Regular Monthly Maintenance
You can assure the ongoing performance and life of your battery by following a quick routine of battery maintenance. 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 Top up the levels as needed with distilled (not tap) water
- Keep the top of the battery 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, sulphation 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. To extend the service life of your battery, make monthly battery maintenance part of your routine.
Factory Activated/Sealed Maintenance Free Batteries
Keep the top of the battery free of grime
Check cables, clamps and case for obvious damage or loose connections
Clean terminals and connectors as necessary
Finish up by testing the battery with a voltmeter.
Storing Your Battery
If the vehicle is in storage or is 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 15.5°C. If stored in a warm area (above 15.5°C) charge every two weeks. Make sure batteries are stored out of reach of children.
We recommend that you spend a little time in protecting your battery during off season storage.
If at all possible, remove the battery from the vehicle. Clean the battery and terminals using a solution of baking soda and water as a precaution to remove any electrolyte that might be on the outside of the battery.
Make sure that nothing enters the battery during cleaning. You can also use the baking powder/water solution to clean the battery compartment of the vehicle to help neutralize any electrolyte that may be present. Rinse with clean water and dry thoroughly.
After the battery is cleaned, inspect for any signs of damage or extraordinary wear that may have occurred while in service. If you have any concerns about the condition of your battery, you should seek the advice of a mechanic or a battery specialist.
Upon determining there is no concern of damage, for conventional batteries, check the electrolyte levels. The level of electrolyte must be maintained above the minimum and at or below the maximum level line on the side of the battery. Check only when on a flat level service. If you need to increase the level, carefully add distilled water avoiding any overfill. Once the levels are adjusted, charge the battery referring to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Sealed VRLA batteries or those referred to, as “Maintenance Free” do not require you to maintain the electrolyte levels. Sealed VRLA batteries must never be opened once in service or permanent damage and failure will occur. Once you have cleaned and inspected the battery, charge it in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
When the battery is fully charged it should be stored in a secure cool dry environment or reinstalled in the vehicle. Either way, allow yourself access to the battery so you can periodically check your state of charge, or simply attach a battery charger/maintainer to it.
Maintaining your battery state of charge during extended periods of storage is essential to insure the maximum service life is delivered.
Season Start up
When it’s time to inspect the vehicles that you’ve stored during the off-season please make sure that the battery is high on your checklist. Just charging a battery is no indication of its’ overall health. Unless you’ve maintained the battery during the storage period, it may not be able to deliver its peak performance and service life for the upcoming season. To insure that you get the best performance your battery can deliver you need to perform a few simple checks.
Before performing any inspection on your battery, make sure that there are no open flames or possibility of sparks around the battery and absolutely no smoking. Always wear eye protection, protective gloves and clothing.
For a conventional style battery (those with the liquid electrolyte) you should visually inspect the battery for any apparent problems. These can include dirty or corroded terminal connections, low fluid levels, physical damage such as broken or missing filler caps or dirt and moisture on the battery. If you need to service the battery, it’s best to remove it from the vehicle. First insure that the electrolyte levels are properly adjusted. Using distilled water; fill each cell until the level is above the minimum level line on the battery case and at or below the maximum line. Never overfill the battery or leakage will occur. If you discover that the electrolyte levels have fallen below the minimum level lines, there is a possibility that permanent damage may have been done to the internal lead plates in the battery and a new replacement may be required. After adjusting the levels, make sure the filler plugs are secured and the battery is free of dirt and corrosion.
If you need to clean the battery, use a mixture of baking soda and water to neutralize any electrolyte that may be on the outside of the battery. Simply brush this on the battery and terminals using an old paintbrush or tooth brush and rinse it off with clean water. Dry the battery using an old soft rag or paper towel and make sure the terminals are clean and free of corrosion. You can clean the terminals with a small wire brush, if the corrosion is significant, or just brighten them up by using a piece of emery cloth.
When your battery is clean, it’s time to check the state of charge. When using a voltmeter, the battery terminal voltage should read at least 12.6 volts. If your voltage is below this or you’ve adjusted the electrolyte levels, a boost charge is required. Charge the battery in a well ventilated area away from kids and pets. The variety of chargers you can use to endless but it is recommended that you use an automatic taper type charger specifically designed for Powersport batteries. Do not use a high current or fast charger for the boost charge unless you are familiar with their operation or permanent damage can occur to the battery.
When servicing a Sealed Maintenance Free battery, you do not need to inspect the electrolyte levels since the battery is permanently sealed. The cleaning method and charging methods are the same as for the conventional style batteries. Sealed Maintenance Free Batteries have a slightly different electrolyte, which influences the terminal voltage. The full charge voltage should read about 12.8 volts.
After you’ve performed this maintenance, you still may require additional help with your battery. While the battery may exhibit good terminal voltage, it may not be in the best state of health. The battery could be seriously short on capacity if it had deteriorated due to corrosion or sulphation. To check this condition you may choose to reinstall the battery in your vehicle and perform a very fundamental start test or you could take the battery to a service centre and have a capacity test performed. Most battery dealers will perform a simple electronic or electrical resistance test on the battery and be able to tell you the state of health. By knowing the state of health, you can determine the useful life expectancy of your battery. With this information you can decide if you should replace the battery with a new one or reinstall the existing one in the vehicle.
To insure maximum performance and service life for your battery, we recommend that you use nothing greater than a 1.5 Amp or 900mA Automatic Battery Charger or Float Type Charger for battery maintenance. Please refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for additional battery charging information.
Even with the proper care and maintenance your battery will eventually wear out. It is usually easier, more convenient and in some “mission critical” situations safer, to replace them before they fail unexpectedly. With this in mind, you may want to simply replace the battery every few years with a new one.