How to Recondition a Car Battery: Money-Saving Tips & Tricks

car battery

If you have found yourself reading this article, chances are that you are looking for tips on reconditioning car batteries. The good news is that you’ve come to the right place. Reconditioning car batteries can save you a lot of money when you know how to do it. It doesn’t require much technical skill. What it does require is a bit of knowledge that we will share with you in this article, attention to detail, and some precaution. As you will be aware car batteries contain a highly acidic solution; so you need to be protected and prepared before you start.

Step by Step Reconditioning your Car Battery:

If you have been searching online to find out how to recondition a car battery, this article is for you. You may need to learn how to recondition a battery for a few different reasons. Perhaps you want to save money, or you may be looking for a way to be kinder to the environment by not throwing your old battery away. On the other hand, you may be thinking about starting your very own business in reconditioning batteries. Whichever the case, you have come to the right place. So, sit back, and read the article from start to finish, ensuring you don’t miss any of the vital steps.

What are Reconditioned Car Batteries?

Reconditioning of car batteries is the process by which you bring back to life your old car battery that has low or no charging capacity. It is a waste of money to simply throw your old car battery away because it is low on charge. A battery that has no other faults can be reconditioned up to three times. If you look around you right now, you will see plenty of devices that are run by batteries; your laptop or cell phone being two of the most common. There are several different types of batteries used in these devices such as Lithium and NiCad, and the case of batteries, lead-acid batteries. Some devices will run on rechargeable batteries; your cell phone and your laptop are once again perfect examples.

Why People Throw Away Car Batteries

A lot of people throw away car batteries out of ignorance. They are unaware of the fact that batteries can be reconditioned up to three separate times. So, instead of throwing away your battery, and money, it’s time to learn how to recondition your car battery. If you are not comfortable with mechanics or indeed doing the job yourself, you can take your battery to a garage that will recondition it for you. This way you will still save money on the cost of a brand-new battery.

How to Recondition a Car Battery: Benefits of Reconditioning

When your car battery is letting you down you have a few different options open to you. Firstly, you need to be sure that it is the battery that is the culprit for your car not starting when you turn the key. Other possibilities would be a faulty alternator and loose connections. Alternatively, you may find that your alternator works as it should at charging your battery, but that your battery then simply loses its charge again. This can be very frustrating, as having to jump-start your car can become a daily occurrence. So, once you are sure that it’s the battery that is at fault, you have two options. One is to buy a new battery and the second is to recondition the one you already have. Reconditioning is always a great option if your battery is otherwise in good condition and is not damaged. If your auto has been involved in an accident and the battery looks damaged, it’s better to replace it with a new one.

Advantages of Reconditioned Car Batteries

There are plenty of advantages of reconditioned car batteries:

  • Then the average lifetime for a regular battery for your car is five years. After this amount of time has passed you may think that it’s time to throw away your battery and buy a new one. However, if you recondition your battery instead, you could extend its life by up to two years. So, a quick calculation allows you to work out that the same car battery will be good for not five years but seven.
  • You will save money. When you recondition your battery for your car, you will save somewhere between 25 and 50% of the retail cost of a brand-new battery. Depending on the make and model of your car, a brand-new battery will cost you anywhere between 75 and 100$.
  • When you choose to recondition your car battery, you will be helping the environment. Each battery that is simply discarded and thrown away is polluting the earth and damaging Mother Nature. A lead-acid battery contains acidic electrolyte, this being used for the charging of the cell. Both the sulfuric acid and the lead content of car batteries are poisonous and can cause a threat to soil and groundwater. Discarding old car batteries should, therefore, be avoided at all costs.
  • Lastly, once you become competent at reconditioning of car batteries, you can even think about setting up your own business. Remember that owning a car is an expensive business and motorists are always looking at ways of cutting back on expenses.

Reconditioning Car Batteries at Home

So, now we have learned all the advantages of reconditioning your car battery, it’s time to get down to business. We will show you, step by step, how to recondition your car battery in your own home or your shop. The most important thing to remember before you get started is that your old battery contains lead and acidic solution, so you need to take care and find an appropriate place to carry out the task. So, to get started you will need the following equipment:

  • Rubber gloves. Disposable ones are preferred
  • A Mask and Goggles
  • A Battery Charger Suitable for the Car Battery in Question
  • A funnel
  • A Flathead Screwdriver
  • 1 Gallon of Distilled Water
  • Baking Powder/Baking Soda
  • A Voltmeter
  • A large bucket
  • An Apron
  • A Battery Terminal Cleaner
  • A new or used toothbrush

STEP 1:

Before you get started with the reconditioning of your car battery, it’s time to put on all your protective gear. You need to wear for your safety a mask, goggles, gloves, and an apron. As well as this, it is useful to have to hand a weak solution made from baking soda that can be used to neutralize any splashes and accidental spills.

STEP 2:

The next stage of your battery reconditioning is to remove any corrosion that you find on the battery terminal. To do so you will use a paste that you have prepared from baking soda and water in a 2:1 ratio. This is where you will use your toothbrush. Dip it into the solution you have made up and gently rub the battery terminals to remove any corrosion. If there is corrosion that won’t come off with a toothbrush, you can try removing it with wire wool or sandpaper.

STEP 3:

Once you have finished removing all the corrosion from the battery terminals, you will need your voltmeter to measure the volt reading for your batter. When connecting your voltmeter to the battery terminals, make sure that you connect correctly; the red wire needs to be connected to the positive terminal and the black one to the negative one. The reading you get will determine whether your car battery is in good condition or not. A reading over 12.6V is a good indication that your battery is still in great condition. If you get a reading of between 10 and 12.6, this is an indication that you should recondition your battery.

STEP 4:

You should carry onto step four only if your battery has a reading of less than 12.6V. Here, you need to remove the battery caps with your flat head screwdriver. Keep them in a container or put them somewhere where you won’t lose them. The next stage is the one that you need to take the most care with. You need to lift your battery and slowly and without splashing pout the old electrolyte solution into the bucket you have to hand. Do not pour this solution straight away. First, you must neutralize it; this can be done by adding 500g of baking powder into the bucket.

STEP 5:

Next, you will need to make up a solution of baking soda and water. You should add 2 parts baking soda to one-part water. This solution should then be poured into your battery and the caps put tightly back on. With the caps on, shake the battery for around half a minute. After this time has elapsed, open the battery up again, and pour the solution into the same bucket you used in previous steps.

STEP 6:

The next stage is to replace the old electrolyte solution with one that you make up with Epsom salt. The solution should have one molar concentration and this is achieved by dissolving 120g of Epsom salts in one liter of distilled way. The solution should be well mixed, and then gently poured into each of the cells of the battery. Once you have finished, it’s time to put the battery caps back on again.

STEP 7:

Now you have refilled your battery cells, it’s time to recharge your reconditioned battery. You should use a slow charging mode at 12V/2amps. It will take somewhere between 24 and 36 hours to fully charge your battery. After this time has elapsed, you can use your voltmeter to see if your reconditioning has been a success. A reading between 12.42 and 12.6V means your battery is now perfectly reconditioned.

STEP 8:

The final step is to road test your battery. This can be done by using a battery load tester. A good battery will successfully be able to maintain 9.6V for fifteen seconds at ½ the CCA rating. If your rating is not correct, drain off the power from the battery, recharge it for up to 36 hours, and test again.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Below are some frequently asked questions about reconditioned car batteries; we have included them so that all details are covered and you are not still wondering about the ins and outs and do’s and don’ts’ of the process.

Can Anything Else Other Than Epsom Salt Be Used?

Yes, if you don’t have an Epsom salt to hand, 2 other chemicals can be used for the same purpose.

  • Copper Sulfate. This is a great alternative and easily dissolves in water. It is a blue powder.
  • Aluminum Sulfate. This is another alternative that can be used in a ratio of 1:1 with distilled water.

Can Vinegar Be Used?

Many people believe that a solution for topping a low battery electrolyte is to use Gatorade or vinegar. We do not recommend either of these as substitute filler for your battery. Pouring vinegar into a car battery will cause lead acetate to be formed into the cells, which in turn will inhibit the proper functioning of the batter. If you simply want to top up your battery, use distilled water, not vinegar or Gatorade.

What Should My Battery Reading Be?

A 12V battery, when fully charged should give a reading of between 12 and 12.6V, sometimes higher.

What Happens if I Overcharge My Battery?

Overcharging your car battery is never a good idea, and in short, it can cause the death of a perfectly healthy battery.

How Can I Tell If My Car Battery Is Dead?

The reading of your car battery can be taken with a voltmeter. Any reading under 12V means that your car battery is dead. A battery with a reading of 12.4V still has half its charge. A fully charged battery will have a reading of 12.6V or more, sometimes as much as 12.9V.

Can I Use A Regular Charger for My Car Battery?

You should never try to charge a car battery with any type of regular type of charger that is not designed for the purpose. It could result in the overcharging of the battery and the sudden death of an otherwise healthy battery.

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