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Battery Issues?

My wife owns a 2006 Kia Sedona minivan, which besides a distressing appetite for headlight bulbs, is a wonderful van to cart around us and the kids. About three days ago my wife drove the van across a very rough section of road work to take the kids to daycare, parked the van, ran the kids into daycare, came back out and turned the key. Nada. No bell, no relay click, no starter, no radio, nothing. So she has the van jump started and drives home. Gets home, stops the van and kills the engine. A couple minutes later she turns the key and it starts as nice as can be. I think ‘Battery or alternator’ issues, so when I get home I break out my VOM, start the van, and measure the voltage at the battery. 13.98 ~ 14.02 volts. Good alternator I think, so, I take the van to the parts store where I bought the battery 4 months ago. They test the battery and call it good. They then test the alternator. Also good. I scratch my head, and then drive it all over the place for a day. Runs as sweet as can be. I give it back to my wife, and she drives it to daycare the next morning. Same thing happens, and van is dead. She opens the hood and waits for another jump, but before the jump start, after the hood had been up for about 10 minutes she turns the key and gets one bell ding, then dead again.

My question is this: Can this still be a battery issue, or something worse?


Suspect corrosion on the battery cables. Clean the ends that connect to battery, and the opposite ends that connect to ground and wherever on the motor.

Sometimes the cable(s) corrode under the plastic insulation where you can’t see it. After cleaning if you still have the issue then one of the cables could be corroded internally.

This can still be a battery issue. Cables could be one thing, but the new battery could also have an internal defect - intermittent connection issue. You need to get the meter on it when the van isn’t starting.

Thanks for the input.

I looked at the cables when I VOMed the alternator and they LOOKED clean, but I did not remove them as that is a bit of a chore with in integrated fuse block on the negative terminal end. I’ll take the cables off and take a closer look at the cable ends.

How common are internal battery defects like that? I would have thought that if the battery was suddenly a open it would have killed and van there and then, not waited until it was parked and the engine off, or am I misunderstanding the circuit? If it was the battery shorting out, would there be any external damage due to the energy release? (Just curious about that, trained as a small signal engineer, have not shorted out a car battery to see what happens, seemed like a bad idea.)

Batteries with defective internal cell connectors usually explode because of the internal spark…very, very rare…

Sounds more like a bad connection on one of the primary cables…Check both ends of both cables. Another possibility is a failing ignition switch…

I recently had a completely unexploded battery that sometimes was fine…and sometimes wasn’t.

Its not common but it happens. It can also just be a bad internal post connection. Its easy to find out - at one of the times the van won’t do anything you put the meter on it.

As for the headlight bulbs, are you making sure not to touch them with your skin when you install them? You don’t want to get oil on them.

On the head lights I’ve taken to wearing latex gloves during the replacement and using dielectric grease on the posts. They live about 6~8 months, then blow out. I’ve even tried different brands with no effect. I’ve even checked the van’s ground as I heard that a bad ground can pop headlights, and as far as I can tell it’s good.

I would vote for poor cable connections too or a bad cable so check both ends of all the cables. Might want to put a voltage maintainer on before disconnecting the battery so you don’t lose all the settings and have to go through a computer relearn.

Check the condition of your battery posts and terminals on the battery cables where they connect to the battery, ground and starter to be sure they are clean and tight. This sounds like a typical connections issue.

You can test the cables by using the VOM to check the voltage drop across the cable. Under normal, non starting, loads the voltage should be near 0. Anything more than a couple tenths of a volt indicates a problem. Work through the main battery cables first. You could also run wires directly from the battery into the cab and monitor the battery voltage with the VOM. That will tell you what is happening when the car won’t start. The battery could have a cracked internal connection that only shows, for now, up with heat and vibration. The rough road could also be the cause of your short bulb life. You might try a different brand or ask at the auto parts if there is a heavy duty replacement.

I think your two situations of burning out lightbulbs and the occasional no start condition are related and I agree with the others that it is related to corrosion on the battery cables. The high resistance in the battery cables may be causing the voltage from the alternator to spike burning out the bulbs. The high resistance caused by the corrosion is also not letting enough current from the battery to get to the starter motor to crank the engine. Do as the others suggest about the battery cables and you may solve both problems.

You didn’t check the other end of the power (red) cable. It should connect to the starter. It’s probably under the car and you will have to lift the car to check this cable for corrosion. Follow the red cable to see where it goes from the battery. The black cable could also be corroded where it grounds to the engine/chassis. Since the Sedona is only 6 years old, I think this is unlikely, but possible. BTW, if you go under the Sedona, use a floor jack (not the jack in the trunk) and jack stands. Your safety is more important than a quick check under the car.

Don’t go under the car with only a jack under it. Leave the jack in place and place jack stands underneath in case the jack fails.