DIY Tech Tips No.1
If you choose to install your own battery it is important to clean your battery clamps and terminals (Lead Posts). A dirty terminal can create high resistance which can cause unreliability at best or at worst totally melt the terminal off your battery. Sounds extreme, but we have seen lots of cases of dirty terminal clamps and lead oxide on the terminals leading to a melted or damaged terminal. It can be repairable, but more often than not totally destroys your battery. Prevention is easy. We carry several types of terminal cleaning tools in the store, a popular model being the Projecta Post and Terminal cleaner. For about $5 you have a tool to clean the inside of the terminal clamps and also clean the lead posts on the battery. For those who like to get more serious with their tools, we carry trade quality terminal / post cleaners.
DIY Tech Tips No.2
Have you checked the fluid levels in your battery lately? If your battery has an inbuilt hydrometer / indicator (often called a ‘magic eye’ or ‘light’), this will indicate the state of charge and some times it will indicate the fluid level. You should refer to the top label of the battery for the readings. An inbuilt hydrometer usually indicates a maintenance-free battery. So no fluid top-ups here.
If your battery has removable caps on top this means you can check the fluid levels and the state of charge. The fluid (electrolyte) in most batteries is diluted sulfuric acid. Safety must be kept in mind at all times. See here for safety precautions. It is important to maintain correct fluid levels in each cell of your battery so that you get the best performance and service life from your battery. If the levels are low and the plates are dry, this will cause poor performance and if left too low for a long period of time it will cause irreparable damage to the plates of the battery. If the fluid levels are too high, you will end up with acid all over the top of the battery and else where, this will cause corrosion. If you need to top up your batteries fluid levels, you should use distilled water and you should be added just enough to cover the top of the plates inside each cell. A level of 5 to 10mm above the plates is often enough. We stock a handy spout which fits on the average soft-drink bottle, this will help when pouring water into the cells of your battery.
While the caps are off your battery you can check the state of charge of your battery with a Hydrometer like the one pictured above. It measures the specific gravity of the electrolyte in each cell to give you a quick indication as to how charged your battery is. The specific gravity of the electrolyte will change depending on the state of charge in the battery. The hydrometer should give you a fairly even set of readings across the cells. If some of the readings are very different, it might be time to bring the battery down to the store and let us have a look. Check the image below to see how to use a Hydrometer and if you need help with checking your batteries fluid levels or would like us to do it for you, come and see us at Absolute Batteries Toowoomba.
How to use a Hydrometer.
DIY Tech Tips No.3
If you have ever wondered if your alternator is working or if something is draining your battery then these are the tools for you. A Digital Multimeter can be invaluable in diagnosing faults with alternators and/or bad wiring, letting you know if you are getting power where it needs to be and if your vehicle has a bad case of VD (VD stands for Voltage Drop, this is just bad battery guy humour.). While your alternator might be working there may be other problems sending your battery flat such as a draw or drain on your battery. A Digital Current Meter or Current Clamp will tell you how much electricity is passing through a wire which will allow you to trace the problem back to its source very quickly.
DIY Tech Tips No.4
If your battery clamps don’t fit on the terminals of your new battery, we have the solution for you. A set of clamp spreaders can make refitting a new battery a much easier process, especially with older vehicles or clamps that have not moved in years. A simple to use but very effective tool to have in your toolbox to save a ton of frustration. If you’ve ever tried to cut copper cable with anything other than proper cable cutters you’ll understand how difficult it is. Instead of leaving a ragged end on the cable, these cable cutters will slice through and leave a nice neat end ready to be crimped and soldered into some cal ends. Just don’t put your finger in there…
DIY Tech Tips No.5
Next time you are checking your oil and water under the bonnet, have a look at your batteries clamps and terminals. If they are covered in corrosion, cleaning them should be a top priority with how destructive the acidic residue can be on metal surfaces. The acidic residue is caused by the natural processes of your battery being charged and can be cleaned and prevented in a few simple ways. If there is a great deal of sulphation on the clamps and terminals there is several ways to clean them. The oldest one being simply boiling your kettle and pouring water over the affected area. The downside to this is that you must ensure you clean every bit of the corrosion away and its residue or you will continue to have problems. Quickcable has a couple of options:
- Quickcable Battery Cleaner with Foaming Action: Designed to defeat large amounts of corrosion and clean your clamps and terminals. This great product is quick and effective.
- Quickcable Battery Cleaner with Acid Detection: More of a general battery cleaner, it will detect any excess acid or residue and change colour to warn you of an impending problem.
You should also clean the inside of the clamps (See: DIY Tech Tip No. 1) with a terminal brush to get a nice clean surface on both clamp and terminal. Once you have cleaned the connections and surrounding area, you should try to prevent the corrosion coming back. Prevention of corrosion can be done in several ways, and we use WD40 or Inox products sprayed over the clamps and terminals once they are secured. For more long term solutions we have some Quickcable Corrosion Preventatives in two different options:
- Quickcable Battery Corrosion Preventative with Clear Silicone Formula. This leaves a clear protective solution over your clamps and terminals to protect them while leaving it looking almost stock.
- Quickcable Battery Corrosion Preventative with Original Red Formula. Ideal for long term solutions, this leaves a red coating making it plainly obvious they are protected, perfect for solar systems.