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Battery Monthly Maintenance

A battery only requires a little monthly maintenance to perform perfectly. Keep the battery charged to 100%, recharging when the lights dim, the starter sounds weak, or the battery hasn't been used in more than two weeks. Other than that, follow this simple check list every month:

  • Check the electrolyte level
  • Keep the top free of grime
  • Check cables, clamps, and case for obvious damage or loose connections
  • Clean terminals and connectors as necessary
  • Check inside for excessive sediment, sulfation or mossing
  • Make sure the exhaust tube is free of kinks and clogs
  • Replace caps firmly
Finish up by testing the battery with either a hydrometer or voltmeter. If you make monthly maintenance on your battery part of your routine, your battery is guaranteed to live a long life.

Storing Your Battery

If the vehicle is in storage or used infrequently, disconnect the battery cable to eliminate drain from electrical equipment. Charge the battery every two weeks.

For extended storage, remove the battery from the vehicle and charge to 100%. Charge the battery every month if stored at temperatures below 60 deg F. If stored in a warm area (above 60 deg F), charge every two weeks. Make sure batteries are stored out of reach of children.

Proper Clothing
  • Always wear a face shield or safety goggles.
  • Wear plastic gloves to prevent acid burns. An apron or smock will protect your clothes.
Working With Acid
  • Clean up acid spills immediately using a water and baking soda solution to neutralize
    ( 1lb. baking soda in 1 gallon of water).
  • Make sure the acid container is clearly marked and the work area is well-lighted and well-ventilated.
  • If sulfuric acid is swallowed or splashed in the eyes, treat immediately. Sulfuric acid in the eyes can cause blindness. Serious internal injuries or death can result if swallowed. Used as an electrolyte, sulfuric acid can burn the skin.
ANTIDOTES:For acid on the skin, flush with water. If acid is swallowed drink large quantities of milk or water, followed by milk of magnesia, vegetable oil or beaten eggs. Do not induce vomiting. Call a poison control center or doctor immediately.For acid in the eyes, flush for several minutes with water and seek immediate medical attention.
Charging Safety
  • When charging conventional batteries, loosen vent caps and ventilate charging area. A buildup of hydrogen and oxygen in the battery or in the charging area can create an explosion hazard.
  • If the battery feels hot to the touch during charging, STOP. Allow the battery to cool before charging again. Heat damages the plates, and a battery that is too hot can explode.
  • NEVER put the red sealing cap back on the battery once you take it off. If you do, gases will become trapped and could explode.
  • Make sure the vent tube isn't kinked or blocked. Otherwise, gases could build up and explode.
  • Properly connect the charger to the battery: positive charger lead to positive battery post and negative charger lead to negative battery post. Unplug the charger or turn it off before you disconnect the leads, which will cut down on the chance of sparks.
    ABSOLUTELY NO SMOKING, SPARKS OR FLAMES AROUND CHARGING BATTERIES. Charging gives off hydrogen and oxygen, which explode if ignited.

SULFATION AND FREEZING

Two of the biggest battery killers - sulfation and freezing - aren't a problem if the battery is properly maintained and water level is kept where it should be.

Sulfation

This happens because of 1) continuous discharging, or 2) low electrolyte levels.

Let's back up just a minute: we said earlier that discharge turns the lead plates into lead sulfate. This lead sulfate is actually a crystal. If the discharge continues uninterrupted, the sulfate crystals grow and blossom into sulfation - and a problem.

Much the same happens if the fluid level is too low, which exposes the plates to air. Then the active lead material oxidizes and sulfates, and it doesn't take long before it won't hold a charge. (Low electrolyte levels cause another problem, too: acid in the electrolyte becomes more concentrated, causing material to corrode and fall to the bottom. In sufficient quantity, it will short out the battery.)

Keeping a battery charged, pulling the battery cable during storage, and keeping electrolyte levels up eliminate the problem. For added protection, YUASA"s YuMicron, YuMicron CX and GRT batteries are treated with a special chemical formula called "Sulfate Stop." This dramatically reduces sulfate crystal buildup on plates. The result: longer battery life.

How good is Sulfate Stop?

We simulated a constant discharge condition on two batteries with a 10-watt bulb. Even after being totally drained for a week, the battery with Sulfate Stop made a 90% recovery.

The untreated battery: useless.

It shouldn't bother you - unless a battery is inadequately charged. Looking one more time at the discharge process, remember that electrolyte acid becomes water as discharge occurs. Now, it takes Arctic temperatures to freeze acid. But water...as we all know, freezing starts at 32° F. A sign of this is mossing - little red lines on the plates - but it's tough to see unless you've got great eyes. Freezing can also crack the case and buckle the plates, which means the battery is shot.

A fully-charged battery can be stored at sub-freezing temperatures with no damage. As the chart shows, it takes - 75 deg F to freeze electrolyte in a charged battery. But as just a couple degrees below freezing, at +27 deg F, a discharged battery's electrolyte turns to ice. That's a difference of more than 100 deg F between the low temperatures a charged and discharged battery can stand.

At temperatures such as these, incidentally, the self-discharge rate of a battery is so low that a recharge usually isn't needed for months. But to stay on the safe side, test.

Electrolyte Freezing Points
Specific Gravity of Electrolyte
Freezing
Pont
(degrees F)
1.265
-75 F
1.225
-35 F
1.200
-17 F
1.150
+5 F
1.100
+18 F
1.050
+27 F

SELF-DISCHARGING

Self-discharge goes on all the time. It's a battery fact of life that they get weaker from "just sitting". How rapidly a battery self-discharges depends on battery type. A lead-calcium battery discharges at a much slower rate than a conventional battery. Lead calcium discharges at 1/300 volt per day. Conventional lead-antimony batteries discharge at 1/100 volt per day.

What Adds To Rate of Self-Discharge?

As outside temperature rises, so does the rate of discharge. A battery stored at 95 deg F will discharge twice as fast as a battery stored at 75 deg F, and a temperature of 130 deg F is deadly to a battery. In some parts of the country, garages and storage building easily reach that temperature in the summer.

Accessories like clocks and computer memory will discharge the battery even when the ignition is off. And remember that the battery is self-discharging on its own at the same time the accessories are drawing on the battery.

Short trips (under 15 or 20 miles) will also add to the drain on your battery because the charging system doesn't have time to make up for losses from normal starting and self-discharging.

Some people believe that letting the battery sit on concrete causes it to discharge faster. This is absolutely not true. The battery discharges at the same rate whether it is on concrete, stones, macadam, sand, or dirt.

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