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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 12-25-2006, 01:48 PM   #1
MrCraig
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Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Monterey, CA
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My Ride: 2003 Z4 3.0
BMW OEM Battery Question

I am trying to figure out what type of battery the OEM battery in my 2003 Z4 (E85) is. I imagine this is the same battery in the E46's. The charger I bought has a setting for gel, wet, and AGM. Unfortunately, my powers of Google have come up short.

Does anyone know what type of battery it is?

The part number on the top is 61218381738.

Thanks, any help is appreciated.

Craig
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Old 12-25-2006, 02:32 PM   #2
shortyb
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The OEM battery is a wet or "flooded" cell battery. It is sealed with vent regulation and needs no routine maintenance.

Wet refers to the cell plates being submerged in the electrolyte (acid). You can hear it sloshing around when you move the battery. These comprise most automotive batteries out there. These batteries generally need no special charging methods or equipment. Gel batteries have silica added to the electrolyte to give it a Jello like consistancy. They won't spill but have to be charged at a very slow rate. Hot weather can kill a gel-cell too since the heat can "cook" what little moisture is in the electrolyte. AGMs are "absorbed glass mat" batteries that are the best of both the others. All of the electrolyte is "absorbed" by the plates so there is no excess to spill. The electrolyte is the same as a wet cell and can be charged conventionally.

What type of charging are you looking to do? Trickle charging for winter or charging for low voltage? If trickle, make sure it charges right around 1A/hr and has circuitry to sense when to stop charging. If charging for low voltage, make sure your battery is still capable. Have it load tested to make sure. If its weak, replace it. If it keeps running down with regular driving, check your charging system. Our cars are very sensitive to voltage.
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Old 12-25-2006, 02:56 PM   #3
MrCraig
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This charge is for low voltage.

I went out of town for a month and my wife "neglected" her "drive the car once a week duties" It is totally dead right now. This has happened before. With no driving the car will run down in about 10 days to two weeks. I am thinking this is because I left it without driving for about a month or so before (I am in the military and travel frequently).

I bought a Black & Decker "Fully Automatic Electronic Smart Battery Charger" it has 15/20/2 A charging rates ($60 bucks Wal-Mart).

I was planning on using its Normal Charge now. Once I leave again I will use the Auto Float Charge to supplement my wife's weekly driving, the manual transmission makes her nervous.

It also has a "recondition" function. I am not sure exactly how this differs from the equalization function. In my military background we only dealt with Normal and Equalizing charges for our submarine batteries (they are huge). I am thinking that there may be a sulfate build up on the plates from the extended inactivity before that is causing it to go totally dead in under 2 weeks (I don't know if this is normal, though). The "recondition" function is a 24 hour process that is supposed to help drive the PbSO4 back into the electrolyte. Does anyone have any experience with this?

Everything I have read says you should connect the charger to the terminals under the hood, not to the posts directly at the battery (mine is in the trunk).

Thanks, for your quick reply ShortyB!

Merry Christmas.
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Old 12-25-2006, 03:33 PM   #4
shortyb
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The B&D charger should work fine. Doesn't sound like it's a strictly bulk charger since it has a float cycle built in, this is good. The "recondition" sounds like a marketing term for equalization. Equalization for a wet cell battery should be done every month if it just sits. This charge is generally 10% higher than a bulk charge and gets the electrolyte bubbling. The bubbling prevents the electrolyte from "stratifying" which means that the solution can be stronger at the top than at the bottom. This is where sulphation starts and may be what you are experiencing the beginnings of. There is no return from this when the "white death" covers the plates, time for a new battery. But if it just starting, you may "convert" it back but don't expect it to stay away for very long. It will takes many cycles to return it to "normal" and if the battery has some age on it, don't expect it to survive.

Anyway, give it a try. Do a "recondition" cycle first and then go to float. You can keep the battery in the trunk, just make sure to keep the caps on and the vent tube is routed correctly. Its best to attach the charger clamps directly to the battery for any bulk or equalization charges but the underhood connections will be fine for a float type charge. May be more convenient for your wife too.

Thanks for the holiday greeting. Merry Christmas to you and your's. And thanks for you military service!
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