The battery is one of the essential parts of the vehicle. It’s virtually integrated into the car to provide electric current to the motor. It doesn’t matter whether the automobile runs on an electric motor, a hybrid, or an internal combustion engine; all cars need the electric power that propels it into action.
The sad reality is that we often don’t take this aspect of our vehicle as something worthy of constant attention. Many car owners often ignore the battery. Interestingly, a good battfery can improve the fuel economy of your car. Besides, it can help ensure a smooth ride for hours.
However, a dead battery can make your car become a sore to the eye. What’s more, a journey can become a bore once the car battery starts to malfunction. The engine won’t come to life; the car hiccups; the ignition button will fail, and each time you turn the key, the car will fail to respond.
You cannot always replace a dead battery each time; you can use techniques to recondition your battery and make it function optimally. This is what this article is about. Don’t forget, big-box car accessory retailers won’t bulge to sell you a new battery.
But all you have to do is simply recharge or jumpstart the battery and give it a fresh breath. Why do you have to spend money on a new one? Let’s find out how to recondition your car battery.
Different Cars with Varying Power Sources
Automobiles are generally powered as electric cars, hybrids, or powered by internal combustion engines. Most modern cars use the latter method. Typically, cars that run on internal combustion engines (ICE) make use of standard lead-acid batteries.
These conventional batteries come with 12 volts. They also work on the principle of starting, lighting, and igniting (SLI). Cars using lead-acid batteries do not come with start-stop technology.
On the other hand, hybrid cars make use of batteries built with either Lithium-ion (Li-ion) or Nickel-metal hydride (NiMH). These kinds of batteries are used to power electric motors. However, they help to improve fuel economy. The third class includes cars powered by electricity. This category includes cars with moderate Li-ion batteries.
What Does Reconditioning a Car Battery Mean?
In simple terms, to recondition a car battery means to rid it of sulfate deposits. How does your car battery build up sulfates? In an attempt to release electric energy to your vehicle, a car battery goes through a process called sulfation. That is, sulfur could form at either or both (positive or negative) terminals of the battery.
The more sulfate crystals that form, the longer it takes the alternator to charge the battery to full capacity. The consequence is that the battery will perform less efficiently. Besides, this will cause the release of a lower amount of charge to power the vehicle.
When this happens, you will need to disulfate the battery plates, to allow the crystals to vanish from the battery ends. This new process is called battery reconditioning. It’s otherwise called refurbishing.
While reconditioning, the battery receives new life by restocking the electrolyte solution that has reduced due to the formation of sulfate crystals. In the end, the battery will receive adequate charge and function optimally.
How Can You Recondition Your Car Battery?
There are simple steps to make your dead battery work again without having to break the bank. Rejuvenated car batteries supply the optimal charge your car needs to power. Here, we’ll focus on lead-acid batteries. This is because they’re the commonly used batteries. Besides, they require fewer steps to recondition
You’ll need to prepare a couple of items, solutions, and equipment when you want to recondition your car battery.
Among the solutions you’ll need include:
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- Plastic funnel
- Hard toothbrush
- Battery charger
- Plastic buckets (2)
- Personal protective wears: apron, gloves, and protective goggles
- Steel wool/Battery terminal cleaner
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Steps to Recondition Your Car Battery
Apart from the specific guide to reconditioned various batteries, below is the standard guide to have your car battery reconditioned.
Before you start, make sure you use a well-ventilated area. Secondly, put on safety aprons and gloves. Also, get familiar with the various components and post configuration as well as the size of the battery. Now that you’re set, you can begin the process of reconditioning your car battery.
One other thing you must do is to prepare the solutions. To achieve this, mix (in ratio 2 to 1) baking soda with distilled water to form the runny cleaning paste. The paste will also serve to cover the acid spill.
Step 1: Clean the Battery Terminals
Cleaning the battery terminals is the first step to prepare the battery for further action. The battery may be corroded or rusty, apply the cleaning solution or paste to remove corrosion and rust build-up on the posts. Scrub it properly with a toothbrush to form a foaming reaction. The steel wool will work on the heavily corroded sections of the battery.
Step 2: Inspect the Battery Voltage
The next step is to verify the amount of voltage present in your car battery. Typically, a standard car battery comes with 6 cells. Each of the cells releases about 2.1 volts. In total, a car battery will produce about 12.6V.
To check the battery voltage, simply connect the voltmeter by connecting the terminals. Connect the red cable to the positive terminal and the black to the negative terminal. Once the result of the connection shows a voltage less than 12.6V, then you’ll need to recondition the battery. If it’s below 10V, you’ll need to replace the battery.
Step 3: Empty the Battery
At this point, you should adjust your googles to properly fix and firmly place on your eyes. This is to prevent acid burns or chemicals from entering your eyes, as you empty the battery cells. With a small nudge, the screwdriver should easily loosen the battery caps. Use the buckets to gather the pouring acid as the battery inclines away from the position you’re standing/bending. As much as possible, try to avoid acid spills. After emptying the acid into the bucket, add some baking soda to the acid to neutralize it.
Step 4: Clean & Wipe the Cells
Once you’ve emptied the battery acid into the bucket, you’ll clean and wipe the cells properly. With the plastic funnel’s help, pour the mixture of baking soda and distilled water into each cell. Replace the battery cap and cell seals. Shake the battery to ensure the cleaning solution gets into every part of the cell. Remove the seals and pour away the old acid into the bucket.
Step 5: Refill Cell with Solution
Now that you’ve emptied the battery cell, cleaned, and wiped it, you have to replace it with a new solution. Add four cups of distilled water to about 0.2 pounds of Epsom salt. Stir vigorously until the water is clear. Replace the cell solution with the new electrolyte solution. Seal and shake again to distribute the Epsom salt evenly. This process is what
Step 6: Charge the Reconditioned Battery
This is a no-brainer. By now, the reconditioned battery is dead and inactive. It needs that you recharge it. Remove the battery caps; if not, the new solution could increase the temperature and spill over when the battery is charging.
For safety purposes, position the charger so that it stands far away from the battery. Set things up at a speed of 12V/2 amps and allow the battery to charge for up to 36 hours.
Step 7: Test the Battery
Last but not least stage is to test the battery for performance and functionality. To do this, you’ll need to disconnect the charger. Use your voltmeter to inspect the charge status of the battery. Normally, the battery voltage should read about 12.42V. If lower, continue the charging process for another 12 hours until it’s complete.
Once the reading is complete, reinstall the battery into the car and carry out a load test. Turn your vehicle’s high beams on. Allow the load test for a few minutes. The reading should be about 9.6V. If it’s less, the entire reconditioning process is faulty. You’ll need to repeat it.
How Can I Recondition Gel, AGM, and NiMH Batteries?
Although the reconditioning processes differ from one to another, many batteries can be revived. There is a range of batteries that can be revived. It doesn’t matter whether it is a Li-ion battery, NiCad battery, lead-acid battery, AGM, Gel, or NiMH battery; they can be rejuvenated. The process of reconditioning depends on the kind of battery.
For instance, you can recondition a Li-ion battery by simply disconnecting it from the motor and placing it on a charger for about 24 hours. Alternatively, you can place it inside a freezer for 24 hours.
While NiMH batteries produce some after-reconditioning power, reviving them requires placing them under a deep charge. This kind of battery performs better than the NiCad battery.
For NiCad batteries, simply place the battery’s terminals under high voltage. Meanwhile, this type of battery shows reduced signs in performance after reconditioning.
AGM and Gel batteries have some properties in common with lead-acid. However, they’re safer for use and will not spill out any chemicals from their frame cracks. The process of reconditioning is also simple. All you need to do is to discharge the terminals and slowly recharge them to regain power and performance.
How Long Will a Reconditioned Car Battery Last?
The number of years a reconditioned battery will last depends largely on a range of factors. The age of the car and the current capacity of the battery matter. Besides, the way the car is used, including the road rides’ condition, will determine how long the refurbished battery will last.
You can how easy it is to recondition a car battery. But you shouldn’t wait until your car battery depletes before you refurbish. The car battery requires adequate care and constant check. While reconditioning may work for some batteries, it may not work in another breath for a depleted battery. This is why you must consider safety first. Take the overall maintenance of your vehicle parts seriously.