The past few days have been rather testing as we’ve tried to diagnose and solve the problem we’ve been having with the Defender’s main starter battery. The starter battery has been draining overnight so that each morning we have to use jumper cables from the auxiliary battery (that powers the fridge). Initial thoughts were that we had a short circuit somewhere. Then we figured the Optima battery had either gone bad or developed a ‘false memory’ (a known problem with Optimas) so that it only accepted a partial charge, which was not enough to maintain a charge through the night. Then the battery guy in Saratov gave us suspect information about the alternator being defective.
Based on the advice we’ve received from David and Matt (my trusted friends and Land Rover experts), we’ve concluded that the most likely cause of the problem is the battery being defective. This morning we had the hotel receptionist call the local Land Rover dealer to try to get them to install a new battery but they didn’t have any in stock. A Google search in Russia pulls up all sorts of unrelated hits and nothing I entered would show local battery suppliers. Very frustrating!
As it happens, a friend of a friend of Klaus is currently serving in Samara as a priest. Klaus was able to reach out to her and she sent a driver to pick us up and take us to the church. One of the church staff members then took down details of the battery that we needed and made some calls to local suppliers. Once a supplier with the correct battery was identified, we were driven to the shop so that we could check what they had. The church definitely came to the rescue today and those who know me will realise how ironic that is!
We were able to buy a battery that met the required specs. It was a bit larger in size than the Optima battery, but based on the measurements I’d taken of the battery box, I figured it would fit. We bought the battery and were driven back to the hotel. I then fitted the battery myself. It was a tight fit, but I was able to get the new battery installed. The engine fired up without a problem. Now, the final test will be whether the battery holds its charge over the coming days.
I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’ve solved the problem. Time will tell!