Car batteries can explode?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by question fear, Oct 4, 2007.

  1. question fear macrumors 68020

    question fear

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    #1
    Apparently car batteries can explode...as I found out firsthand tonight.

    I hopped in my car, started it, and there was a "boom"...followed by nasty smoke and a terrible noise. I popped the hood, and there was clearly a portion of the battery popped off, and the smoke was all emanating from it.

    AAA says it's not uncommon for old batteries to do that. Scared the everloving **** out of me though. Anyone else have this happen? Did your car have any long-term issues from it?
     
  2. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    Feb 19, 2005
    #2
    Pics or it didn't happen....

    Wait, glad you didn't explode.
     
  3. question fear thread starter macrumors 68020

    question fear

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    #3
    HA! If it had been light out and I'd been calmer I totally would have snapped a pic. It smelled awful as you can imagine.

    Yes, I am glad I didn't explode either. "Splosions bad.
     
  4. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

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    May 19, 2002
    #4
    Yep, I had a truck that used to chew up factory sized batteries.

    Went to turn the key one day and got a loud pop with a whiff of smoke, darn thing shorted out and ignited the gas in the battery.

    But didn't damage the case, just vented out the vents.

    ---

    That battery was dead big time with a dead short across it.

    After I upsized to the maximum sized battery for the tray, never had a battery problem again after going through 5 in 3 years.

    ---

    And people though I was nuts later when I refused to jump a battery with a cracked top case, until the crack was patched.

    The gas is explosive...
     
  5. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

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    #5
    ^^ Hydrogen gas somewhat volatile, I had one blow up in my face, fortunately no permanent damage but it makes you wonder how moronic you have to be to lean over a recently heavily discharged lead acid battery with the vents open and a lit cigarette in your mouth.:eek:
     
  6. question fear thread starter macrumors 68020

    question fear

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    #6
    Well, I spoke to the mechanic's this morning. Apparently my alternater was overcharging the battery, hence the explosion. So I am getting a new alternater and a new battery...:rolleyes:

    I called the dealership my car came from since my parents have been buying from them for years, and they confirmed that it was a plausible cause/effect, and that the price the service station quoted me was competitive. So I don't feel like I'm being ripped off. And the new alternater comes with a lifetime warranty.

    Sigh...
     
  7. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

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    #7
    I always liked the old alternator with external voltage regulators.

    Made fixing the situation rather easy, unless there is a short in the alternator or wiring.
     
  8. Done-on-a-Mac macrumors member

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    Apr 1, 2006
    #8
    Had this happen to ex's father. It really messed up his face because he was working under the hood trying to get a car started. He works on classic cars & had rebuilt the engine. A friend of his started the car but the battery exploded pretty much in his face. The acid has left scars.

    Be careful. Even new batteries can explode if there is an oxygen build up inside the battery. The chemical reaction between the acid & the lead plates creates oxygen. Though batteries do have vents on the top, if they ever get plugged up with debris it could be bad. When the vents are plugged, oxygen builds up & if a spark between the lead plates occurs the result is an explosion with acid & plastic flying everywhere.

    Scott
     
  9. jaydub macrumors 6502a

    jaydub

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    #9
    I've always been wary of traditional batteries, so for the past few years I've only used Optima batteries, they're sealed.
     
  10. question fear thread starter macrumors 68020

    question fear

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    #10
    Alrighty, here's a pic. The mechanics left the battery out so I had to snap a shot. It looks pretty much like it did last night, that's basically what I saw (minus smoke and such) when I popped the hood.

    According to the mechanic, he's been working on cars for 20+ years and said he's seen maybe 6 or 7 batteries do that when you start the car. My car better not be getting any more ideas on how to have "special" breakdowns.
     

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  11. Peneddy macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2013
    #11
    My dad was charging a 12 v battery on a tractor this morn and he tried to start it w charger still on. It exploded! Luckily he was not hurt. He said it sounded like a shotgun. Not sure why this happend. Above Pic looks similar to his battery.
     
  12. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #12
    I haven't witnessed it firsthand but it happened to my wife once.
     
  13. smithrh macrumors 68020

    smithrh

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    #13
    Under certain conditions (overcharging is one of them), hydrogen gas gets generated in the battery through electrolysis.

    All it takes is a spark to set off the hydrogen, and boom, battery explodes, sending battery acid everywhere.

    Get battery acid in your eyes, you could very well be blinded permanently. I've seen this happen to someone and it's not good.

    Wear goggles/eye protection when working around non-sealed batteries.
     
  14. skottichan macrumors 6502a

    skottichan

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    Columbus, OH
    #14
    Wasn't there a big thing in the news about a Tesla's battery bursting into flames?

    Granted, I think the Tesla uses different type of batteries than the standard car battery.
     
  15. 4JNA, Oct 6, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2013

    4JNA macrumors 68000

    4JNA

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    #15
    THIS^^^ as it turns out, i've seen this in person. was working replacing a few lead acid batteries in a truck repair shop, there was an explosion, and i still have the scars on my left side to prove it. was lucky to be wearing goggles and safety gear, but still got sprayed pretty good. ran to the wash bay and quick washed down with water, but lost a lot of skin and my shirt and pants were destroyed. not a happy memory. pain and gauze. lots of both for a rather long time actually.

    a car did burn, but it had nothing to do with the batteries.
     
  16. kggf macrumors newbie

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    Aug 29, 2008
    #16
    Car Batteries that are shorted will go Boom, Laptop batteries may not look it, but they can cause a pretty good explosion.
     
  17. Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

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    #17
    About 30 years ago I was hooking jumper cables to an almost dead car battery that blew up in my face. :eek: No physical damage, just exposure to acid. Fortunately the water hose was nearby and I washed my face and arms without dire consequences although I ended up with small holes in my shirt and jeans. I believe the right way to hook up jumpers is to connect to the dead battery first, and then to the battery of the car providing the jump, ideally averting one's face... :p
     
  18. localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #18
    Safest way: (1) Connect the positive (+) terminals of both batteries via one jumper cable (2) Connect one end of the other jumper cable to the negative (-) terminal of the battery in the car providing the jump (3) complete the circuit by attaching the last cable clamp to the frame or engine-frame of the car, at a point some distance from the battery. In other words, don't make the last connection at the battery terminal (of the dead car) because making sparks near auto batteries should be avoided.
     
  19. Huntn, Oct 9, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2013

    Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

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    #19
    I agree that is the spark in close proximity ro battery fumes causes the explosion. This link confirms what you are saying.
     
  20. Kissaragi macrumors 68020

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  21. Gregg2 macrumors 603

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    Milwaukee, WI
    #21
    I've heard that the batteries in hybrid vehicles can be dangerous in the aftermath of an accident. First responders have to be very careful when approaching such a car. Don't know much more about it than that though.
     

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