches
    Powder coated valve covers-satin black
    CDV delete
    Debadged
    AEA DRL module (aftermarket daytime running lights)

    1997 BMW 528iA
    Alpine white, premium package, prod. date 04/97, single VANOS
    Staggered 17" style 32 OEM wheels
    Debadged
    AEA DRL module
    Custom made sun blinds for rear seating area

    2000 Nissan Frontier Desert Runner, AKA "The Work Horse"

    Garage aids:
    Direct Lift Pro Park 8
    Campbell Hausfeld 28 gallon oil lubricated air compressor
    Newair ACP-1400H portable air conditioner and heater
    Auto Enginuity scan tool with BMW enhanced option
    Actron 9135 scan tool-for quick readouts



  19. #19
    Craig in Canada
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    Are they old dates? scratch/dent? seconds?


  20. #20
    Registered Member
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    No, that's their regular price. It seems that

    O'Reilly probably has a deal with them and buys a lot of them. They do have little bit less CCA than Interstate and my cars live in garage, so I'm not sure what would happened if they were sitting outside in cold for a long time.



    1998 BMW 540i 6 speed
    Arctic silver, M sport suspension (euro delivery), prod. date 05/98, non VANOS
    Staggered 18" style 32 OEM wheels
    3.15 open differential
    Remus exhaust
    AFE CAI with improved heat shield
    Z3 shifter
    VDO oil pressure and temperature gauges in place of headlight/fog switches
    Powder coated valve covers-satin black
    CDV delete
    Debadged
    AEA DRL module (aftermarket daytime running lights)

    1997 BMW 528iA
    Alpine white, premium package, prod. date 04/97, single VANOS
    Staggered 17" style 32 OEM wheels
    Debadged
    AEA DRL module
    Custom made sun blinds for rear seating area

    2000 Nissan Frontier Desert Runner, AKA "The Work Horse"

    Garage aids:
    Direct Lift Pro Park 8
    Campbell Hausfeld 28 gallon oil lubricated air compressor
    Newair ACP-1400H portable air conditioner and heater
    Auto Enginuity scan tool with BMW enhanced option
    Actron 9135 scan tool-for quick readouts



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