Makita 18V LXT batteries....

maverick

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Apr 9, 2004
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Hong Kong
I have a few Makita 18V LXT Li-Ion cordless power tools. Recently, one of my battery packs wouldn't take a charge using the default charger. Since the battery is out of warranty anyway, I plan to take the battery apart to have a look when I get the time. Does anyone here know what type of cells Makita uses to build these packs? I saw a video on YouTube of someone taking one apart and know that there are 10 cylindrical cells in a 5S, 2P configuration. If the fault is the result of one or two dead cells, would it be as simple as replacing those cells? The thing I'm most unsure about is whether or not the charger will reject the new cell(s) inside the pack since Makita claims that the charger communicates with the pack when charging.

On a different note, my cheapo no-brand multimeter just died on me and I'm looking for a replacement for it. I want to step up to a Fluke but find myself inundated with different model choices. I don't mind spending more for extra features so as to be sure I won't need upgrade if/when I decide to get more involved in electronics. I would appreciate any recommendations.
 

Alan B

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Makita reportedly uses Sony Konion LiMn cells. Generally it is the first pair. There are 10each 18650 cells in 5S2P.

Replacing the first two cells is possible, and has been done. I found a video about it on Utube. Not a lot of detail on replacement but lots of info about taking the pack apart.

The problem is the battery memory chip tells the charger the pack was bad. Once that happens it is not clear how to get it to try charging again. You could charge with some other charger. But if the memory on the battery tells the Makita charger the pack was bad it apparently won't try to charge it any more.

I have not verified this but there is lots of info on some of the eBike forums on these batteries.
 

abarth_1200

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I have found a few 'dead' makita 18V LXT batteries on ebay for cheap, is it maybe worth while getting one and bump starting it, with a higher voltage.

I have succesfully done this with one of my AW cells that went dead and read zero on my volt meter, I just zapped it with a 9V battery and its fine now, holds its charge well and takes the usuall time to recharge.
 

joegreen42

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I have successfully repaired a Makita LXT 3 AH pack by replacing the dead cells with good cells from a donor pack. The battery memory chip prevents the pack from being charged from a Makita charger but you can use a charger that terminates at 21vdc. I took my repaired pack to Makita's headquarters in La Mirada, CA. They had no way to reset it and offered no other advice.
 

TheEpeter

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Oct 10, 2011
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This thread is exactly why I signed up for this forum! Awesome!

Now, has anyone figured out how to "fix" or replace the memory chip so that you can replace the cells and then reuse the battery in the charger?

Also, is there a way that any of us knows about to remove any memory restrictions?

I ask because my father used the fully charged batteries for about 5-10 minutes each then threw them back on the charger. Now they only hold a charge for 5-10 minutes of power which sux. I'd rather not have to replace them. If I could just hack the chip and reset the memory values, that'd be best/easiest.
 

Toolmon

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Oct 23, 2011
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I did a lot of research on the net about early failure of Makita lithium batteries. My conclusion: this
battery has design flaw that shuts down these batteries prematurely.  If the battery sits discharged for a long
time, it's very likely to spuriously fail.  The symptom is flashing red and green lights on the charger, for a battery with infrequent use.  [This is not the same as an actual worn out battery that is several years old and has many charges on it, say 500 charges or more.  That is normal wearout, not the premature failure I mentioned.  See below for some ways to fix a worn out battery.]<br><br>The good news is Makita will replace the battery free if it has a low charge count (for sure under 150, some say under 300), regardless of warranty.  The bad news is you lose time and money dealing with it, and a lot of people don't know about the free replacements. Makita should recall the batteries, but they are quietly ignoring the problem.  Most people just buy a new battery, so Makita has a conflict of interest here.  Most of my power tools are Makita, and they usually last for years, top quality.   I'm very surprised at the way Makita is (not) dealing with this lemon.<br><br>Background: Lithium batteries
can burn or explode if abused. They need monitoring, for safety reasons.
So Makita put in a smart control board in the battery
pack. The control board monitors charging voltage, current, battery
temperature, number of charges, and remembers all that. Good idea,
right? But.. there is a design bug. The battery control board draws
power only from the first cell of the 5 cells in the battery. If you
leave it sitting for a while, the control board will deep discharge that
first cell to zero, while the others remain charged. To the control
board or possibly the charger, that looks like a shorted cell, which
could overheat, and the control board remembers it.  If you try to charge
it more than 3 times with an apparently deep discharged cell, the conservative software in the control board locks the battery permanently! The
control board tells the Makita charger that the battery is unsafe to charge,
and prevents charging in the Makita charger.  Once "bricked", the battery cannot be reset.<br><br>This is a design bug.  The
key evidence is the apparent dead cell is almost always that first cell, the
one that powers the control board.  Once locked, the control board can't be reset.  This problem is so common that Makita Service Centers will replace your dead battery if it shows very low usage, under 150 charges, regardless of warranty status.  So, they know about the problem, but have not recalled the battery officially.  They let you buy a new battery instead!  That's not right.   We should not have to deal with premature failures
caused by a known design defect.  Who has time on the job, and who has
money to throw away?<br>
<br>If you have a locked battery with low use, contact the Makita Service Center near you for a replacement.  If they won't replace it, it may still be usable.  The workaround is to charge it on third party chargers, that ignore
the control board. Aftermarket chargers cost about $60 on eBay, a lot less than a new battery.  They take longer to charge the battery, 2 hours instead of 20 minutes for the Makita charger.  No free lunch, but at least you can save your perfectly usable battery from landfill.<br><br>I can think of many engineering changes to fix this. For
example, Makita could reprogram the battery control board or charger so
it did not lock up a good battery, or the control board could draw power
from all 5 cells so this is less likely to happen to a single cell, or
use a separate coin cell for the control board, or ... well, as you can
see there are many technical options.  My point is that
Makita's engineers need to pick a solution and fix this problem.<br><br>This serious
problem has been identified, and it needs to be fixed. In my opinion,
Makita should recall these batteries and fix this problem, and release a revised battery design for new sales. If not, Makita's reputation will
continue to suffer, and there could be a class action lawsuit too.
Makita is infuriating customers and harming its reputation. <br>________________<br><br>Worn out lithium batteries:  If your batteries are many years old and have had a lot of use or been subjected to high heat, they could simply be worn out.  That's a different problem.  Lithium cells do wear out, and they also permanently lose capacity each year - about 20% per year, faster if stored hot.  Makita knows this and they derated these batteries to allow for shelf life.  The cells are actually good for 2400 Mah when new, but Makita rates them as 1500 Mah to be conservative.  <br><br>You can repair these batteries by replacing cells, either some or all.  Watch this youtube video on how to open the battery pack:  <br><br>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5taguEdlkY<br><br>The cells are Sony 18650 size in 2400 mah capacity.  These are not sold retail, only to manufacturers and repair centers.  You have to get them from another Makita pack, or many laptop batteries use them.  There are 5 in the 1815 battery, 10 in the 1830 battery.  If the failure is just in the first cell, I'd take it to Makita for possible replacement.  <br><br>You may be able to trickle charge a cell and bring the pack back to life.  The Tenergy Combo charger is a safe charger for this:<br>http://www.amazon.com/Combo-Special-Tenergy-Balance-Charger/dp/B00466PKE0<br><br>If more cells are bad, measure the voltage on each cell or cell pair,
and replace as needed.  If you have more than half bad, replace them
all, becasue the rest will go soon.  If you replace them all, they don't
have to be Sony, just any quality cell, 18650 size 2400 mah or better,
from a good maker.  You can find them on ebay.<br><br>Here is a website that deals with repairing an older NiCd pack.  The cells are different but the procedure is similar.  Good photos step by step:<br>http://www.kichline.com/chuck/fixit/makita/Default.htm<br><br><br> 
 

2saddlehorn

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Joined
Oct 17, 2012
Messages
2
I've been researching the Makita batteries for someone who tried to fix it himself. I saw your post and wanted to thank you for the information. Can Toolmon contact me directly for more detailed questions?
 

MakitaBatteryExpert

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Joined
Nov 24, 2012
Messages
1
I did a lot of research on the net about early failure of Makita lithium batteries. My conclusion: this
battery has design flaw that shuts down these batteries prematurely.  If the battery sits discharged for a long
time, it's very likely to spuriously fail.  The symptom is flashing red and green lights on the charger, for a battery with infrequent use.  [This is not the same as an actual worn out battery that is several years old and has many charges on it, say 500 charges or more.  That is normal wearout, not the premature failure I mentioned.  See below for some ways to fix a worn out battery.]<br><br>The good news is Makita will replace the battery free if it has a low charge count (for sure under 150, some say under 300), regardless of warranty.  The bad news is you lose time and money dealing with it, and a lot of people don't know about the free replacements. Makita should recall the batteries, but they are quietly ignoring the problem.  Most people just buy a new battery, so Makita has a conflict of interest here.  Most of my power tools are Makita, and they usually last for years, top quality.   I'm very surprised at the way Makita is (not) dealing with this lemon.<br><br>Background: Lithium batteries
can burn or explode if abused. They need monitoring, for safety reasons.
So Makita put in a smart control board in the battery
pack. The control board monitors charging voltage, current, battery
temperature, number of charges, and remembers all that. Good idea,
right? But.. there is a design bug. The battery control board draws
power only from the first cell of the 5 cells in the battery. If you
leave it sitting for a while, the control board will deep discharge that
first cell to zero, while the others remain charged. To the control
board or possibly the charger, that looks like a shorted cell, which
could overheat, and the control board remembers it.  If you try to charge
it more than 3 times with an apparently deep discharged cell, the conservative software in the control board locks the battery permanently! The
control board tells the Makita charger that the battery is unsafe to charge,
and prevents charging in the Makita charger.  Once "bricked", the battery cannot be reset.<br><br>This is a design bug.  The
key evidence is the apparent dead cell is almost always that first cell, the
one that powers the control board.  Once locked, the control board can't be reset.  This problem is so common that Makita Service Centers will replace your dead battery if it shows very low usage, under 150 charges, regardless of warranty status.  So, they know about the problem, but have not recalled the battery officially.  They let you buy a new battery instead!  That's not right.   We should not have to deal with premature failures
caused by a known design defect.  Who has time on the job, and who has
money to throw away?<br>
<br>If you have a locked battery with low use, contact the Makita Service Center near you for a replacement.  If they won't replace it, it may still be usable.  The workaround is to charge it on third party chargers, that ignore
the control board. Aftermarket chargers cost about $60 on eBay, a lot less than a new battery.  They take longer to charge the battery, 2 hours instead of 20 minutes for the Makita charger.  No free lunch, but at least you can save your perfectly usable battery from landfill.<br><br>I can think of many engineering changes to fix this. For
example, Makita could reprogram the battery control board or charger so
it did not lock up a good battery, or the control board could draw power
from all 5 cells so this is less likely to happen to a single cell, or
use a separate coin cell for the control board, or ... well, as you can
see there are many technical options.  My point is that
Makita's engineers need to pick a solution and fix this problem.<br><br>This serious
problem has been identified, and it needs to be fixed. In my opinion,
Makita should recall these batteries and fix this problem, and release a revised battery design for new sales. If not, Makita's reputation will
continue to suffer, and there could be a class action lawsuit too.
Makita is infuriating customers and harming its reputation. <br>________________<br><br>Worn out lithium batteries:  If your batteries are many years old and have had a lot of use or been subjected to high heat, they could simply be worn out.  That's a different problem.  Lithium cells do wear out, and they also permanently lose capacity each year - about 20% per year, faster if stored hot.  Makita knows this and they derated these batteries to allow for shelf life.  The cells are actually good for 2400 Mah when new, but Makita rates them as 1500 Mah to be conservative.  <br><br>You can repair these batteries by replacing cells, either some or all.  Watch this youtube video on how to open the battery pack:  <br><br>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5taguEdlkY<br><br>The cells are Sony 18650 size in 2400 mah capacity.  These are not sold retail, only to manufacturers and repair centers.  You have to get them from another Makita pack, or many laptop batteries use them.  There are 5 in the 1815 battery, 10 in the 1830 battery.  If the failure is just in the first cell, I'd take it to Makita for possible replacement.  <br><br>You may be able to trickle charge a cell and bring the pack back to life.  The Tenergy Combo charger is a safe charger for this:<br>http://www.amazon.com/Combo-Special-Tenergy-Balance-Charger/dp/B00466PKE0<br><br>If more cells are bad, measure the voltage on each cell or cell pair,
and replace as needed.  If you have more than half bad, replace them
all, becasue the rest will go soon.  If you replace them all, they don't
have to be Sony, just any quality cell, 18650 size 2400 mah or better,
from a good maker.  You can find them on ebay.<br><br>Here is a website that deals with repairing an older NiCd pack.  The cells are different but the procedure is similar.  Good photos step by step:<br>http://www.kichline.com/chuck/fixit/makita/Default.htm<br><br><br> 
Success! Thanks for the info. I was able successfully replace 2 of the defective cells from an original Makita BL1830 lithium battery. The trick is to replace as soon as the charger report an red-and-green warning light. If you tried to charge the defective battery for more than 3 times, it bricks the battery permanently and the only 2 ways now to fix that is to use a 3rd party Li-Ion charger or swap out the circuit board.
 

jbrett14

Enlightened
Joined
Feb 16, 2004
Messages
692
Location
Michigan
Does anyone know if there has been a lawsuit yet?

This has been a very informative thread. Thanks to all who posted.
 

nelstomlinson

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Aug 16, 2005
Messages
76
Could someone post a link to an aftermarket charger that will charge a bricked battery, please? Google doesn't seem to know about them.

Is there some way to get the Makita charger to ignore the chip in the battery pack? A switch to turn off that check would probably be cheaper than a second charger.
 

2saddlehorn

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Oct 17, 2012
Messages
2
Yes, there is pending investigation for a class action lawsuit. I would be interested to know if I can get direct contact information from anyone interested in recovering their losses on the battery. The more consumers who have evidence, the better likelihood of success on the case. If the moderator will allow it, I will be happy to post the status of the lawsuit and try to get those compensated who have a defective battery. I would need to have direct contact between me and the consumers.

Does anyone know if there has been a lawsuit yet?

This has been a very informative thread. Thanks to all who posted.
 

jcssj2

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Joined
Mar 22, 2013
Messages
1
For anyone interested, I had the internal pc board brick 3 of my LXT batteries. The interesting part is the cells aren't bad. No need to replace any of them. The problem is they won't charge in the factory charger ever again. To my understanding if you try to charge with the makita charger 3 times the battery will never charge in the makita charger again. These batteries take a charge and hold a charge and are usable. They just won't charge because of the internal chip. For future reference if anybody has a dead battery, take a good battery and use jumpers from the good battery to the bad one and they will take a charge. I just use a couple of 10mm or (1/4" if they aren't 2 thick) washers slipped in the clips and alligator clips to jump. It takes only about 5 minutes to recharge them like this. They will read 17+ volts that quick and will charge in the factory charger then.

PS Anybody have more information on a potential class action suit. I'm sitting here looking at 23 dead makita batteries (only 3 are the lxt, 12 Nimh, 8 Nicd just sat too long there is the same type of issue where the charger won't charge whether there are dead cells or not) and the fact that I have 3 good batteries that won't charge due to this design flaw on the LXT and lack of any kind of support or help from makita is intolerable.
 

Therapy0

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Joined
Apr 26, 2013
Messages
1
Hi everyone,
I come across this thread via a google search.
I am a tradie who abuses the crap out of the LXT batteries, in 5 years I have had 2 fail. I have also collected a few 1830 packs that are buggered also.

I am quite competent when it comes to sussin' out faults, and I can report on all my failed packs it is always the first parelleled pair that goes. Some times they even seem to be reverse polarity!

I have loaded up a genuine makita pack with a "bricked chip" with new cells as required, but no deal, the charger ( blue fast charger ? ) rejects it instantly and on monitoring the current passed to the battery from the charger shows absolutely nothing.

Interestingly, there are a bunch of knock off cheap chinese packs on ebay for about $60, more for curiosity than anything I bought 1, it failed within about 2 months after reasonably heavy use, the same fault, the first 2 cells are basically a bit of wire.
I popped 2 new cells in and tried to charge, but after about 15 seconds the charger rejects it. Before the charger gives it the boot, it does actually take on a charge. The pack as a whole is still only about 16v, so very flat. I think the charger is rejecting based on an unbalanced situation, as the new cells at 3,8v the others much less.

It doesnt seem to matter how many times I put on the knock off pack, it always seems to charge for a bit then carck it, the real deal does not take a charge at all.

I might jump the dead pack with a good full one, and see if i can get the volts high enough for the charger to take it.

Would be nice if some brainiac works out how to render the smart chip not so smart. In the mean time there is the universal route!
 

Lurveleven

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Joined
Dec 21, 2004
Messages
1,237
Location
Bergen, Norway
If you had a RC-charger, then you could try to charge and balance the cells before assembling the pack back together.
 

alpg88

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Joined
Apr 19, 2005
Messages
5,456
i have 3 such drils at work, all still going strong, and are used almost daily. i have taken them apart, just to see how they are made. despite having multicontact plug, in addition to +,-, temp. the cells are not ballanced, in factory charger. the last sell, has wire soldered to negative and to the pcb. the cells are of that chemistry that alows overcharging, so the pcb basicly monitiors soc of the last cell, overcharging the rest in proccess. it is entirely possible to make a charging\ballanced plug\tail, and charge those in hobby charger, it wil be slower however.
even thou i have 3 li ion makitas at work, i still prefer nicd milwaukee drill.
 

toolguru3

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Joined
May 10, 2013
Messages
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Hi fella's,

I have had my Makita lxt600 combi kit for about 4 months and have found that the batteries were letting me down. I have read the posts below and i can say that i think taking the batteries apart etc is way too technical for me. I am happy using the tools etc but taking them apart i`d rather take them to a shop and get them replaced. This leading me to my point, when i bought my combi kit from SCR*WF/X i had 2 batteries go down within 2 weeks. So i went back with my receipt and the complete kit in the same box as purchased and when i asked for a replacement under the warranty, i was blatantly denied. To simply put it, i was told "NO, You have to deal with Makita for that". So i spoke to a few lads on site and was told that they should replace them for me free of charge. I went to another tool store local to me A One Tools & Fixings Brighouse, and was absolutely amazed when i asked if they could help me with any advise and they told me to bring the batteries in for them to look at and if they were deemed faulty, that they would swap the batteries out for me with brand new ones under the warranty claim. This to me was the biggest blessing about buying this kit, aonetools helped me out so much regarding this and i`m just wondering if anyone else had has this scenario where they were blatantly told to go away but then found that another company would help them with there warranty claims??
 

alpg88

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Joined
Apr 19, 2005
Messages
5,456
So can you balance the Makita 1830 batteries with an RC Charger?

theoreticly yes, but why???

all cells charge fully with factory charger, even thou most get overcharged in the process, but cells chemistry allows it somewhat. and you would have to take apart the pack, and solder balance tail to it. and at the end, you will, most liklely, not get any improvment, over factory set up. not to mention good bye warranty
 

itguy07

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Jul 25, 2007
Messages
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Location
Central PA
all cells charge fully with factory charger, even thou most get overcharged in the process, but cells chemistry allows it somewhat. and you would have to take apart the pack, and solder balance tail to it. and at the end, you will, most liklely, not get any improvment, over factory set up. not to mention good bye warranty


I would think all LiIon tool batteries that are more than 4v would balance automatically as part of the charge circuitry. You don't want to overcharge LiIon and over time they can become un-matched and really be nasty in a tool (high current) environment.
 

alpg88

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Messages
5,456
I would think all LiIon tool batteries that are more than 4v would balance automatically as part of the charge circuitry. You don't want to overcharge LiIon and over time they can become un-matched and really be nasty in a tool (high current) environment.

thoses are not regular li co cells, (in factroy batteries), those cells can take overchrge, and are made for high current, and no, li ion cells do not balance automaticly, in those batteries, since there is no balance circuit. just monitoring of last cell in the pack. take one apart you'll see what i'm talking about.
i have few li ion drils at work that are used almost daily, we had no problems so far with batteries, all still work fine.
 
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