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Battery Care

Would you settle for four to six years? Yes it is possible but it will take a little time and effort on your part. I am sure most of you have seen the battery compartment door open on the show room floor proudly displaying all those magnificent big batteries on the slide-out tray and the battery posts covered with the red and black plastic coating and thinking I am never going to have acid corrosion on the battery posts. WRONG! If you are lucky this protection will last a year at best. Extended battery life depends on whether you are conscientious and open up the compartment door and pull out the battery tray about every 30 days first spraying the side panels on each side with water and then directing the water stream toward the batteries to wash off all the accumulated dust, dirt, and rocks again re-spraying the side panels with water.

Why in the heck do I spray water on the side panels? A mixture of sulfuric acid and water (aka electrolyte) is used in batteries and is very non-forgiving. Just a tiny splatter on a dry painted surface in a few days will appear as a white, raised sulfated spot and the paint will be gone forever. Once sulfuric acid contacts metal and is absorbed into the pores of the metal or alloy it will continue to leech out and to the best of my knowledge there is no way to completely remove it once ingrained there. That is why no matter how hard you try with baking soda or a commercial chemical to neutralize and remove the acid corrosion on a battery terminal or cable it will reappear within a short period of time. Whatever you do, do not take one of your wife’s best cotton towels out to wipe off the “white and murky green” corrosion from the battery terminals that gets on your hands because the next time she washes it large holes will appear, and that goes for your Levis where you have wiped your hands. If the pants you are wearing are made of synthetic material they will not be affected, mostly natural fabrics are subject to acid damage.

After spraying the batteries with water and getting them fairly clean, this would be a good time to check the electrolyte level in each battery cell. The electrolyte level should be up to the bottom of the round downward tube within the filler hole and form a contact with it. If not, water is required to bring it up to the proper level. When you remove the battery caps turn them over and place them on top of the battery. There are two reasons for doing this. When you remove the cap the part of the cap that?s inside of the battery will have acid on it, again about anything acid touches other than plastic or synthetics will be damaged. You will also prevent foreign material from entering the battery cells when the caps are replaced. You should always use distilled water to top off the cells. Tap water contains mineral and chemicals, which will generally shorten the battery life. Only the water portion of the electrolyte evaporates not the sulfuric acid

The above is just good basic knowledge to have. However for those of you who are sort of maintenance challenged and don’t like to get your hands dirty, you should stop reading now. Others, take a look at the next article on Battery Maintenance.

This article is reprinted with permission from Dwight Dowds the article author, and was originally published in BeaverTales, the newsletter of the Beaver Ambassador Club.

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