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How To Recondition A Car Battery That Doesn’t Hold Charge

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No one likes it when their battery gives up on them, especially when they need it the most. It’s stressful, frustrating, and, to be honest, very costly! However, many times, you can recondition a car battery instead of replacing it.

Even though it is an essential fact to know, many people are unfortunately unaware of it. Consider it an automobile hack, if you will! Reconditioning your car battery if it does not hold a charge is more straightforward than most people might assume.

If you’re interested to know how this works, which you should be, let’s talk about the nitty-gritty of the subject!

When does your Car Battery need Reconditioning?

It is essential to understand when you can recondition your car battery and eligibility for this procedure. The simplest and most reliable way to figure this out is using a multimeter.

A multimeter is a mechanical instrument that helps you measure the voltage across a car battery. It enables you to identify the amount of power stored in your battery.

The rule of thumb is that if the multimeter attached to your battery gives a reading equal to or higher than 12.6 volts, it’s good. Any battery with such a reading does not need to be reconditioned.

However, if the battery gives a reading somewhere around 10 Volts to 12.6 Volts, it is eligible for reconditioning. Lastly, if you spot a measurement below 10 Volts, there is no point in reconditioning the battery because it is way beyond saving now.

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Corroded Battery Terminals and Irregular Multimeter Readings: 

An important point to remember here is that corrosion on or around the terminals of a battery can lead to inconsistent, irregular, or incorrect multimeter results. These errors and faults can lead you to identify a battery as eligible or ineligible for reconditioning incorrectly.

It might sound simple, but this incorrect diagnosis can lead you to two disasters: you’ll either recondition a battery that was perfectly fine or not recondition a battery that you could have saved.

In such cases, you must clean the terminals first. You can do so in two ways:

  • Turn off the car and mix water with some baking soda. Keep the ratio around 2 to 1. Then, take any toothbrush and dip it in the mixture. Start rubbing it on the corroded battery terminal. Keep rubbing until all or most of the corrosion is off.
  • If the baking soda method does not work correctly, you can use steel wool or sandpaper to remove the leftover corrosion. Just make sure you don’t overdo it and accidentally damage the terminals. In the end, use any dry cloth to wipe it down, and that’s all! Wasn’t that simple?

Then, connect the multimeter to the battery: the red cable to the positive terminal and the black wire to the negative one. Now, see the new measurements.

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How to Recondition Your Car Battery

Many people will be positively surprised to know how many ways there are to recondition a battery. They will be even more amused to find just how simple these methods are. Two of these methods are so simple that you can easily do them at home.

However, the third one is probably best left to a professional. Avoid dealing with dangerous chemicals and let the experts take charge!

Take the Right Precautions First

When tackling your car battery, you need to be very careful. Unlike popular belief, car batteries are not all that lethal, but you still need to handle them with care. Hence, make the following preparations to prevent injuries or mishaps:

  • Ensure that you deal with the battery in a well-ventilated or open area. It should not be a closed garage or a tiny congested room.
  • Wear proper protective gear: You will need safety goggles to keep your eyes safe from damage. Japanese flip-flops are also critical and can be very beneficial for protection purposes.
  • Furthermore, you will need gloves to ensure your hands don’t get hurt from substances or chemicals. Burning, irritation, allergies, and all these nasty incidents are unfortunately very common when dealing with car batteries. So you need to make sure your hands are adequately covered.
  • Lastly, an apron will help avoid any fluid splattering on your body and clothes. Again, you cannot underestimate the importance of protective gear when reconditioning a car battery.

Three Methods of Reconditioning your Car Battery

The following three ways to recondition a car battery are the most popular, effective, and recommended by experts worldwide:

1. Using an Automatic Recondition Smart Charger

The most modern and straightforward way to recondition any car battery is using a smart charger. These devices are specially designed to recondition car batteries. Here is how you can conduct and use a smart charger:

  • Smart charges come with red and black clamps. You can use these to connect them to battery terminals.
  • Set the charger to Recondition Mode and then make the connection.
  • Remember: the black clamp goes to the battery’s negative terminal and the red one to the positive. Do not mix up!
  • Most batteries start working automatically once you plug them in. However, others require manual setups. You must set a low amperage in these smart chargers and leave them running for about 24 to 48 hours.
  • Once the battery is charged to its maximum potential, you can disconnect the smart charger.
  • The higher amperage is ideal if you want to charge the car urgently instead of reconditioning your battery.

This method does not require a lot of effort or investment. All you need is a smart charger, and there’s a bundle of smart maintenance battery chargers out there.

However, ensure that you get the right one because your selection will significantly impact how quickly and effectively your battery is reconditioned.

2. Using a 200A Charger to Recondition the Battery

This one is a bit dicey! So always take extra safety precautions and be more careful. This method involves using a 200A charger to bring your dead battery back to life.

Two hundred amperes, as exciting as it sounds, is a lot! And if things don’t go well, your battery can potentially explode. Hence, make sure that you do it somewhere open.

  1. Most of the process is pretty similar to using a smart charger. You have to connect the black clip to the negative terminal and the red one to the positive.
  2. Then, you must turn on the charger and allow it to run for 15 minutes or so.
  3. The battery should sit for around 40 minutes before you check the reading on the voltmeter.
  4. Suppose it indicates a voltage above 12.6; great! If it doesn’t, you can repeat the process.
  5. If the battery is dead, you might have to do it four or five times before it starts working. Just make sure that you allow the battery to settle down for more than 24 hours before testing it again.

Again, the most vital part of this process is selecting the correct charger. It should be powerful, reliable, and safe to use at home. Also, if you don’t have the right tools and space to conduct this method, let a professional do it.

3. Mixing Epsom Salt into your Battery Acid

How will Epsom salts make any difference in your battery, you ask? Well, the logic behind this procedure is that mixing distilled water with Epsom salts can dissolve the sulfate buildup inside your battery’s cells. This way, it can potentially return your battery to a fully functional state.

Here is how you can do it:

  • Pour out the battery acid from the six cells.
  • Take 283 grams or 10 ounces of baking soda and mix it with about a gallon of distilled water. Try doing this in small amounts.
  • Then, you can pour this mixture to fill each of the six cells.
  • Put the cap on and shake the whole battery.
  • Then, rinse it properly.
  • Next, heat some water to around 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Doing this will help the salt dissolve in the water quicker.
  • Then, add some Epsom salts and some of that heated water to a bowl. The quantities should be just enough to create a fluid mixture.
  • Take about a tablespoon of this resultant mixture and put it into every cell of your battery. Beware: you must not overfill it.
  • Finally, attach the battery to a trickle charger and set it to its lowest possible setting. Let it run from 24 to about 48 hours, and, hopefully, you will return to a fully operational battery.

This method is quite effective, but it is not a recommended one. So the best way to go about the situation is to try the first two methods. And if they don’t work, unless you have experience mixing chemicals before, you should just replace the battery instead.

Final Thoughts

No one likes throwing out or replacing a car battery, knowing that they have to spend effort, time, and money getting a new one. And for those who have batteries eligible for reconditioning, this guide is going to be a breakthrough!

If you have been struggling with a weakened or dead battery, run and check if you can bring it back to life. You might save yourself a couple of hours and several hundred dollars!

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Paschal Okafor is NaijaTechGuide Team Lead. The article How To Recondition A Car Battery That Doesn’t Hold Charge was written by NaijaTechGuide Team. The article was last modified: February 27th, 2022
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NaijaTechGuide Team
NaijaTechGuide Team
NaijaTechGuide Team is made up of Experienced Tech Enthusiasts and Professionals led my Paschal Okafor, a graduate of Electrical and Electronics Engineering with over 17 years of Experience writing about Technology. Some of us were writing about Mobile Phones before the first Android Phones and iPhones were launched.

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