Optima battery hissing

Discussion in '95+ Gen Toyota Trucks' started by Bighead, Sep 18, 2010.

  1. Bighead

    Bighead Dulce Bellum Inexpertis

    Messages:
    606
    Location:
    Colorado
    I have a 1.5 year old Optima Red Top (34R) in my 4Runner and noticed a hissing sound coming from it after driving it yesterday.

    The 4Runner had been sitting in airport long-term parking for 5-days. I drove it home yesterday and when I parked it noticed a hissing sound coming from the engine bay. After checking it appeared to be coming from the vent nearest the Positive terminal.

    Is there something I should be concerned about or is this normal and I have just never noticed it before? Thanks.
  2. Duane

    Duane IH8MUD Wookie

    Messages:
    700
    Location:
    Medicine Hat
    A hissing noise loud enough to draw your attention seems a bit of a concern. I would likley throw a volt meter on the terminals when it is running to see if the voltage regulator is keeping it below 13.8 volts.
  3. raydouble

    raydouble

    Messages:
    1,707
    Location:
    Rochester, WA
    I'm not sure what Toyota has it's regulators set to put out but anything under 15 volts should be ok for the battery. I would use it normally and just keep an eye on it........and don't check it with an ignition source near by, hydrogen gas is what is venting there....
  4. Bighead

    Bighead Dulce Bellum Inexpertis

    Messages:
    606
    Location:
    Colorado
    Thanks guys. I think I am either going to swap it for the Odyssey PC1500 (34R) I had sitting in my garage for a dual battery set-up or pull one of the Optimas from the 100 (replace with PC1500) and put that in the 4Runner.

    I just don't want to take the chance of having my battery fail in the middle of nowhere.
  5. TheDurk

    TheDurk

    Messages:
    28
    Location:
    New Jersey
    From the Optima web site (Optima Battery Charging - AGM Battery Charging):

    This is definitely not normal. Optimas have problems with many standard chargers but I have never heard of issues with alternators under normal conditions. I would definitely wonder about the internal regulator on your alt.
  6. dfmorse

    dfmorse

    Messages:
    1,518
    Location:
    EVERGREEN, CO, USA
    For ur sake, don't lite a cig near that thing! Very bad!!
    Replace battery soon.

    ...
  7. Duane

    Duane IH8MUD Wookie

    Messages:
    700
    Location:
    Medicine Hat
    If you want to check the existing battery shut the vehicle off. In a well vented area wait until any vapors have disipated.

    I would check the voltage... should be 12.8 or so and then if you have or know of someone with an inexpensive load tester they work great for a 2 second load test. This is what I use at work.
    bty load tester.jpg
  8. OptimaJim

    OptimaJim

    Messages:
    67
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Hi Lance, I'm sorry to hear about the problem you've been having and I'd like to help. Duane offers good advice about checking your voltage regulator, although we typically see voltage from a healthy charging system in the range of 13.7-14.7 volts. When voltage regulators fail and batteries are severely overcharged, the battery will vent gas because the internal pressure exceeds the release pressure of the vents.


    It sounds like your charging system was responding to a deeply-discharged battery, so it might also be worthwhile to check the key-off load on your truck. If there is a significant parasitic draw present, it will continue to cause problems for your vehicle any time you let it sit for several days at a time. I don't know how much damage was done to your battery, but if you fully-charge it (12.6-12.8 volts) and disconnect it from any current draws, it should be able to hold close to that voltage for 12-24 hours afterwards. If it can hold a charge when disconnected from your vehicle, but loses voltage when connected, there is likely a parasitic draw that is discharging your battery. I should also mention that RedTops are not designed or warrantied for deep-cycle applications, including vehicles with winches, refrigerators or welders. If you have any other questions, I'll do my best to answer them.


    Jim McIlvaine
    eCare Manager, OPTIMA Batteries, Inc.
    www.powerpacknation.com
  9. Happy Trails

    Happy Trails

    Messages:
    720
    Location:
    Central Calif.
    Hey Jim, How come my last Optima Red Top lasted only a year and a half with no extreme use??
    X2 on the Odyssey.
  10. Bighead

    Bighead Dulce Bellum Inexpertis

    Messages:
    606
    Location:
    Colorado
    That is a the same question I had. The Optima 34R I had in there previously had lasted for over 7 years with a lot of winching and generally operating in "extreme" conditions. The one that vented had been in there for 1.5 years and had seen very little wheeling, no winching and powering the same electrical accessories that have been on the 4Runner for about the last 4 years.

    It could be the alternator but with 92,000 miles on my 4Runner and the original alternator I would be mildly surprised.
  11. OptimaJim

    OptimaJim

    Messages:
    67
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    I wish I had all the answers for why batteries fail in specific instances, but with limited information, it is difficult to say anything with certainty. I know one guy's definition of “extreme” can vary greatly from the next guy and I know most batteries that fail from manufacturing defects will do so well within the first year of use, if not the first week. RedTops should not be used in deep-cyle applications, because they are starting batteries. Lance, I'm glad your previous RedTop held up so well under such demanding conditions, but that type of use is really more appropriate for YellowTops, which are designed and warrantied for deep-cycle applications. What is the output of your alternator at idle and what is the key-off load on your vehicle?


    Jim McIlvaine
    eCare Manager, OPTIMA Batteries, Inc.
    www.facebook.com/optimabatteries

  12. Bighead

    Bighead Dulce Bellum Inexpertis

    Messages:
    606
    Location:
    Colorado
    I don't know the numbers Jim since I don't have a way to measure it. I understand the limitations of the Red Top and will be switching to something more appropriate for my uses.

    I'm taking the 4Runner to a trusted shop tomorrow to get the alternator checked. Is it safe to drive with the questionable/venting battery (if it still has a charge) or should I throw in a replacement for the 30 minute drive?
  13. raydouble

    raydouble

    Messages:
    1,707
    Location:
    Rochester, WA
    I would start it and run it in the morning for like 10 mins. Then shut it off and see if it is still venting. But if I didn't have a replacement handy I probably wouldn't think twice about using it...ymmv.
  14. Duane

    Duane IH8MUD Wookie

    Messages:
    700
    Location:
    Medicine Hat
    I would think it is a pretty low risk that it would blow up and if it has been hissing you might be needing another battery anyway so what will you likely wreck? I would drive mine. As for failing in the middle of no where...after you start your vehicle you can remove your battery and throw it in the ditch and drive away on the alternator... not needed until your next start or a load greater than what the alternator will put out.

    Thinking about your 5 days at the parking lot shouldn't pull down your battery that much. I have had vehicles sitting for quite a while to where the battery won't or will barely turn over the engine. Some batteries seem to tolerate the deep cycle although not a "deep cycle" battery and some just fold up like a cheap tent so to speak. I used to buy Canadian Tire brand batteries, great warranty and even replaced 1 twice on an old truck as a couple deep cycles and they were toast. The factory Toyota batteries in my current 3rd gens have been deep cycled a few times and they seem to tolerate it. I'm not sure who makes a Toyota brand battery. At any rate for normal use I wouldn't buy a battery brand that doesn't last me at least 5 years of normal use unless I had a row of high watt lights or winching use outside the normal and then maybe I could accept a shorter service life. Of course if you discharge a battery when it's below freezing that is pretty much a death warrant... done
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2010
  15. Bighead

    Bighead Dulce Bellum Inexpertis

    Messages:
    606
    Location:
    Colorado
    I went to two places today to get the battery and alternator checked...my local Autozone and a trusted independent mechanic. Both came up with the same result...alternator is good and the battery checked out okay but with a low charge. I drove the 4Runner around town for a couple of hours and did not see any more venting or odd behavior.

    I'm not sure what to think now other than I will be swapping out the questionable battery for the Odyssey PC1500...just need to make a spacer.
  16. Happy Trails

    Happy Trails

    Messages:
    720
    Location:
    Central Calif.
    Thanks for the response Jim. I was pretty disappointed with my last Optima purchase. I still have my first
    Optima Red Top and it is over 7yrs old and still strong in my 1986 Landcruiser! Impressive...and the reason I bought another one for my 2000 Tacoma. Maybe I just got a lemon...
  17. OptimaJim

    OptimaJim

    Messages:
    67
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Lance, I apologize for my late response. If your battery vented because of a problem with your charging system, it will likely do the same thing to any battery you install. If your RedTop can hold a charge and start your vehicle, it's probably best to continue using it until you track down the source of your issues. I mentioned this GM Techlink article in another thread here, but it might be applicable in your situation as well, particularly this section:

    "Traditional charging systems use an internal
    temperature sensor inside the generator to
    establish generator voltage set points. When the
    generator is cold, it raises the voltage output set
    point. When the generator is hot, it lowers the
    voltage output set point. This type of system
    tends to overcharge the battery on long trips at
    highway speeds and undercharge the battery on
    short trips with low vehicle speeds."


    If your alternator has checked out as being good and your battery tested as being good, but with a low charge, it is likely that something in your vehicle was discharging your battery as it sat at long-term parking (and elsewhere). This video explains how to check the key-off load in a vehicle. Please keep me posted on your findings!

    Jim McIlvaine
    eCare Manager, OPTIMA Batteries, Inc.
    Optima Batteries | Facebook

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