Vehicle Electronic Failures

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David_Bricker
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Vehicle Electronic Failures

Post by David_Bricker » Sat Sep 02, 2006 8:09 pm

From a similar topic, this idea came up.

How many of you have had electronic components, such as computers, sensors, etc. fail on your modern vehicles? Did they render the vehicle immovable? Did you get stuck somewhere you didn't want to be? How did you recover?

This question is what might be appropriate or necessary to carry as spares in order to improve your chances of getting your rig home in case of a failure.

My thinking is that the electronics in today's cars are reliable enough to NOT bring spares with. I still think spares for things like belts, tire repair and maybe hoses are warranted. But I can't see the electronic gizmos. Too many of them anyway to catch everything.

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Post by Philo » Fri Sep 08, 2006 3:03 pm

I have a 1990 Nissan Pathfinder with 176k miles on it and nothing computerized has failed that would have rendered me stranded.

The only thing close was a brand-new battery that shorted out on me AFTER a trip to DV in 1995. It was installed a week before and crapped out a week after :???:

I carry the spare hoses, belts, filters, fluids, fix-a-leak, JB Weld, tools, Hi-Lift, come-a-long, and other stuff but have never used them on my vehicle.

I do do preventative maintence and careful pre-trip inspections.
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deathvalleydan
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Post by deathvalleydan » Fri Sep 08, 2006 6:30 pm

I have only been on one trip where all electronics worked correctly. Something always goes wrong, wether it be the gps, cell, laptop, or plugs and cables associated with those devises. Sometimes, the operator forgets the software too.

But the car always seems to work. Nearing 200000 miles now.
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David_Bricker
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Post by David_Bricker » Fri Sep 08, 2006 7:55 pm

Philo wrote:I have a 1990 Nissan Pathfinder with 176k miles on it and nothing computerized has failed that would have rendered me stranded.

The only thing close was a brand-new battery that shorted out on me AFTER a trip to DV in 1995. It was installed a week before and crapped out a week after :???:

I carry the spare hoses, belts, filters, fluids, fix-a-leak, JB Weld, tools, Hi-Lift, come-a-long, and other stuff but have never used them on my vehicle.

I do do preventative maintence and careful pre-trip inspections.
Interesting that a dead battery today could pretty much render a vehicle worthless as easily as a lot of electronc stuff. Hard/impossible to run a vehicle without a battery, even if you could start it, as the electronics needs the filtering/regulation the battery provides. Also hard on smaller rigs to carry a spare battery someplace. On my 4x4 van, I had two batteries for camp lighting, etc., but then I had a lot of storage rooom.

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David_Bricker
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Post by David_Bricker » Fri Sep 08, 2006 7:57 pm

deathvalleydan wrote:I have only been on one trip where all electronics worked correctly. Something always goes wrong, wether it be the gps, cell, laptop, or plugs and cables associated with those devises. Sometimes, the operator forgets the software too.

But the car always seems to work. Nearing 200000 miles now.
That does seem to confirm that the grade of electronics in the cars are superior to some of the consumer electronic items. I wonder if we would see different reliability numbers from "second tier" auto makers, like Kia, Daewoo, etc.

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Post by Rubiblue » Fri Sep 08, 2006 8:43 pm

Interesting that a dead battery today could pretty much render a vehicle worthless as easily as a lot of electronc stuff. Hard/impossible to run a vehicle without a battery, even if you could start it, as the electronics needs the filtering/regulation the battery provides. Also hard on smaller rigs to carry a spare battery someplace. On my 4x4 van, I had two batteries for camp lighting, etc., but then I had a lot of storage rooom.
That's why the Rubi has a dual battery system. Which, when my Optima recently failed, saved the day. It's a small, rapid discharge type and mounts on top of the regular battery. It's sold by Jeepers and Creepers and works just as advertised.

jeepersandcreepers.com
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Post by Rubiblue » Fri Sep 08, 2006 8:46 pm

Sorry, that was supposed to be a link.
BTW, the only failure I've had besides batteries, was a computer on my 95 Dakota 4x4. It would fail in a heat soak situation. We discovered we could make it work by pouring cold water THRU it! And I have witnesses to prove it! :shock:
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Post by D.A. Wright » Fri Sep 08, 2006 10:11 pm

David_Bricker wrote:Interesting that a dead battery today could pretty much render a vehicle worthless as easily as a lot of electronc stuff. Hard/impossible to run a vehicle without a battery, even if you could start it, as the electronics needs the filtering/regulation the battery provides. Also hard on smaller rigs to carry a spare battery someplace.
I wonder if one of those power supply/jumper units could function as an emergency battery? I always carry mine in my Tacoma in a plastic tote box in the bed along with other stuff.

Image

Seems if it can jump a battery, it could function as one until you can get back to civilization. Simply strap the jumper unit in place of the battery, clamp onto the battery cables and go. Anyone know for sure?
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Post by Philo » Fri Sep 08, 2006 10:12 pm

Back in the 80's I had a Ford F150 4x4 and installed a dual battery system; the second battery, a marine deep cycle, ran everything that didn't come from the Ford. I even wired the stereo and interior lights to it.

Now a days, I have a portable battery jumper in the Nissan whenever I leave my "hood".
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Post by David_Bricker » Fri Sep 08, 2006 10:26 pm

D.A. Wright wrote:
Seems if it can jump a battery, it could function as one until you can get back to civilization. Simply strap the jumper unit in place of the battery, clamp onto the battery cables and go. Anyone know for sure?
I suspect it would. What most of today's electronics needs is enough battery to act as a capacitor and clean up some of the noise from the alternator. Since these booster batteries are big enough to start the car, they should provide sufficient filtering. I also suspect each car is different in the requirements for this filtering.

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Post by Clay Taylor » Sat Sep 09, 2006 6:35 am

Hi David..re: the emergency jump battery replaciing the regular car battery, I worked for an auto auction for a couple of years and we used these jump batteries in place of car batteries on a regular basis. We would clamp the leads to the regular battery and drive far enough to get to our destination. I have one now that I take with me 24/7 and used it as such on one occasion, what a life saver that was.
Clay

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Post by D.A. Wright » Sat Sep 09, 2006 9:33 am

Clay Taylor wrote:... we used these jump batteries in place of car batteries on a regular basis.
David Bricker wrote:Since these booster batteries are big enough to start the car, they should provide sufficient filtering.
Good to know. Thanks!
D.A. Wright
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Post by D.A. Wright » Sat Sep 09, 2006 3:37 pm

Since many of us regular off-roaders carry one of these jumper/power supplies as part of our gear (mine is in my Tacoma 24/7), it seems we already are carrying a spare battery if the need arises.

Let me bounce this off you guys:

I suppose it would be best to leave the vehicle's battery in place (if the battery case hasn't busted open or there isn't a shorted cell) and mount the power supply somewhere under the hood in a safe location free from the potential to fly into the fan or drop under the vehicle (these things are heavy - mounting it, even temporarily, might be a challenge in those vehicles with little underhood room). With the car's battery in place and the power supply putting its power through the primary battery, the filtering chores are still handled by the primary battery while the power is being handled by the power supply.

If the battery case is busted open or there's a shorted cell (thus even the power supply's power isn't reaching the vehicle's electrical system), then the power supply can be strapped with strong rubber straps or bungees into the battery tray (or with the vehicle's battery tie down's if possible) and the jumper clamps attached to the battery cables.

Now, a question just came to mind: if the battery failed but the vehicle's charging system is OK, will the alternator's output be too high for these power supplies to handle, or could it cause some other problem as the alternator tries to charge the power supply? Mine is chargeable only by AC 120v, so I don't know if there might be conflicts or potential for damage. But I've seen some units capable of being charged in the car via a power port, so I suppose these types wouldn't suffer damage, although I'm sure a power port's amperage rating is reduced substantially. I assume if the battery is in place, most of the alternator's output would be soaked up by the battery and little passed onto the power supply?

These jumper/power supply systems claim the potential for 20+ jumps before needing charging! If that's the case, there must be some pretty large batteries in them (likely the cause of the weight) and thus obviously have deep reserves.

And since it's been brought up, let me ask, how difficult is it to install a dual battery setup? My Tacoma appears to have an abundance of underhood room. I wouldn't be worried installing one in my old, electronically stone age simple '70 Ford F-250 4x4 I used to own, but today's vehicles have so many computers and electronics that I'd be paranoid about touching the battery cable to the post and having the whole truck light up like Manhattan! :shock:

I must brag a bit here: I purchased my 2002 Tacoma 4x4 new in June 2002. It just turned over 84,000 miles this morning. It still has the battery it came from the dealer with. I also have a 2003 Toyota Camry that I bought new in December of 2002, it has 106,100 miles on it and it still has its original battery. Every other vehicle I've purchased new had their batteries go south within a year or 15,000 miles; except the one in my '96 Chevy S-10, which lasted about two years and died at about 36,000 miles.
D.A. Wright
~When You Live in Nevada, "just down the road" is anywhere in the line of sight within the curvature of the earth.

David_Bricker
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Post by David_Bricker » Sat Sep 09, 2006 4:56 pm

If the car's battery is not shorted, broken, etc. then using the aux battery just to get the engine started should be all you need. The normal battery, even if it can't accept a charge, should do the "filtering" and let you continue without connecting up the aux battery at all. As long as the battery isn't completely dead (<5 volts or so)

I see the aux battery coming into play when the normal battery has had some kind of significant failure (couple of dead cells, lost an arguement with the fan, cracked case) and can't sustain any kind of charge.

The charging system should self-regulate; that is, it wouldn't overcharge the aux battery. Now, I would have expected that these batteries should reverse charge throught the jumper cable connection. I haven't looked, but I would be surprised if they put in diodes to prevent that. While the unit may only have a 120V charger, can't you hook these to your battery under normal conditions to use the air compressor for extended periods? If so, then the battery can get cherged through the jumper cable connections.

Bottom line, I don't see a problem hooking them up for a short term, get me out of Saline Valley type of situation.

As far as dual battery setups for your Taco, the key is to get an RV-style isolation/cutover switch. This is set up so that you can charge both batteries, but the primary battery doesn't get drained by playing tunes throughout the night. These switch setups will protect the rest of the electrical system as well.

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Post by Farmer Dean » Sat Sep 09, 2006 7:41 pm

David, you're right. I mounted a second battery in my Cherokee along with an isolator/solenoid and it works great. When the engine is running it charges both batteries, however when you're on accessory it only draws from one battery, saving the other as your 'starter battery'. No more worrying about leaving the dome lites on too long, etc. I used to carry a second battery in with my gear - this works much better and easier. If you look hard you can usually find a place to jam another battery in. Dean.

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