If you are a car owner and you do not know how your car battery works, you might want to educate yourself. If you don’t like breaking your bank due to expensive maintenance costs and ending up at the mechanic every so often, you must know how to locate your car’s battery, inspect the battery’s fluid levels, and know when the levels are low so that your car battery acid can be refilled.
To make your life easier, we have simplified the process and have explained how you can keep a check on your car’s battery fluids and avoid needless expenses:
Know where your battery is located
Your car’s battery has a similar function to your heart. Instead of blood, the battery pumps electricity to the car’s electrical components. This powers your car and keeps its engine running.
In most cars, the battery is located right in the front, fixed in the bay of the engine and towards the sides. You might find it on the right or the left side of this engine. Don’t worry if you cannot find your battery in this area. Some cars like BMMW or Mercedes-Benz have these batteries secured in the boot to better distribute the weight. For those who live in the US, the boot is the trunk in your car. If you own a Cadillac model, you might want to check for your battery under your car’s rear seat.
Now that you know where your battery is located, you can check its conditions and see if it needs some cleaning done. This is a step that you must not skip. By cleaning it, you will be minimizing the risk of external particles entering your battery’s cells, this will keep it in good condition and help it work in an efficient manner. A clean and dirt-free battery will conduct electricity to the car’s system in an effortless manner.
Cleaning will protect the car’s battery as well as the metal components that surround it from corrosion. While cleaning the battery, a damp cloth works well to remove the dirt. If, however, you find yourself in a situation where this dirt is stubborn and the damp cloth is not helping, you can use another method to clean your car’s battery. You might be happy to know that you will not need any fancy tools to get the cleaning done, most of these items will be present in your home, specifically your kitchen. Here is what we suggest:
If you have a window cleaner at home, check if it is ammonia-based. If you don’t have one, you can easily find it online or look for it at your nearest convenience store. Once you have an ammonia-based window cleaner, you can spray it on a clean cloth and then scrub your battery with it. This will loosen the impurities stuck on the battery, which you can remove using paper towels. This method can be used if your battery is showing signs of slight corrosion. However, these steps may not work if your battery is heavily corroded.
To deal with more significant corrosion, you will have to use baking soda with water. Like we said, cleaning batteries is not as intimidating as it sounds, these two ingredients are present in pretty much any kitchen. Grab a little dish or plate to mix the baking soda and water to form a paste. Add enough water to create a paste that isn’t too runny.
After you have created the paste, spread it over the battery using a damp cloth, and immediately wipe the paste off without letting it dry. Continue this action till your battery looks clean. To make sure there is no grease left behind, you can even spray very little ammonia-based window cleaner. By the end of it, you must make sure there is no baking soda left behind as this will have an adverse effect on your battery, causing it to corrode even sooner than usual.
Once you have cleaned the battery, you will find a couple of semi-rectangular plastic covers. These covers act as a seal for the battery cell’s ports. In order to remove them, you will have to grab just about any flat edged tool, like a putty knife. To remove round covers on the battery, you can turn each of them in a counterclockwise direction.
In some car batteries, there is a label that says “Maintenance Free”, which signifies that the battery in that car is not to be accessed by the consumer. Such batteries are disposable and in case of any trouble with the car, like a hard engine start, these must be checked straight away. If these batteries are not maintained, they may fail without prior notice.
Now that you know the difference between a regular and a maintenance-free battery, you may proceed to clean the dirt and corrosion that you might find on the ports. Instead of using the baking soda, clean these with a window cleaner so that the soda paste does not creep into the port.
Examine Battery Fluid Levels
Now to get to the most important part: Checking the battery fluid levels.
Once the port covers have been removed, you can easily look through the ports to examine the fluid levels. If you can’t see the fluid, flashlight into the port and it should be visible.
In case you’re wondering, battery fluid is an electrolyte that is a combination of distilled water and sulfuric acid. This is why electrolyte levels are also referred to as acid levels in the battery. The function of this fluid is to link the electrodes of each cell.
The battery’s ports should each have the same level of electrolytes. If the levels are not the same, this is an indication of an unintended overfill. Do not worry, this problem can be easily managed by correctly filling the ports.
If, however, you find that there is a significant difference in the levels of acids, there might be a leak. This leak may have been the result of a crack in the battery. If your battery does not have any leaking, you may fill the battery pot with distilled water to the specified maximum level.
Cover the battery ports once you have finished topping up the car battery’s acid. Make sure to check the battery after two weeks to inspect if the electrolyte levels have remained the same.
How do you know when the acid is Low?
When inspecting battery levels, you should be able to understand when the acid levels are low and require a refill. To check this, see if the plates present inside the ports are immersed in water. An insufficient level of electrolytes will be indicated by unsubmerged plates. Hence, slowing down your car’s battery efficiency.
You must make sure that your plates have not been in contact with air. If they have been, there is a chance that particular areas on these plates might be damaged, decreasing electrolyte levels. If the electrolyte levels are under the plates by half an inch, you can increase the levels by adding distilled water and solve this issue.
One more cause of low electrolyte levels can be overcharging your battery. To find out if this is the reason behind low acid levels, you will have to check your car’s alternator.
Maintaining your car’s battery can sound like an intimidating task. However, once you know how the battery works, maintaining it and maximizing its performance becomes much easier. Knowing how to keep a check on your battery’s fluid levels yourself also helps in avoiding unnecessary mechanic runs that might cost you an arm and leg.
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