According to many people, an old battery is good for nothing once it’s dead or on the edge of death. As soon as the battery tends to lose its capacity to hold the charge; it is usually thrown away to be replaced with a brand new battery. It is one step thing to replace the old battery with a new one given the money invested in it, however; did you ever think that there are many other solutions where you can save money and might actually go back to the 100% functional and efficient battery? Well, this can be done by a simple trick of reconditioning the batteries, and the car battery is one such which stands at the top of the list.
Why should we refurbish a Car Battery?
The process of reconditioning is not as difficult as it sounds and any person who has absolutely no idea of how a car battery works can also recondition it. All you need to have is a bit of time, patience and few tools, items and gadgets that would help you in refurbishing the battery. Once you are done, you will be able to transform the old battery into a brand new battery with maximum performance and same features.
Besides, you can as well save the money that you are going to spend on the battery with something else and reduce the pollution as well. The old batteries are said to have 50% less impact on the environment when compared to the new batteries and on the whole, you are as well keeping the planet healthier by using the refurbished batteries.
How does a Car Battery work?
Like most of the daily use batteries, the car battery is also rechargeable at an essential level, and most of the car batteries are of the lead-acid type. The car batteries have a neat loop unlike other batteries as a battery is the responsible for producing the power required to kick start the car. Once the car is started, the battery gets recharged while you drive by the car alternator.
The most commonly used lead acid batteries can be divided into Flooded Cells and the Sealed cells. The sealed cells can be left without maintenance, but the flooded ones are to be checked occasionally through the provided detachable caps for the maintenance of the water level.
Battery refurbishing or reconditioning can be done on both the battery types after making sure that you’re using distilled water as a topping. The reason behind the usage of distilled water is because it is not de-mineralized and therefore, the chemical reaction of the battery won’t be interfered in any context.
In some more than rare cases, there is a possibility of battery drainage because of a loose connection between the battery terminals. Therefore, check the terminals during your next oil re-fueling to avoid any further hassles.
When to Replace a Car Battery?
There is a high possibility that your battery is fine even when it is draining. This might be because of a loose connection as mentioned earlier, or because of your battery going flat frequently or maybe because of a dysfunctioning alternator or an electrical error. A quick visit to the repair shop or the battery shop will let you know if your battery can be reconditioned/refurbished or whether it should be replaced. Batteries are designed to degrade gradually, and all the batteries will run out of their life time at one point or other where they have to be replaced.
Some of the situations where you should go for a Car Battery replacement are:
- Corrosion in the battery leading to the interior damage, followed by a premature failure.
- A crack in the battery, disturbing the capacity.
- Breakage at one terminal or both of them.
- Sulfation in the battery leading to an unchargeable situation over the period. Though in this case, you can revive the battery; the charging will always be a little slow.
A thing to know about battery conditioning is that no guide is going to make a failed, dead or a degraded battery; good. In all the cases that are mentioned above, your battery is failed, and you need to replace it after checking the quality with a suitable battery. If you’re looking for a DIY method, you should initially disconnect the negative terminal of the battery to prevent any accidental short circuit.
Once the ground is removed after that, you can replace it yourself with careful measures. The car battery contains acid in it, and any mishandling might harm your body. Therefore, employ working gloves and safety goggles while replacing or poking the car batteries.
Safety Precautions while handling a Car Battery
The car batteries are made of lead acid mostly and therefore, following a certain set of safety measures is important to stay safe and to keep your battery safe:
- Maintain the battery charging for four or more continuous nights to restore the battery to the maximum capacity before you recondition it.
- To minimise any performance loss, place the battery on a trickle especially when you are not using the battery for a longer period; say more than a week.
- In cases where you leave the stored battery free, it will slowly lose the charge and allow sulfurization on the lead-acid plates.
- While reconditioning the car batteries, make sure that you’re in a ventilated area and that you are not near to any fire or flames and when you accidentally spill acid on the skin, start irrigating the spot with mineral water.
- Don’t use the tap water to clean the battery as it may affect the chemical reactions inside the battery and stop it from working.
- Never store the battery or the battery acid in warm places or under the sunlight as they tend to catch fire.
- Make sure that you are conscious about the battery chargers being compatible with particular type of batteries. Use a charger which works with a automobile battery of 12V.
- Metals react with acids easily which is why; use basters, plastic or other type of plastic containers while you’re dealing with the battery.
- Immediately get rid of all the metal jewellery or the tools from the working area to avoid any explosions or open flames.
Things you need to Recondition a Car Battery
While researching on the reasons behind the battery drainage, it is noted that the most common reason that leads to the degradation of battery performance is the sulfation, a condition in which sulphur is formed on the battery’s lead plates and blocks the electric current. It is not that difficult to recondition the car in such cases, but sulfation has a tendency to cause irreversible corrosion and therefore, you can only recondition a sulphur affected battery; around 5 times.
- Magnesium Sulphate or any Epsom Salt that contains the same
- A Plastic Funnel
- Distilled Water (Should be De-mineralized)
- A Drill in case if you’re using Sealed Cells
- Battery Charger
- Plastic Plugs
- Rubber Gloves
- Safety Goggles
How to Recondition a Battery?
Have you been stuck with a dead car battery and are looking forward to recondition it? Well, if you are owning an old generation car where it can be push start with a stick shift, it doesn’t matter if you want to recondition the battery till you get a new battery. However, the recent cars that work on automatic charging and transmission very much require a jump start. Therefore, reconditioning a flattened battery is important and can be done through this simple DIY method:
- Initially, take the car manual out and go through the type of terminals that your car holds. Check if they can be used for battery charging. If not, then place the car with a workable battery beside the car that has a battery issue.
- Open the car hoods and turn any electricity consuming feature on in the car with a flat battery. Though it sounds weird, this is done to prevent further power surge and damage of the electronics inside. Now, run the car with a good battery.
- Take the jumper cables and attach the red cable of the flat battery to the positive side of the working battery to positive the flat battery out. Repeat the same with the black cable by attaching it to the negative side.
- Don’t attach both the ends at the same time. You can instead attach one of the cable’s ends to an unpainted surface. After doing this, start the car with draining the battery and wait for a minute or two for the gas penetration of the car.
- When the flat battery car is started, remove both the leads in a totally reverse order as mentioned above. Make sure that you run the car for a while so that the alternator can charge the flattened battery.
You can instead use a plugin charger like a smartphone charger instead of a car with a good battery. There are many types of car battery chargers available in the market, and you can choose the one that suits your battery, the best. Make sure that the battery is ventilated while it is being charged to avoid any swelling.
In some cases, you might have to fast charge the battery to get rid of sulphur that has been formed. If you have the ‘fast charge’ mode enabled in the settings, just charge the battery for a minute or two and not more than that. If you charge it for a longer period, you will find the battery acid boiling down and releasing hydrogen gas which is inflammable.
How to Refurbish a Car Battery?
The Refurbishing of a Car Battery can be done in three different phases. Refurbishing initially is an innovative way to extend the battery life that lasts for another couple more years. However, the economic profit when considered the price Vs performance is favourable which is why the refurbish-able batteries are in the lime light, today. The three phases in Refurbishing are:
1. Using Acid Removal
Take half a gallon of distilled water and start boiling it to the boiling point of water. In this water, add half a spoon of magnesium sulphate or Epsom salt until it is entirely dissolved in the water. Set the water aside, and if you find stirring a bit difficult, you can make someone else do it. Make sure that you mix it nicely as the inside of the battery should not be contaminated by this process. Wash the exterior of the battery with baking soda and water to render a smooth neutralisation. Scrub the terminal corrosion and start using the battery.
2. Replacing the Battery Acid
In this process, you can remove the cell covers with the help of a screwdriver. Make sure that nothing is coming out of the battery. Take a paper towel and clean the open holes and with the help of the plastic funnel, add the above-mentioned mixture into each of the cells. After filling the cells, close them with the covers and start rocking the battery to and fro for the mixture to coat all the surfaces properly. Now, charge the battery for a day or two and repeat the same process for more than once.
3. Discharging the Car Battery
It is advised by many mechanics, to discharge the battery when you’re repeating the cycles in order to gain maximum performance. Just reconnect the battery to the terminals inside the car and keep the headlights on to drain the battery. When they turn dim, disconnect the battery and start the cycle again. This third phase will now complete the refurbishing of the car battery.
To conclude, the car batteries unlike laptop or any other kind of batteries; are very crucial as they have the tendency to create troubles while you’re going somewhere, while you’re in middle of something or while you have a plan that has been built. Therefore, it is important to keep a constant check on your car battery’s capacity (at least in regular intervals) in order to know what kind of maintenance it needs.
In case if it is draining slowly and is being slowed down, recondition it or refurbish it using the above mentioned methods. If not, replace it directly by buying a car battery using a DIY method.