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Old 04-28-2019, 04:09 PM   #1
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OEM Mercedes wet battery to AGM battery

Are there any issues replacing the chassis OEM wet battery with an AGM battery? The chassis battery in my 2019 Interstate was bad so I replaced it with an AGM battery. There is now a clicking sound every 45 seconds near the drivers side rear where all the electronic equipment is located. It seems to be charging OK for both the 4 house batteries and the chassis battery when on shore power or solar, but the clicking noise is annoying. It only started after I replaced the battery which may be coincidence or not. I read that the solar charge controller may cycle every 4 or 5 minutes (which I never noticed before) but now something is cycling every 45 seconds.
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Old 04-28-2019, 05:18 PM   #2
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The Battery Isolation Manager may be cycling - comparing house versus chassis battery voltage. Having both coach and chassis batteries be AGM may cause it to behave differently. My BIM is under the rear couch - not sure where yours is.
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Old 04-28-2019, 05:25 PM   #3
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Ok...I did some tests:
1) I shut off the power to the house batteries: clicking still occurs

2) Surprise: I pulled off the ground for the chassis battery at the accelerator pedal: The chassis battery was still supplying power....it did not disconnect. The display showed voltage for both the house and chassis batteries. The clicking still occurs

3) I took another look at the chassis battery and remembered that there is a black cable with a big in line fuse that connects to the positive terminal through another positive battery post. That killed the chassis battery according to the display and the clicking stopped.

4) I reconnected the second connection to the positive battery post and kept the chassis battery disconnected with the ground left off. The display showed that it remained disconnected with No clicking

5) I reconnected the ground by the accelerator pedal and the chassis battery was reconnected. The clicking started again.

6) I started the engine and the chassis battery showed 14.4 volts but the house batteries remained the same at 12.8 volts, meaning the alternator was not charging the house batteries under those conditions. Don't know if it would have charged the house batteries if the voltage had been low.

Conclusion so far: it may be that the switch that links the house and chassis battery may be bad. Then again, that may not be the case. Very confusing.
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Old 04-28-2019, 05:27 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Titus View Post
The Battery Isolation Manager may be cycling - comparing house versus chassis battery voltage. Having both coach and chassis batteries be AGM may cause it to behave differently. My BIM is under the rear couch - not sure where yours is.
How do you access the BIM under the couch? My sound seems like it is coming from there.
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Old 04-28-2019, 05:30 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Mikemdd View Post
Are there any issues replacing the chassis OEM wet battery with an AGM battery? The chassis battery in my 2019 Interstate was bad so I replaced it with an AGM battery. There is now a clicking sound every 45 seconds near the drivers side rear where all the electronic equipment is located. It seems to be charging OK for both the 4 house batteries and the chassis battery when on shore power or solar, but the clicking noise is annoying. It only started after I replaced the battery which may be coincidence or not. I read that the solar charge controller may cycle every 4 or 5 minutes (which I never noticed before) but now something is cycling every 45 seconds.
What brand of batteries came with your 2019 Interstate? What makes you think they are wet cell batteries? Isn't your coach still under warranty?

Airstream has been installing Lifeline brand AGM batteries for many years. The late model Interstates have batteries mounted under van on their side. Only AGM batteries can be installed on their side - wet batteries can't be mounted on their side.
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Old 04-28-2019, 05:43 PM   #6
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What brand of batteries came with your 2019 Interstate? What makes you think they are wet cell batteries? Isn't your coach still under warranty?

Airstream has been installing Lifeline brand AGM batteries for many years. The late model Interstates have batteries mounted under van on their side. Only AGM batteries can be installed on their side - wet batteries can't be mounted on their side.
It has 4 Lifeline batteries for the house. The chassis (starting) battery is in the front under the drivers floor board. It was an OEM Mercedes battery and was a wet cell for sure.
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Old 04-28-2019, 07:43 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Mikemdd View Post
It has 4 Lifeline batteries for the house. The chassis (starting) battery is in the front under the drivers floor board. It was an OEM Mercedes battery and was a wet cell for sure.
Oops! My mistake you are talking about the chassis battery - I commented on the house batteries. You might have a loose wire on the BIM. I had similar problem on my Interstate and the source was a loose wire on the BIM relay. The issue didn't start until I had the van for many months.

If you have a lounge model the BIM is under the rear lounge seat. You have to remove the seat bottom (difficult) or the back panel enclosing the area under the seat (easier).

If you are close to your dealer I would be wise to have them check it.

Good luck - sorry for my confusion.
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Old 04-29-2019, 07:52 AM   #8
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Interblog has explained how to get to the BIM. I have always removed the seat. Four nuts from the rear of the coach - two on the seat back and two on the seat bottom - and two machine bolts/nuts inside the coach (front side) of the seat bottom. I have not tried to remove the back panel. It may be easy to remove, but I think you'd have a very difficult time getting to the BIM once it is removed. My Magnum is attached to the back panel, and I am not sure how much you can move the panel with the Magnum attached to it.

There is a fuse block on the side of my chassis battery, and one of these fuses (150A or 180A?) feeds a red (if I remember correctly) cable that goes to the BIM. I think chassis is the negative of all batteries (coach and chassis), and I believe that any black cable you find simply goes to chassis ground. I suppose you could disconnect the BIM by removing the appropriate black cable, but I think the better(?) way to do so is to disconnect the red cable(s). If I recall, the only large cables going to/from the BIM are red (positive). I believe that the disconnect at the accelerator is only for the chassis battery. The only time I have disconnected it is for winter storage, and by the time I disconnect it I have already removed the coach batteries. So I cannot say what the accelerator disconnect does as far as the coach batteries - but I suspect 'nothing'.
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Old 04-29-2019, 08:50 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Titus View Post
Interblog has explained how to get to the BIM. I have always removed the seat. Four nuts from the rear of the coach - two on the seat back and two on the seat bottom - and two machine bolts/nuts inside the coach (front side) of the seat bottom. I have not tried to remove the back panel. It may be easy to remove, but I think you'd have a very difficult time getting to the BIM once it is removed. My Magnum is attached to the back panel, and I am not sure how much you can move the panel with the Magnum attached to it.

There is a fuse block on the side of my chassis battery, and one of these fuses (150A or 180A?) feeds a red (if I remember correctly) cable that goes to the BIM. I think chassis is the negative of all batteries (coach and chassis), and I believe that any black cable you find simply goes to chassis ground. I suppose you could disconnect the BIM by removing the appropriate black cable, but I think the better(?) way to do so is to disconnect the red cable(s). If I recall, the only large cables going to/from the BIM are red (positive). I believe that the disconnect at the accelerator is only for the chassis battery. The only time I have disconnected it is for winter storage, and by the time I disconnect it I have already removed the coach batteries. So I cannot say what the accelerator disconnect does as far as the coach batteries - but I suspect 'nothing'.
Thanks for the good response(s). A few comments:
- I have a 2019 Slate Edition which I think has a different bed in the back (the one they will be using on 2020 models). I will need to look and see how it compares to your good description.
- All black cables I have seen always go to ground. However, on my chassis battery, there is a black cable that is fused that goes to a second positive battery terminal, linked to the battery positive post. Very strange they would use a black cable going to a positive terminal. This cable clearly operates the BIM, because when I detach it, the clicking stops.
- Yes, the disconnect at the accelerator pedal (which is the cable connected to the battery negative terminal) just disconnects the chassis (starting) battery and has no impact on the house batteries.

I have exchanged the new AGM (deep cycle) battery for a new wet cell battery, which is what was in it from the factory. I will install it today and see what that does. I am "hopeful" that will solve the problem. Gel and wet cell batteries do have different charging characteristics so maybe the BIM somehow knows this (?). Anyway, fingers crossed. If it does not solve the problem, at least I have taken the AGM/Wet Cell question off the table. Wish me luck.
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Old 04-29-2019, 10:18 AM   #10
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Good Luck
From memory, the BIM (and other) fuses on the chassis battery are on a copper (I think) fitting that' hangs down' from the positive terminal. The main red cable on the chassis battery is connected on top of this 'hanging down' fitting. Maybe on later Sprinters this 'hanging down' fitting is replaced with a black cable leading to what you call the second positive terminal. And maybe my multiple fuses on the hanging down piece are replaced with a single fuse in your black cable. I don't recall where the other fused wires on my 'hanging down' piece go to (maybe they feed other fuse panels in the Sprinter?) - I just remember that one goes to the BIM.
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Old 04-29-2019, 02:45 PM   #11
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FIXED! Apparently, the BIM does not play well with the AGM chassis/starting battery. I replaced the AGM with a wet cell battery and no more clicking. Actually, it did click every minute or so for about an hour, then stopped and all looks good now. Very happy camper (no pun intended) for sure.
With regards to the second connection on the positive terminal, here is a picture of the setup on the OEM battery before I replaced it. The black cable to the second positive terminal blends in, but you can see it clearly when you look close. It has a fuse attached to it. Just FYI. It is raining right now so I have not crawled underneath the coach. However, it really seems like the BIM is underneath (outside) and not under the couch. The 2019's do have 4 batteries now and the Slate edition is different in many ways to the previous years...looks like a preamble to the 2020 models. Anyway, it is not clicking now but I will look later. Again, at least in my case, it does look like replacing the wet cell starting battery with an AGM is not a good idea. Cheers!
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Old 04-29-2019, 05:15 PM   #12
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Ai oem

Mike.....it kinda seems that the AS enjuneers knew something about the agm chassis issue......so they stayed with older gel tech.....my $0.02
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Old 04-29-2019, 06:49 PM   #13
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Glad to hear you are now click-less. Been a long time since I've looked at my chassis battery... I remember the terminal and copper strip on the left, but not the stuff in the middle.
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Old 04-29-2019, 08:37 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Mikemdd View Post
It has 4 Lifeline batteries for the house. The chassis (starting) battery is in the front under the drivers floor board. It was an OEM Mercedes battery and was a wet cell for sure.
That's a surprise. My Group 49 OEM Mercedes battery— and the replacement I bought two years ago due to the original's age— were gel-cell batteries, not wet cell or AGM.
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Old 04-30-2019, 07:59 AM   #15
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That's a surprise. My Group 49 OEM Mercedes battery— and the replacement I bought two years ago due to the original's age— were gel-cell batteries, not wet cell or AGM.
I agree - the standard 12V/100Ah battery delivered in Sprinters is not a wet cell. It is a maintenance free battery under the driver's seat floor. It is not easy to access so Mercedes uses maintenance free (gel cell) batteries. The optional Sprinter battery is a 12V/95Ah AGM battery.

I doubt there was any engineering involved in Airstream's choice to stay with the standard battery, rather than pay extra for the AGM battery option.
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Old 04-30-2019, 11:15 AM   #16
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I wonder if having switched to the BlueSea ACR will avoid me having a similar experience.

I would prefer having an AGM battery in there as well...

Mikemdd, thank you for the thread, and glad you were able to get rid of that clicking sound
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Old 04-30-2019, 02:01 PM   #17
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I agree - the standard 12V/100Ah battery delivered in Sprinters is not a wet cell. It is a maintenance free battery under the driver's seat floor. It is not easy to access so Mercedes uses maintenance free (gel cell) batteries. The optional Sprinter battery is a 12V/95Ah AGM battery.

I doubt there was any engineering involved in Airstream's choice to stay with the standard battery, rather than pay extra for the AGM battery option.
If you look at the picture of the battery I posted, you will see a window that shows the acid level which changes appearance when low on acid. It also has a drain hose on the side that goes to drain. Terminology today is confusing, but it definitely is a wet cell of some type.
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Old 04-30-2019, 02:08 PM   #18
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I wonder if having switched to the BlueSea ACR will avoid me having a similar experience.

I would prefer having an AGM battery in there as well...

Mikemdd, thank you for the thread, and glad you were able to get rid of that clicking sound
Another BIM type may work differently that what came in my 2019 IS Slate. As I mentioned earlier, it seemed to be working ok, but was constantly comparing the house and chassis battery. Since I replaced the AGM with the non-AGM battery, the solenoid has stopped cycling. It is working as original, charging each battery bank as designed. It seems to not be an issue of "working" but rather just confused on synchronization. That may not be the correct conclusion, but the AGM for sure caused solenoid cycling issues.
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Old 04-30-2019, 05:28 PM   #19
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If you look at the picture of the battery I posted, you will see a window that shows the acid level which changes appearance when low on acid. It also has a drain hose on the side that goes to drain. Terminology today is confusing, but it definitely is a wet cell of some type.
Unless the drain hose goes UP to vent hydrogen, it is NOT a wet cell. No wet-cell battery is designed with an acid drain, because spilled acid is hazardous and will damage whatever it drains into or onto!
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Old 04-30-2019, 08:49 PM   #20
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If you look at the picture of the battery I posted, you will see a window that shows the acid level which changes appearance when low on acid. It also has a drain hose on the side that goes to drain. Terminology today is confusing, but it definitely is a wet cell of some type.
I did a bit more research and stand corrected. These are not GEL batteries. This question was discussed on the Sprinter-Source forum in a thread that started in 2014. Some thought it was GEL, but the conclusion was they are maintenance free flooded batteries.

https://sprinter-source.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=37029

Post #21 in this thread identifies the correct battery as a VARTA conventional flooded battery that uses Calcium/Calcium grid alloy that it is less prone to water loss, gassing rates. It is a sealed maintenance fee battery that has a acid level indicator to tell you when it needs to be replaced. The cell caps are not accessible.

https://www.varta-automotive.com/en-...ck/600-123-072

This Australian paper explains the Calcium/Calcium battery technology.

https://www.centurybatteries.com.au/...ium-batter.pdf

Still learning something new every day...

MIKEMDD - I hope you replaced the battery with a sealed maintenance free battery like the original as this battery location is not designed for routine maintenance like a conventional flooded battery.
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