Scorpio – A new battery every two years

My Mahindra Scorpio CRDe, pet named ‘Shadow’ completed 9 years last month and this month the 4th battery on duty failed. All batteries so far have been giving a life of around 2 years. The third one needed replacement before two years and I squeezed almost 2.5 years out of the 4th battery.

The battery that just died is an Amaron Black 65AH battery. Shadow gave the first indications of dying battery a few months back when it refused to start after resting for 5 days. 5 days of rest is rare for Shadow. Though I do not do high miles, I do use the vehicle almost every day. Going by the life I got from the previous batteries, I was almost certain that the battery is acting up. I’ve been lazy to get it checked/changed and in a way trying to squeeze some extra days out of the battery.

Many may say that 2 years is good, but this is the only vehicle in which the battery lasts only 2 years. I never changed batteries in my other cars in such short period. Typically I would get 3.5 to 4 years.

Since the vechicle has no problem on daily use, I planned for the battery change in January when I’ll get a break. I wanted to check the wiring myself and make sure there is no unwanted battery drain at rest before going for a new battery. Resting battery drain is one of the reasons I had in mind for the low battery life/failing to start after 5 day rest, just my thought.

But the change came earlier. It’s the last week of December, winter in Hyderabad is at its peak, I did not use the vehicle for a day and the next day it did not start.

My dad’s good old 1961 Ambassador Mark 1 came to the rescue, jump started Shadow and got a new battery.

Which Battery?

Last two batteries have been Amaron Black, before that was a SF and have no idea of the first one. All these gave only two years. So thought of going for Exide(In my other cars, I’ve always switched from OEM Exides to Amaron as Amaron was my preferred battery).

Asked my friendly neighborhood battery wala to get me an Exide 80Ah battery instead of the OEM 65Ah because I was always under the mindset that 65Ah battery is not sufficient for 2.6 Litre Scorpio. The battery guy brought the battery to home and removed the battery packing and seal. It wouldn’t fit. We’ve actually measured the battery base before getting this, but the problem is with the wiring harness from ECU that comes out of passenger cabin. The harness comes out next to the battery and to install 80Ah battery, the wiring harness needs to be bent. Being a 9 year old vehicle, the harness, the wiring insulations etc are brittle and I did not want to break them or disturb the originality.

So finally ended up with Exide 65Ah battery. Though the 80Ah battery was unsealed for me, the guy kindly took it back and came back with the 65Ah battery. The battery base is large enough to house a 80Ah battery, but the wiring comes into way. The only way to use the 80Ah battery was to either force the wiring out of the way or fix the battery in a way it comes beyond the base plate, both of which I do not like. I love to have an undisturbed vehicle as far as possible and without any alternate adjustments.

New Battery : Exide Mileage MI700 (FMI0-MI700), 65Ah, its a right layout battery. There is also MI700L which is a left layout battery meaning the battery positive and negative terminals will be on the opposite sides.

Old Battery : Amaron 700RMF (AAM-BL-0BL-700RMF), 65Ah.

How Much?

Rs.4800/- in exchange of the old battery. This price is around Rs.200/- less than the batterybhai dot com price. Had I ordered from a website, I do not think they would have taken the 80Ah battery back(after unsealing for me) and give me a 65Ah battery. Moreover the websites wanted the exchange battery to be of same capacity. In my case, the friendly guy was ready to take a 65Ah in exchange for 80Ah. BTW, the price for 80Ah battery is Rs.5000/- in exchange. The price given for the old battery is Rs.1200/-

Result?

The spinning of cranking motor is noticeably faster. I did notice such change during the last battery change too. The spinning was equally fast when the Amaron was new, but with time it probably got slower and my mind also has adjusted to that and I kept thinking it is normal. So this time I have recorded the spinning sound. When it approaches two years from now, I will start comparing the recorded sound with the actual spinning to see if there is a noticeable change. This will give me an idea of the dying battery. Well, thats the plan, if I remember where the sound file is.

Why do batteries die in Winter?

I think they actually die in summer and we realize it in winter.

Battery power(right term may be CCA, cold cranking amps) is lower at low temperatures. So, the same battery will have lower power at a lower temperature. The battery which supplied X Amps in summer can not supply same Amps in winter even if it is in the same condition.

Oil becomes thicker as the temperature goes down. So to crank the engine, the started motor has to work harder to rotate the engine internals in that thick oil in Winter. The burden because of the thick oil is very high. So even with a very good battery, the starter will rotate a bit slower though we may not notice. As the starter is slower/sluggish, it takes a bit longer to start the engine. My scorpio which usually starts in 1 seconds has been taking 2 or 3 seconds which I should have noticed.

From the two points above, we know that in winter the starter needs higher CCA and may be for longer duration and the battery can only supply lower CCA than normal. This is when the car fails to start.

This is exactly what happened in my case. On the cold morning, Scorpio needed power for two more seconds and battery was not in a position to supply those two seconds of extra power consistently. Once the car is started, the battery gets some charge, oil becomes thinner and the car starts as usual in a second. But the real test is the early morning start. How easily is your cranking motor spinning?

Why does my Scorpio battery dies every two years?

From the little knowledge I have, here are the few reasons I see.

1. Heat takes toll on battery. Scorpios engine bay is the hottest engine bay of any ¬†vehicles I’ve used(My experience is limited to A,B & C segment). During summers, lifting the hood and holding the rod(hood stopper?) is also a big task, I have to do it in seconds, I can not hold them long. This may be the biggest reason for such low life. In any other car, though the engine bay will be hot, it will not be as hot that you can not hold the hood for more than a few seconds. This super heat of the engine bay must be one of the reasons.

Is my Scorpio heating abnormally? I do not think so, It’s been like that all the time. Initially I reported this to the service guys who said this is normal temp. The temp gauge is always in normal and there hasn’t been any incident related to over heating. So I think my Scorpio is not over heating, Scorpio(engine bay) runs hot, the brick like aerodynamics may be a reason.

2. 65Ah battery may be the second reason. The cars with 1300cc/1400cc come with same 65Ah rated battery. The scorpio with its 2600cc engine also comes with the same 65Ah battery. 65Ah can work as long as there are ideal conditions, but when it has to go an extra mile in starting, it can not handle.

A 65Ah battery on a smaller car may be able to supply enough cranking power even after a month of rest,, but this battery can not supply enough cranking power on a Scorpio after an equal rest. The cranking motor on the smaller engine can rotate at its normal speed after such rest, but the scorpios cranking motor will be sluggish taking it longer to start.

Both the smaller car and scorpio can start in those 2 seconds provided the cranking motor operates at its full speed. Even when the battery capacity has reduced(say after two years), on a smaller car, the 65Ah battery can operate the cranking motor at full speed after rest or on a cold day bringing the engine to life in two seconds. So the battery will work for few more months. But on Scorpio, the same battery can not operate the cranking motor at full speed and as a result the power is needed for a few more seconds and the battery fails to supply for those few extra seconds.

Since the battery can start the smaller engine even after two or three years, it lasts longer. It actually doesn’t last longer, but even a partially depleted battery can supply enough power for a smaller car, but the same partially depleted battery can supply enough power for a Scorpio. An 80Ah battery would have been ideal is what I think.

3. Charge/Discharge. In continuation to the above, the smaller car draws a small power from the battery and will be charged back after engine fires up. A scorpio draws much higher power from the same battery. So discharge is higher while starting and this too gets charged after the engine fires up. The difference is that the battery on Scorpio is going through a higher discharge/charge.

I will be checking my vehicle for resting power drain. If there is any abnormal power drain in mine, that may be adding to this.

4. Vibrations. Heard that the coating on the plates slowly falls down and gets deposited at the bottom of the battery. This happens in any car sooner or later. The vibrations in Scorpio are relatively higher and so the coating probably falls sooner than other cars. The battery sits much higher than other cars which may add to this vibration. Moreover, being in SUV we do not care for the smaller pot holes, do we? From what I heard, the deposits short the plates inside and eventually result in the failure of that cell.

 

So end of the day, a new battery almost every two years and you can read the reasons I see above. It’s the start of 10th year and 5th battery for my SHADOW. I’d love to have a 80Ah battery, but did not want to disturb the wiring, so I’ll have to live with this 65Ah battery. How long does the battery last on your Scorpio/other? Let me know your feedback/opinion on my analysis, I’m not an expert but I would love to learn.

BTW, I’m not getting bored of this damn Scorpio, addicted to its torque and presence. I enjoy every single drive on it.

Regards

 

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  • scorpion

    Hi!
    We too have the same problem in Scorpio hybrid. First time the issue came up when the car was not used for four days. We had to get the battery charged n put it back. The battery is brand new, hardly bought it a year back. Yesterday it was raining heavily and just parked my car at night. In the morning again the same issue the battery drained out. No idea how the battery is getting drained.
    Please tell me how did you resolve your issue and whether it did get resolved.
    Regards,
    Scorpion

    • vishki

      Almost after an year after the blog post, I got time to check for the resting power draw(parasitic draw). My Scorpio indeed had parasitic draw. I disconnected the battery and used a multimeter to check the draw and could sort it out. You can find a lot of videos on youtube, search for “parasitic draw”. I disconnected the negative battery terminal and used a multimeter + test lamp in series.