Given your battery only had 10.9V but you were able to drive for 98 miles without the car dying, it seemed the alternator was generating electricity when engine was running. If the alternator is normal, you probably have a dead battery as it cannot store the electricity generated.
sometime in the past, either the battery was left draining to empty and damaged the electrodes/electrolytes or it was defective from factory. Trickle charger wont revive a dead battery. probably need a new battery.
Los - i think you are spot on. In fact, this was my assumption from the beginning. It was nice to hear a few people offer up the same opinion without my prompting for it - now i just have to figure out how to get the dealership to replace it under warranty - whether Lotus pays or they do.
I would also pick up a small lipo jump starter to keep in the car. Pretty popular with my friend whose Maserati is temperamental with its electronics.
Great idea - but not the ultimate solution. A great confidence booster, though, for when i get a new battery installed! Thanks for the idea.
I suspect (and have since I took delivery of my car) that a combination of high parasitic draw coupled with sitting around on a dealer's lot for a few months frequently can result in the original buyer getting an already weakened battery. My car exhibits low voltage symptoms within a short time, perhaps as little as a five days to a week, if left without a charger.
As oldmansan mentioned, testing a battery by measuring resting voltage tells us very little since surface voltage isn't representative of the actual current delivery under load. Just turning on your headlights while measuring may result in a more accurate reading but as was also mentioned, a trip to an auto supply store that has a battery tester will answer a lot of questions since most of us have no way to put a measured load on the battery. I suspect you won't have to go past testing the battery to find an answer but either way, you'll be pointed down the right path.
Lotusquacious, Your response was the most eloquent and thoughtful of all... You are right on all accounts. Indeed, i did take much more data than what i mentioned in the post. I did not want to be overly loquacious, though... as i am oft accused of this! The initial Fluke 179 DMM readings of 10.9V were indeed *unloaded* (i'll speak to this later), but other measurements found that:
With engine running (after a jump), alternator read 13.7V with as low a load as possible
With engine running, fan, radio, seat warmers turned on (i.e. a higher load) alternator read 13.3V
Highest voltage seen while running - 13.9V while revs were fairly high for a sustained period. Reading not from the Fluke, but from a cheap LED voltage monitor plugged into the 12V
adapter in the cabin... soo....
Conclusion: alternator is good - and the voltage is seen at the battery terminals, not just the lugs connecting the cables (i.e. ruling out parasitics owing to corrosion of the lugs).
I did want some external validation to the theory that the battery is not properly holding a charge, though. Thanks for helping with that!
Put the meter on the battery posts when engine is running to see if alternator is actually charging.
To ensure connections are good, put meter across posts, then clamps; should be equal.
Check ground from battery and ground from engine.
This is great advice, and i've instinctually already done so, but i understand that it is worth mentioning.
Do you have any attorney friends? They will probably not be able to help fix the car, but that dealership is atrocious, and they could help with that. A sale and accompanying warranty constitute a bilateral agreement (at least here in Louisiana)...
...BTW: what dealership are we talking about?
This actually comes close to the advice i was most interested in... I'm certain the battery in my car, as delivered was not to spec. Sub par. Less than nominal. In only two weeks, it left me stranded the first time. As Lotusquacious would mention, i do not technically have the equipment to prove it. Evidently, they couldn't prove that the battery was faulty either. Does the dealership owe me a properly functioning battery that can hold a charge overnight without a battery tender hooked up at their own cost? They offered to put a new one in, for full list price and around $200 an hour.
So my big question really was - do i just go out and buy one myself and forget about this mess - or - do i push back and try to "make" them do it without my wallet? But then again, there could be something obvious that i've missed... so i posted the question.
Have you replaced the OEM battery? If it has been drained even once, I'd replace it, and it sounds like it may have been drained more than once? Second, make sure the trunk lid is firmly closed. Even with a trickle charger, the battery can drain if the trunk light is on - don't ask me how I know this! If you have trouble making sure it's latched, have the dealer adjust the latch. It's still a tricky thing (has been posted about here before).
And this was the kind of thing that i was thinking that i may have missed - so thank you, Dylan. When the battery failed to charge on Saturday, i pulled out the trunk lamps when i made it home - perhaps because of your posting of this problem before? Perhaps it was someone else, but - i put it on the charger, and the next day (super bowl sunday), it happened again. I drove to a friends house expecting this problem, though - so prepared with jumper cables. Same results all around. Almost certainly a battery that won't keep a charge, the alternator is quite well.
How does someone end up owning a Lotus while not knowing how to test a battery under load?
This is the response that had me, honestly, a bit peeved. Is this directed at the OP - i.e. myself? If not - i apologize to you for my being peeved! If it *was* directed at me, i apologize to everyone else for feeding a troll. I expected Oldmansan (or someone like him) to educate everyone who trusts an unloaded battery voltage measurement. But clearly, i did not *just* measure the battery unloaded. My next few words described the voltage as the battery was being loaded during cranking. Doesn't that seem like the description of what a person who understands how to measure voltage on a battery would do? Again, i knew some people would want to point this out - and Oldmansan, to his credit, responded to my second measurement of the battery during a load and agreed with me that it was too low. You, on the other hand, don't offer any insight and did not even seem to read the original post.
That said, if you came across a 9V in your kitchen drawer - wouldn't you pull out a DMM and see if it even reads close to 9V unloaded? Yeah, of course you would. Unless you want to claim that you are so awesome that you test it on your tongue first. Fine. If it doesn't shock your tongue, or if it reads below 7V - wouldn't you conclude the battery was junked? Of course you would.
Same thing here. My car didn't turn over. I had a decent meter with me. I checked the resting voltage and it was obviously too low.
While stranded in the parking lot of a store, i did not happen to have my clamping meter leads, so i could not check voltage at the battery posts *while* cranking with a good DMM. Is that a surprise? It then occurred to me that i had a cheap USB charging port in my glove box with a voltage readout. While not exactly calibrated, 'tis what i used to watch the drop during cranking. So i gathered the data as i could.
Thanks kindly to everyone else for your input!