Green Tractor Talk banner
1 - 20 of 33 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
17,246 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First let me say I've been a cordless Makita fan for decades, since back in the 9.6V NiCad days. Later when the 18V LXT line came along I started to accumulate additional tools... drills, drivers, recip saw, lights, etc.

The first blow from Makita was a few years ago when within one week both of my 3Ah batteries suddenly refused to charge - displaying an error light on the charger. I did some research and found that Makita has a chip in their batteries that "disables" them automatically at some point. Nice.

I had already started to accumulate some Milwaukee M18 tools and was tempted to dump my Makita stuff and switch totally to Milwaukee. But... I decided to go ahead and get a new pair of Makita batteries and continue to use the stuff I had. First I bought another 3Ah battery and later saw that I could get a 4Ah for the same price so got one of those. I was disappointed again right away as Makita didn't have charge indicators on their batteries like most other manufacturers. I continued to use my old 3Ah batteries on my LXT work light until they were dead and then pitched them.

I thought I was okay and then came the second BLOW from Makita as I quickly learned about the mysterious embossed "star" on certain batteries and tools. Unlike other manufacturers, just because you have a Makita 18V LXT tool and a Makita 18V LXT battery does not mean they necessarily work together. Both of the new batteries had the embossed star.

However, I learned that while the 3Ah battery would work on both my drills, the 4Ah battery only works on one of the drills. On the other it will not snap on. One of the LXT drills has the embossed star on the bottom and the other does not.

I also have one of those little Makita 5-1/2 inch 18V LXT metal cutting circular saws. Over the weekend I had some cutting to do and my 3Ah battery was not fully charged so I grabbed the 4Ah battery and wouldn't you know it, it would not snap on to the bottom of my LXT metal cutting saw - which doesn't have the magic embossed star on the bottom.

What kind of compatibility game is Makita playing? What other manufacturers plays games like this with tools and batteries that are in the same model family? At this point I am done with Makita. The plan is to hopefully dump the Makita tools I have on Craigslist and replace the tools I'll be missing with Milwaukee. At this point I only need a new reciprocating saw and metal cutting saw to make me whole again.

Has anyone else been screwed over my Makita like this?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
566 Posts
I love my Makita stuff. My drill and impact are starting to wear out (I think, they feel weaker anyways), and I was going to just go back with Makita again. This is making me question that. I have a drill, driver, recip saw, and circular saw of which I have (2) 5ah batteries for. I've bought a few replacement batteries in the 12 or so years I've had the tools and never had any compatibility with any of them.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jimmy Walker

·
Registered
Joined
·
220 Posts
I love my Makita stuff. My drill and impact are starting to wear out (I think, they feel weaker anyways), and I was going to just go back with Makita again. This is making me question that. I have a drill, driver, recip saw, and circular saw of which I have (2) 5ah batteries for. I've bought a few replacement batteries in the 12 or so years I've had the tools and never had any compatibility with any of them.
I have had similar experience with my Makita tools (Drill, Impact Driver, Sawzall, etc...) in the 10+ years that I have had them, so far very good luck with them. Think I have bought 2 batteries over that time. I have in the last year or so started accumulating some Milwaukee stuff, mainly my 3/8" and 1/2" drive Impacts as well as angle grinder and grease gun just because I like their features better and they seem to have more power.
 

·
Registered
2014 1025R
Joined
·
264 Posts
I've standardized on Makita for my tools. I've had a couple batteries lock themselves out and it's annoying. I wish they were more open about what leads to the lockout. However, lithium ion batteries has a finite life, so the lockout isn't actually removing much value from the battery in reality. I don't know how conservative they're being with the lockout. Is it as bad as the printer carts that report empty with a thousand pages left? No idea. I wish they'd do better here, but I don't find this one a deal-breaker. All the Li batteries have some level of this protection, Makita is just known for being a little more aggressive than other makes. I think, because Makita is an independent company, they worry a little more about having battery fires and the financial liability that leaves them with. If DeWalt has a battery issue, Stanley Black Decker will survive. If LXT gets a bad name, Makita disappears.

Same with the star battery. The LXT platform has been around a very long time. Makita was one of the first to play in the LiIon market. For the first set of LXT batteries, they didn't include anything other than temp sensor feedback to the tool, which was typical at the time. With STAR, they added a full communication protocol with new connections, which is typical now. Unfortunately, that now means there are some cross-compatibility problems. It's actually better than other manufacturers, that, when crossing this same bridge, made utterly incompatible batteries. Maybe Makita should have as well, to avoid consumer confusion.

I give Makita some room. They're one of the last independent makes of power tools that isn't some ugly conglomerate. I'm also happier buying Japanese than I am buying Chinese, like Milwaukee. If I had to bail from Makita, I'd probably go DeWalt.

Not that I should talk too much. For yard battery tools, I've standardized on EGO. They're a brand of Chervon, which is Chinese. Unfortunately, the biggest non-pro tools brand to compete is Ryobi, which is TTI like Milwaukee. Neither Makita nor DeWalt make as complete a lineup. And Makita's LXT line of batteries is too small for this big work. DeWalt is getting closer to making a good lineup, but I'm a bit committed now. I can't justify spending for my small needs on, say, Stihl. Nearly all the up-and-coming brands, like Greenworks, which is Globe Group, are also Chinese.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
17,246 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I love my Makita stuff. My drill and impact are starting to wear out (I think, they feel weaker anyways), and I was going to just go back with Makita again. This is making me question that. I have a drill, driver, recip saw, and circular saw of which I have (2) 5ah batteries for. I've bought a few replacement batteries in the 12 or so years I've had the tools and never had any compatibility with any of them.
I suspect your tools are newer models and probably all have the embossed star on the bottom of the tool where the battery contacts are. The issue seems to be LXT tools without the embossed star.

Below are my two drills, both LXT series. One with a "star" and one without. I can only imagine how disgusted I would be had I bought two 4Ah batteries instead of one 3Ah and 4Ah. Then I wouldn't have any battery that works on some of my tools.

Green Blue Handheld power drill Pneumatic tool Tool
 
  • Like
Reactions: Gizmo2

·
Registered
Joined
·
566 Posts
I suspect your tools are newer models and probably all have the embossed star on the bottom of the tool where the battery contacts are. The issue seems to be LXT tools without the embossed star.

Below are my two drills, both LXT series. One with a "star" and one without. I can only imagine how disgusted I would be had I bought two 4Ah batteries instead of one 3Ah and 4Ah. Then I wouldn't have any battery that works on some of my tools.

View attachment 806056
I'll check all my stuff when I get home tonight, I'm curious now.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Gizmo2

·
Registered
2014 1025R
Joined
·
264 Posts
I'll note I have only STAR batteries now (six). I had the two non-STAR batteries (my oldest) lock out. All my batteries fit all my tools, including my non-STAR tools. My oldest tool with my newest battery:
Gas Gadget Auto part Electronic device Machine
Wood Bumper Electric blue Hardwood Tool
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
17,246 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Same with the star battery. The LXT platform has been around a very long time. Makita was one of the first to play in the LiIon market. For the first set of LXT batteries, they didn't include anything other than temp sensor feedback to the tool, which was typical at the time. With STAR, they added a full communication protocol with new connections, which is typical now. Unfortunately, that now means there are some cross-compatibility problems. It's actually better than other manufacturers, that, when crossing this same bridge, made utterly incompatible batteries. Maybe Makita should have as well, to avoid consumer confusion.
I appreciate the explanation of the "star", It would have been nice had they been a bit more communicative with customers or indicated such on the packaging. When both my batteries failed I wasn't really in a position at the time you rush out and buy new batteries but I was forced to. Of course, I didn't know at the time that I was buying batteries that were incompatible.

There is still confusion though why the 4Ah won't work on some of my tools when my new 3Ah and 4Ah batteries both have the star. If the star means some new connection then neither should have worked.
 

·
Registered
2014 1025R
Joined
·
264 Posts
I appreciate the explanation of the "star", It would have been nice had they been a bit more communicative with customers or indicated such on the packaging. When both my batteries failed I wasn't really in a position at the time you rush out and buy new batteries but I was forced to. Of course, I didn't know at the time that I was buying batteries that were incompatible.

There is still confusion though why the 4Ah won't work on some of my tools when my new 3Ah and 4Ah batteries both have the star. If the star means some new connection then neither should have worked.
I don't know all the details. I know that some tools need the STAR because they push the battery harder than you could without the extra communication. Note how the STAR shoe always has the extra T (temp) connection. It doesn't always have the full yellow connector on the tool. I thought all non-STAR would take STAR batteries, but maybe some older tools have a shoe that hangs up on the yellow connector. Don't know...I don't have any tools with that issue, despite being on Makita LXT for nearly 15 years. Certainly, some non-STAR tools, like mine, don't have an issue. I don't think you can buy non-STAR batteries anymore. The STAR spec is approaching its first decade of life, I think.

Also, I've never had a STAR battery lock out on me. I know it can still happen: all Li batteries have some form of lockout when they get "dangerous", for whatever definition of dangerous that manufacturer goes for. But maybe the extra electronics allow Makita to push the batteries closer to the edge comfortably. Or maybe I've just gotten lucky...I have far more batteries now than I did, so I probably spread the load out a lot more.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,468 Posts
John,

The non LXT "Star" tools have a small nub, either plastic or metal that prevents the newer style batteries from being used.

I also ran into the same problem with a couple of Makita LXT tools in my stable. You can remove the nub and use the newer batteries in your older tools. In my case I used a small, sharp wood chisel to whittle away the plastic nubs and now use my 3, 4 and 5 AH batteries across the entire line of tools.

Notice the nub that's indicated on the tool in the right side of the photo below.

Green Pneumatic tool Handheld power drill Blue Tool



Here's a video link with some information: Makita LXT tool hack
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,637 Posts
Can't find where I read about it but IIRC the Mak batteries lock out after a certain number of failed charging attempts. Not when you get the hot/cold delay but I believe any of the other failures will do it.

I believe you can buy an aftermarket control board for the battery pack that removes the lockout feature. How safe it is I don't know. Li-ion cells are pretty safe if handled appropriately, and by handle that means whether it's you inserting bare unprotected 18650 cells into your (hopefully smart) charger, or a control board in a battery pack communicating with the charger and handling everything for you as it charges the cells within the pack.

I've switched to Hercules cordless tools. They're built well, work fine, and the replacement battery packs are not a ripoff. I did have one battery pack (my oldest one) fail to take a charge so I took it apart to see what cells were inside and was pleased to see they were Samsung brand so I kept them for use in flashlights and such.

I do have one 18V Makita LXT drill and one battery for it. That thing won't die lol.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
17,246 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
John,

The non LXT "Star" tools have a small nub, either plastic or metal that prevents the newer style batteries from being used.

I also ran into the same problem with a couple of Makita LXT tools in my stable. You can remove the nub and use the newer batteries in your older tools. In my case I used a small, sharp wood chisel to whittle away the plastic nubs and now use my 3, 4 and 5 AH batteries across the entire line of tools.

Notice the nub that's indicated on the tool in the right side of the photo below.
Interesting... I may try that on my little circular saw as I use it very infrequently and hate to spend $220 on a Milwaukee replacement for something I use once or twice a year.

Thanks for the tip!
 

·
Registered
2014 1025R
Joined
·
264 Posts
John,

The non LXT "Star" tools have a small nub, either plastic or metal that prevents the newer style batteries from being used.

I also ran into the same problem with a couple of Makita LXT tools in my stable. You can remove the nub and use the newer batteries in your older tools. In my case I used a small, sharp wood chisel to whittle away the plastic nubs and now use my 3, 4 and 5 AH batteries across the entire line of tools.

Notice the nub that's indicated on the tool in the right side of the photo below.

View attachment 806061
Interesting. I have four non-STAR tools and none of the them have that nub. And my non-STAR charger will take STAR batteries. I've had them since new and never made a modification. You can see the lack of a nub on the picture I posted above and you can see it's all factory...no cuts.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,971 Posts
Funny how you post this, I have several greenlee gator compression tools and they use Makita batteries. I recently bought new batteries and they only fit one of my greenlee gator crimpers. Seems like I'm having the same issue.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jgayman

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,468 Posts
Interesting. I have four non-STAR tools and none of the them have that nub. And my non-STAR charger will take STAR batteries. I've had them since new and never made a modification. You can see the lack of a nub on the picture I posted above and you can see it's all factory...no cuts.
I can only speak from my own experience with my older, non-"Star" LXT tools. From what I've heard and mentioned in my reply is that some of the earlier Non-"Star" LXT tools had a small metal blade in the same position instead of the plastic nub. I may have seen a YouTube video showing both versions at some point in time.

As far as the chargers are concerned I have both versions. An older and newer style and all LXT batteries can be interchanged between chargers without any problems.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
836 Posts
The first blow from Makita was a few years ago when within one week both of my 3Ah batteries suddenly refused to charge - displaying an error light on the charger. I did some research and found that Makita has a chip in their batteries that "disables" them automatically at some point. Nice.
I've had that problem with the star batteries, from what I have read, the diagnostic chip has it's own battery, so you can push the buttons and the battery looks good, but when you go to charge you get the failure. My fix was to just charge them the 1st of every month, and have gone for several years with no battery failures. I didn't use and charge mine often enough as I only had one device and 2 batteries.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
17,246 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Interesting. I have four non-STAR tools and none of the them have that nub. And my non-STAR charger will take STAR batteries. I've had them since new and never made a modification. You can see the lack of a nub on the picture I posted above and you can see it's all factory...no cuts.
This just further illustrates what a confusing mess the Makita battery issue is. Star, no star, nub, no nub… These are all 18 volt LXT series tools and batteries yet there is clearly a compatibility problem.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,400 Posts
The only Makita tool I see on my jobs....New construction and see many Framing crews /plumbers etc.

Is the cordless worm drive skilsaw...Most all have one and are tooled up with either De Walt or Milwaukie for everything else. Even the roofing crews carry makita skilsaws for the odd plywood replacement or whatever.

Everyone likes that saw the best but go to other brands for the rest of whats needed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,516 Posts
I got a Makita impact driver (it came with a drill, charger, 2 batteries and a case) several years ago. I got a second set but it is a long story. So far all have been good. I may not use it for a while then use the heck out of it. This star thing is useful to know, I had no idea prior to this post. I hope I remember come the day.
I also have a Ryobi small circular saw. It too came with a drill. I also have the small chain saw I use when needed, a second one as the first has switch issues. This last annuall battery sale day I got some extra batteries and chargers, and another circular saw. Again, no problems so far.
I used to have most of the Ryobi NiCad tools. I gave all of them to my BIL. I don't think he knew how to use them, but it is his problem now.
Thanks for this post. I hope I remember it.
 
1 - 20 of 33 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top