CAR AND DEEP CYCLE BATTERY
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS 2014

Bill Darden

Last Updated on April 17, 2014


Words of caution: Lead-acid batteries contain a diluted sulfuric acid electrolyte, which is a highly corrosive poison and can produce flammable and toxic gasses when recharged and explode if ignited. According to PREVENT BLINDNESS AMERICA, in 2003 nearly 6,000 U.S. motorists suffered serious eye injuries from working around car batteries. The U.S. Eye Injury Registry reports that it is the third leading cause of eye injuries at home. When working with batteries, always wear ANSI Z-87.1 splash-proof safety goggles (preferred), safety glasses, or any glasses; have plenty of ventilation; remove your jewelry; and exercise caution. If available, always follow the manufacturer's instructions for testing, jumping, installing, charging, and maintaining batteries.


BCI Warning Label

[Source: BCI (Battery Council International)]


Car batteries are used to start a gasoline or diesel engines found in approximately 400 million cars, light trucks and vans worldwide. This FAQ also applies to approximately 75 million motive and stationary deep cycle batteries and an estimated 150 million additional starting batteries found in trucks, SUVs, recreation vehicles (RVs), motor homes, caravans, boats, power sports (motorcycles, snowmobiles, ATVs, jet skis, etc.), tractors, riding lawn mowers, etc. This FAQ assumes 12-volt, six cell, negative grounded, lead-acid car and deep cycle batteries at 80° F (26.7° C) with capacities from 5 Amp Hours (AH) to 250 AH. The terms "starting", "SLI" and "cranking" are used for car batteries but would apply to any lead-acid battery used to start an engine. When used alone, the generic term "battery", applies to both lead-acid car, other starting, motive and stationary deep cycle batteries. For 6-volt (three cell) batteries, divide the 12-volt battery voltages in this FAQ by two; for 8-volt (four cell) batteries, divide by 1.5; for 16-volt (eight cell) racing batteries, multiple by 1.33; for 24-volt (12 cell) batteries, double the voltage; for 36-volt (18 cell) batteries, triple the voltage; and for 48-volt (24 cell) batteries, multiply by four. Hyperlinks to battery glossaries and dictionaries can be found in the Battery References Link List on http://www.batteryfaq.org/.

Warnings and other important information are in BOLD or red text, and the technical stuff, recommendations and tips are in italics.

CONTENTS

1. WHAT IS THE BOTTOM LINE AND SOME QUICK TIPS?

2. HOW ARE BATTERIES MADE? WORK? and DIE?

3. HOW DO I PERFORM PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE?

4. HOW DO I TEST A BATTERY?

5. HOW DO I KNOW IF MY VEHICLE'S CHARGING SYSTEM IS HEALTHY OR LARGE ENOUGH?

6. HOW DO I JUMP START MY VEHICLE?

7. WHAT DO I LOOK FOR IN BUYING A NEW BATTERY?

8. HOW DO I INSTALL NEW BATTERIES?

9. HOW DO I CHARGE (OR EQUALIZE) MY BATTERY?

10. WHAT CAUSES MY BATTERY TO DRAIN OVERNIGHT?

11. HOW CAN I INCREASE THE LIFE OF MY BATTERY?

12. WHAT ARE THE COMMON CAUSES OF PREMATURE BATTERY FAILURES?

13. HOW CAN I STORE (OR WINTERIZE) BATTERIES?

14. WHAT ARE THE POPULAR CONSUMER QUESTIONS ABOUT BATTERIES?

15. HOW LONG CAN I PARK MY VEHICLE?

16. HOW CAN I REVIVE A SULFATED BATTERY?

17. WHY WON'T MY ENGINE START?

18. WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION ON BATTERIES?

19. HOW CAN I PRINT THIS FAQ?

The best source of information about your battery is the manufacturer who made it. Some manufacturers do any excellent job of informing and educating their customers about their batteries, by enclosing the information with each battery or on their Web sites. Ideally, the battery manufacturer should print the most important consumer information on the battery label such as capacity and performance specifications, 100% State-of-Charge definitions, charging voltages, etc. If this information is not readily available, request it from the manufacturer, distributor or dealer. If they are unwilling to provide it, please use another manufacturer's product. This information is absolutely essential to properly charging and maintaining the battery and obtaining the optimal performance, capacity and service life from your investment.

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