Regardless of how expensive your car battery is, it will eventually lose its charge and stop working sometimes. Over time, car batteries stop working, become less efficient, or even bulge enough to damage your car from the inside.
Car batteries do not come cheap, and most people don’t want to just throw them away once they stop working. Fortunately, you can revive your battery once it stops working by reconditioning it. Although handling a car battery oneself might feel daunting to some people, they can easily do it at home. In this article, we discuss how to recondition car batteries at home.
How to Recondition a Car Battery in 7 Steps
1. Prepare the Battery
Before you start, you must wipe the battery terminals to clean them, but don’t forget to wear gloves while you do it. Car battery terminals may have a lot of corrosion on the posts. Cleaning all traces of this corrosive surface is essential to make the battery functional.
Depending on the battery type, these posts may have a different size and post configuration. So, it’s best to be familiar with these components before you start reconditioning your battery.
After that, add baking soda to distilled water and mix it until the mixture turns into a runny paste. You must apply this to the posts and take steel wool to clean the area. If you want to rub corrosion off the sides of the post, you can use a toothbrush to clean any area that’s difficult to reach.
It’s common for this mixture to start foaming so don’t be surprised if it does. Once you are done, wash the subject area with a little more water and baking soda. If the corrosion is wiped off completely, wipe the posts off, and give it time to dry completely.
2. Check the Battery Voltage
It’s now time to check the voltage of the battery using a voltmeter. Voltmeters aren’t expensive and you can easily get at your local store. Since they are relatively simple to use, it won’t be difficult to work with them.
Connect the wires of the voltmeter to the terminals. If the reading shows a voltage less than 12.6V, then reconditioning may prolong its life. Otherwise, a reading of 0 indicates that there has been a short circuit and you must replace it.
3. Empty the Battery
Before proceeding with this step, you must put on chemical-resistant goggles. Battery acid is strong and can cause severe burns. Gently get under the battery caps with a screwdriver. If you give the caps a small nudge, they will come off easily. Put a plastic bucket nearby so you can drain the acid into it.
Remember to point the battery away from yourself while pouring acid into the bucket. It’s okay if you’re taking time, as long as you don’t spill any of the harmful acids. After emptying the battery cells, stand it back up as you normally do. Pour half of a pound of baking soda into the bucket so the old acid is neutralized.
4. Clean the Cells
After you’ve emptied the cells, it’s time to mix half of a pound of baking soda with half a gallon of distilled water. Use a plastic funnel to pour the solution into each cell once you have mixed it properly.
After each cell in the battery is filled, you can put the caps on the battery again and shake it to neutralize the remnants of the acid inside them. The battery may heavy, but it’s important to shake it for a couple of minutes.
When you’re done, open the caps, as you had before emptied the cleaning fluid into the bucket. After this, the car battery will be ready for reconditioning and you only have to dispose of the waste liquids.
5. Recondition the Battery
Now, it’s time to refill the battery cells. Using a mixture of Epsom salts and water you can create your very own electrolyte. With the help of such an electrolyte, you can raise the amperage and increase the voltage your car receives from the battery.
The solution also stops the plates within the battery from sulfating, something that kills the battery more quickly. For your mixture, you can combine a mixture of boiling distilled water with Epsom salt. The best way to make this mixture is to have boiling water in a clean plastic bucket and slowly add Epsom salts while you stir.
When the water becomes clear, the electrolyte is ready for the battery. Take a clean funnel and use it to pour the electrolyte mixture into each cell. Remember to fill every cell until it’s 100% full. If some of it is left, you can use it later if such problems continue. After this, put the battery caps back on and shake it for a couple of minutes again. The car battery is now ready for being charged.
6. Charge the Reconditioned Battery
Remove the caps to ensure that the electrolyte solution doesn’t heat up or overflow. Building too much pressure in the battery can be harmful to you. Put your battery charger as distant from the battery as possible. Connect the positive battery terminal to the positive lead. Repeat the same on the negative end. The battery will slowly charge itself in approximately 36 hours.
7. Test the Battery
To test the battery, you have to use your voltmeter again. If the voltmeter shows a reading of 12.43V or more, you can start testing the batter. If the voltage reading hasn’t reached 12.43V yet, you should keep charging it for 12 hours additionally. If the electrolyte starts overflowing, you must remember to fill it back up.
As soon as the voltmeter gives a normal reading, remove the battery charger. Place the caps back on the battery and connect it to the car again. First, start your high beams on to check if the battery is functioning, but don’t start the car yet.
Allow the car battery to power the high beams for a few minutes. After that, use the voltmeter you take a reading again and see if it shows 9.6V or more. If the reading is under 9.6V it hasn’t reconditioned completely yet, and you must repeat the steps.
It’s also possible to cycle the battery first. If it stops working after the initial load test, you can discharge it completely and recharge it again. To drain the battery of power, simply leave the high beams of your car on.
You may have to cycle the cycle battery four to five times before getting the desired reading. However, once you do, you will have a fully functioning battery at a significantly less cost. If the result from the initial load tests isn’t right, then consider charging to draining off the battery’s charge and recharge it again for 24 to 36 hours additionally.
Are There Any Other Methods for Reconditioning Car Batteries?
Yes. The process of reconditioning a car battery can vary depending on the battery. This is why it’s important to know tricks for reconditioning all kinds of batteries. We recommend EZ Battery Reconditioning™ course to our readers.
The course defines a step-by-step system to recondition various types of old batteries by only using simple supplies at your home. It is extremely easy to follow and you can go through it without any hassle, even if you are not well-versed in technical stuff.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you recondition car batteries?
Most battery users throw away their old batteries and replace them with a new one believing that it won’t work again. Although batteries will become unusable at some point, most times you can revive them for further use.
The lead sulfate layer backs into the solution when exposed to higher voltages. Usually, running high voltage into a battery heats the voltage rapidly and creates a thermal runaway in some cases, leading to an explosion. This is why many batteries use a collection of short pulses of high voltage to prevent a single flow of current while reversing crystallization.
That said, using high-voltage pulses long-term can damage the battery plates if the batteries are wet. On sealed lead–acid batteries battery dry out and fail. This is why many users have different techniques for reconditioning different types of batteries.
How long does it take to recondition a battery?
Depending on the type and size of the battery, reconditioning a battery may take 36 to 72 hours. However, if you fail to carry out each step properly, it can delay the process even more
Why should you recondition batteries?
Car batteries can be expensive to replace. Reconditioning them can help you preserve their functionality and refreshing them can help you ensure if it works properly.
A car battery may be performing well now but it can fail later and you will have to experiment with different techniques to extend its life. This happens regardless of how much good care you give it. Reconditioning the battery doubles and even triple a battery’s life.
The simple repair saves a lot of money for the user. A new battery costs between $85 and $100, on average but a reconditioned battery costs a fraction of the price, saving users considerable money and providing y an average them with an ample amount of charge.
Besides that, we all have a part to play in preserving the environment. Lead, which is a major part of batteries and is extremely hazardous to the environment if you don’t dispose of responsibly. Reconditioning a single battery saves it from being condemned to the dump where it can leak chemicals and contaminate the environment. Since recycling batteries is extremely hard, opting to recondition is also better for the well-being of the planet.
Lastly, reconditioning the car battery is significantly more convenient. Since you no longer have to buy and replace batteries again. Ultimately, you’ll save considerable money and time and won’t have to hassle for new batteries in the future. Although initially reconditioning the battery will be tricky for some people, they can soon get the hang of it after a few tries.
How to restore a car battery with Epsom salt?
Prolonging the service life of an aging battery is considerably better if the additives are cheap as Epsom salts. These salts are readily available and can rejuvenate your battery with little effort. Epsom salts minimize the internal resistance within batteries to give them sulfated batteries a few additional months of life. Aside from Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate), suitable additives such as caustic soda and EDTA (a crystalline acid) can be used to recondition the battery.
When using Epsom salt, you should follow easy steps we have mentioned here to treat most starter batteries. You only have to heat approximately 8 fl oz (or a cup containing 250ml) of distilled water to 150ºF (66ºC).
Add as much as Epsom salt as the water can absorb which will roughly be a few tablespoons. It’s best to add this salt slowly and stir it until it dissolves. Keep in mind that you should avoid using excessive amounts of salt to prevent corrosion of the internal connectors and lead plates.
As you pour this warm solution into the battery, the Epsom electrolyte level will increase. Add as much electrolyte as much the battery can take and try to avoid overfilling.
You should also avoid putting un-dissolved Epsom salt directly into the battery since it won’t dissolve inside the battery.
Do reconditioned batteries work?
Yes. Reconditioned batteries can work well for a considerable amount of time. Instead of investing in new batteries, you should try to revive the batteries first. Reconditioning even works for other batteries, and you can try reconditioning laptop batteries, as well.
Does reconditioning a car battery work?
A car battery is not that different from other batteries and works well as long as it has been reconditioned properly.
Can you put vinegar in a car battery?
Yes, you can put vinegar in a battery as long as it is not sealed. However, expecting it to work as well as a sulfuric acid battery will leave you disappointed. Although vinegar is an acid, it is acetic acid and significantly different from the sulphuric acid.
Vinegar causes lead acetate to form inside the cell. These excess substances alter the normal function of the battery. Instead of adding two substances, just using distilled water can work well for your battery.
How do you rejuvenate a battery?
There are multiple ways to rejuvenate a battery. You can experiment with Epsom salt, caustic soda, and other techniques, but they don’t work well for every battery type.
Hopefully, we have shared enough information on how to recondition a car battery at home. This article shows you how you can recondition your batteries at home effectively by only using things you already have in your home.
If you want to learn more, we highly recommend our readers to take an extensive learning course on how to recondition a battery at home. Doing so will help you rejuvenate different types of batteries without a problem. EZ Battery Reconditioning™ provides a detailed course with easy to follow step-wise instructions on reconditioning different batteries in the market (read our detailed review here).