The last thing anyone needs is a car that won’t start because its battery is dead. You can avoid the expensive services or tow charges and the worry of being stranded on the way by carrying out a 10-minute seasonal battery check along with some other maintenance tips.

With a set of wrenches, you’ll only need a post cleaner or side terminal, a hydrometer and a cable puller all of them are available at auto parts stores. Keep in mind that you can skip the battery service if you make sure the mechanic does it during regular servicing, but you’ll have to keep up with the regular maintenance.

Clean corrosion from the battery

You must clean corrosion from the top of the auto battery first and then clean corrosion from around the battery cables. First clean the top of the battery and any corrosion from the cables by using a tablespoon of baking soda, a cup of water and a nonmetallic brush.

Flush it with cool water. Now start disconnecting the cables, with the negative one to prevent your wrenches from arcing on the nearby ground. Now loosen the battery cable clamp bolts and gently give them a twist. You can use a cable puller if they’re stuck.

Use a 5/16 box wrench to loosen the cables if you have a side post terminal. When the cables are removed, further clean off the corrosion around the auto battery terminals and cables with a post cleaner.

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Check the level of the electrolyte

Add water to fill the holes, if necessary: If the battery needs water, use clean, distilled water to add in the car battery and don’t overfill the cells. Gently remove the covers of the battery cells. The water and acid mixture in the battery should be about one and a half in deep or to the bottom of the fill hole.

If adding water to the car battery is necessary, always use clean distilled water, being careful not to overfill the cells, and then carefully inspect the battery case for cracks. If you find a crack in the battery, replace the battery. If you add water, let the water mix with the electrolyte for a few hours before moving to the next step.

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Check the condition and charge of the battery

Test the electrolyte in every cell with a hydrometer: To test the electrolyte in each cell, squeeze the ball on the hydrometer and put the solution into the tester. Hold the test level and record the reading and put the solution back into the cell. Test the electrolyte in each cell.

Carefully hold the tester level and note down the reading. The testers are calibrated assuming that the battery is at 80 degrees F. Add .04 to each reading for every 10 degrees at above 80 and subtract .04 for every 10 degrees below.

If you get a cell reading which differs from the others by .05 or more than replace the battery. A fully charged battery should have a reading of 1.265 or maybe higher. If all the readings show fair or low (1.200 is low) but are consistent than you might recharge the battery.

Remove the cables

You must disconnect the negative cable first and then the positive. Remove your battery hold-down clamp. Disconnect the negative cable first, then the positive. Always replace the battery with one which has a higher rating than the original.

CAUTION!

Always wear eye protection glasses and rubber gloves when working on batteries, and never smoke near them!

Replace the battery

Use the heavy-duty strap to carefully lift the old battery. Tie a heavy-duty strap to the ears on the side of the battery and gently take it out. Be careful, battery acid is very dangerous. Don’t drop it anywhere. Once the battery is out, clean the battery tray properly and replace it if it’s badly corroded. Batteries are heavy and need solid support!

Reinstall the clamp and cables

Before connecting the cable to the terminals connect the hold-down clamp. Carefully fix the new battery into place. Connect the hold-down clamp, then connect the cable to the positive terminal first and the negative in the last.

Put a little petroleum jelly onto the terminal before fastening the cable clamps to the posts. The grease will help slow ready for you to start the car and drive. Ask your supplier to see if your new battery needs charging before you use it.