5 Things That May Cause Your Battery To Die Quickly
It hasn’t been long since you last rode your motorcycle. Today you pushed the start button and heard the dreaded ‘click’ sound. Yes, batteries do lose charge after a few months but why is your motorcycle battery dead after 2 weeks? Read on to find out why this could happen.
Although it is usually an unpleasant experience, it is not out of the ordinary for a motorcycle battery to die if the bike has not been used for a while. Even a good quality, healthy battery will eventually dies after about 4 months.
There are however, instances when a motorcycle battery dies after a week or two. It should be able to last much longer than that so why does this happen?
It is most often caused by a parasitic drain on the battery by one of the appliances or a battery which was faulty from the point of purchase. It could also happen when the battery is old and nearing the end of its life or when there is a lose connection somewhere. We cannot rule out elements of human error such as forgetting to turn off the ignition.
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What Is Normal and What Is Not?
Let’s start by establishing what is generally considered normal battery behavior. When a motorcycle battery is left unused for an extended period of time, it loses all its charge and eventually dies. This is thanks to a natural process called self- discharge.
Typical self-discharge rates are about 1% per day depending on the type of battery. Owners say their motorcycle batteries generally die after 2 to 4 months if they are not charged. Newer batteries can last longer (up to 5 months) and older batteries don’t last as long as they stay ‘alive’ for 1 to 2 months.
From this we can see that a battery which dies after being left unused for only 2 weeks is definitely cause for concern. It should be able to last longer than that.
5 Things To Check On Your Battery
Here are 5 ideas for you to look at to give you a thought of how they would look in your home.
Motorcycle Battery Dead After 2 Weeks
A motorcycle battery which dies after only 2 weeks is a sign of a problem in the electrical system or a problem with the individual battery. These are some possibilities to consider.
1. Parasitic Draw
This is perhaps the most likely reason for a dead battery if it has been only 2 weeks since it was last charged. Parasitic draw or drain in a battery happens when there is an abnormal and continuous drain of power from the battery even after the engine has been turned off. It may be caused by a short circuit or an electrical component such as lights, clock, alarm or any other appliance which draws power from the battery.
Some Types of Motorcycle Alarms Are Notorious for This.
Testing for parasitic draw: For this you will need a multimeter. This is a fairly inexpensive device used to measure voltage in a battery. Make sure the engine is off. Remove the negative battery cable then place the multimeter leads between the negative battery terminal and the negative cable.
This should give you the current draw when the engine is off. Ideally it should be at zero. You may get a reading of a few milliamps but that is considered normal. If the reading is more than one amp, there is an abnormal drain somewhere.
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2. Inability to Hold Charge
As a battery gets older, it gradually loses its ability to hold charge. It may have been fully charged when you parked two weeks ago but it cannot retain it like it used to. The self-discharge rate mentioned in the case of a normal battery is now much faster. At the end of the day you have a dead battery even if the bike has not moved an inch.
This is a sign that it is time to buy a new battery. You could try to revive it by replacing the electrolyte with an Epsom salt solution and charging it up again. Even if this works, it is not a permanent solution. It only buys you some time.
3. Bad Battery
Your battery is brand new. You bought it two weeks ago and now the engine won’t start. This probably means you got a bad battery which should be returned to the dealer for replacement. Although it doesn’t happen often, there are instances when the battery has a factory defect causing it to fail.
It is cases like these which remind you just how helpful warranties can be. If there was a warranty on the battery, it should not be difficult to get a replacement. If you bought the battery from a reputable dealer, they will be happy to check it, confirm that it is indeed faulty and replace it.
Caution when buying batteries: Sometimes you can tell a bad battery just by its appearance. Some physical signs of a bad battery include:
- A bulge or bulges in the case
- Damaged terminal
- Raptured or cracked case
- Leaking (excessive)
4. Loose Battery Connections
Lose connections don’t actually drain the battery but they could be responsible for a dead battery after staying parked away for only 2 weeks. Lose connections may not cause the battery to lose charge directly but they can prevent it from receiving charge from the alternator.
Let’s assume you took a ride on your bike with several stops 2 weeks ago. After that you parked it and it hasn’t moved since. If there was a lose battery connection, it means the battery was not getting properly re-charged by the alternator as you rode. By the time you parked, the battery was already low on charge. Self-discharge in the 2 weeks run it dry because it was low to begin with.
Make a point to check the battery connections every now and then. You may be able to catch a problem before it causes any serious issues. Sometimes the cable just won’t hold tight no matter how hard you try to tighten it. If this is the problem, consider buying new cables.
5. Left Ignition on
Yes, it sounds like a pretty stupid mistake to make but it does happen; even to the best, most experienced riders. You are especially prone to this if your bike is the kind which allows you to take the key out while the engine is still in ‘ACC’ mode.
If you happened to make this mistake when you parked your bike 2 weeks ago, your battery was probably dead a few hours later.
When this happens, the best option is to charge the battery with a charger slightly more powerful than a trickle charger. A trickle charger may not be able to charge a fully discharged battery. Your battery will very likely come back to life but you will have diminished its overall lifespan a notch.
Motorcycle batteries are not much different from car batteries. Extended periods of time without use eventually cause them to die. Sometimes these same symptoms are observed even when it has been a couple of days or so.
A motorcycle battery which is dead after 2 weeks is no doubt a red light calling you to look into the overall health of the battery and check on the electrical components it powers.