The Battery Doctor and the Wine Bar Owner

For the past few days we have been having problems with the main battery on the Defender. We can get the battery charged whilst driving it but, after it has been parked for more than 12 hours, the battery goes flat and we have to use jumper cables to the auxiliary battery to get started in the morning. We’ve considered the possibility of a short in the circuit and the possibility that the battery is dead.

When we arrived in Saratov, we explained the situation to the hotel reception with a view to having them translate on the phone to a local battery dealer. Instead, they made a call and told us that someone would come to the hotel in 30 minutes. Impressed, we went to our room and awaited the call.

As promised, the local ‘battery doctor’ came to the hotel in his vehicle (battery doctor written on the side with two dummy car batteries taped to his roof bars). He tested both batteries and said that they were both good. The owner of the wine bar (attached to the hotel) came by and translated for us to explain what had been happening. The ‘doctor’ then asked me to start the engine and he tested the voltage at the batteries again, this time with the engine running and the headlights switched on. He then stated that the generator (alternator) has a bit of a problem – it is giving power but not full power. The suggestion is that the alternator is providing some power to the battery but not enough to fully charge it. He suggested that the ‘generator’ may need to be replaced.

As luck would have it, the wine bar owner is a friend of the general manager of the Land Rover dealership in Saratov. What are the chances of that? He called to see if we could get the vehicle into the LR service centre but their electrical specialist is out of town in Moscow attending a course. Our luck had quickly run out!

The ‘doctor’ called another local electrics specialist to see if he could do it but it seems that the job is too large/complicated for anyone in Saratov. The ‘doctor’ told the wine bar owner that he has never seen a battery/split charge/solar system like mine in his lifetime! Very complicated!

Underseat battery box - two Optima batteries, solar panel regulator, split charge system
Underseat battery box – two Optima batteries, solar panel regulator, split charge system

The wine bar owner (who doesn’t drink alcohol, by the way) agreed with our suggestion that we take it to a LR dealer in Samara, which is a bigger city than Saratov.

So the quest for a solution continues. In the morning, we will use the jumper cables again to get started and the vehicle will be good for the rest of the day. Hopefully we will be able to find a solution in Samara.


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