Prepare Your Battery for the Off-Season
This entry was posted on November 21, 2013.
As the leaves begin to change color and drop off the trees, you’re probably getting ready to retire your motorcycle, boat, four-wheeler or personal water craft until spring. With a little routine maintenance on the battery, you can make sure it’ll be ready to go once the warmer weather starts to approach. Follow these simple tips to ensure that your battery survives the winter. You'll find that putting in a little extra effort on basic prevention will benefit you in the long run and you can avoid purchasing a battery every spring.
Disconnect the Battery
The first step you should take is to disconnect your battery and store it in a garage or room where the temperature stays above freezing throughout the winter. Freezing temperatures can harm the battery and affect its ability to maintain charge. If you choose to keep the battery connected to the vehicle, the battery self-discharge rate in tandem with the minor battery drain it experiences during connection (called vampire power) will make it lose its charge more quickly in the future.
Fill the Cells
Remove the caps from wet cell batteries to check the water level in all the cells. Use distilled water to fill any cells that are low. Then, place the caps back on the cells.
Wipe It Down
The main objective of cleaning the battery is to protect it from corrosion. After you’ve removed it, wipe it down with baking soda and water to neutralize any battery acid that might be on the case. Then, rinse it with clean water, and dry it.
Clean the Posts
Use steel wool to clean any corrosion from the battery’s posts. Dab a little bit of petroleum jelly on them to help them resist rust. A battery post cleaner also has a blade that will clean the connectors.
Keep It Charged
Batteries that get used regularly recharge themselves. While your battery is sitting idle, it continuously loses power due to internal chemical reactions. Proper battery storage includes recharging the battery once a month with an automatic charger that stops charging when it senses that your battery is fully charged. Be sure to get the right kind of charger for your battery. If you use a trickle charger, monitor the battery so that it doesn’t get overcharged. If the battery feels hot while charging, stop charging it. The best option is to a use a smart charger or maintainer which will maintain the batteries charged state without over charging it.
Don’t forget to put both batteries from your boat into battery storage. You’ll want to remove the starting battery for the engine and the house battery for the lights and other electronics. When you replace the batteries next season, your boat will be fully charged and all ready to rumble.
Everybody covers their bike or boat with a tarp for the winter, but few people realize how easy and important battery storage is. It will reduce headaches next year and get you back on the road to enjoying your special toys sooner.