How to Fix a Dead Cell in a Car Battery
Finding yourself with a malfunctioning battery in the middle of a trip can be one of the most frustrating moments in your life. Add to that the stress of having to deal with the towing companies and/or disgruntled fellow drivers who don’t appreciate the traffic congestion that you are causing.
Fortunately for you, a dead battery is still salvageable. You can skip the step wherein you go ahead an buy a new battery. Battery Reconditioning usually adds another five years to your car battery’s lifespan. To help you, we’ve condensed the information you need into easy to understand sections.
The Symptoms of a (soon to be) Dead Car Battery
The typical 12-volt car battery is composed of six cells. These cells start your car by chemically producing voltage and amperage. However, when one or more of the cells fails, the battery will be unable to produce the required amperage to start your car. The items below are telltale signs that one or more cells of your car’s battery is dead or malfunctioning:
- Your car is slow to start, or “turn over,” to get the motor running
- Your car starts and runs fine but after being shut off for some time, has a hard time starting
The most likely explanation for this is that your car battery is not holding the charge that it gets from the alternator. To be sure, you can test the battery with the voltmeter, the most reliable way to determine if a battery is holding its charge.
If the voltmeter shows a reading of 12.4 volts or higher, your battery is fine and the problem is probably elsewhere. However, if it shows a reading below 12.4 volts, then your battery is most likely to be dying.
Once you’re sure that one of the cells of your battery is dead, you can now proceed to the next step: reconditioning.
Reconditioning or Refurbishing a Dead Cell
For first time car owners, the first impulse upon finding that one of the cells in your battery is likely dead, is to buy a new battery. While there’s nothing wrong with this, it is prudent to know that by reconditioning your battery, you can extend its life by another five years. Since new car batteries tend to cost up to $300, you can save a lot of money by doing this instead.
Also, some car shops buy dead car batteries at a much lower price from flustered car owners. These shops then recondition the batteries that they bought and then resell them at a much higher price. Fortunately for you, reconditioning your dead car battery can be done at home with the help of simple tools.
You will need the following.:
- – Drill
- – Screw Driver
- – Goggles
- – Distilled Water (half a gallon)
- – Neoprene Rubber Gloves
- – Battery Charger
- – Plastic Funnel
- – Turkey Blaster
- – Epsom Salt
Procedure for Reconditioning Your Car Battery
A well-ventilated area is needed for the refurbishing process. That area should be fireproof since the acids in the battery can catch fire while you are reconditioning if you’re not careful.
- Heat 1/2 quart distilled water to the boiling point, or about 150 degrees. Add 8 oZs (1/2 lb). of Epsom Salt (magnesium sulfate) to the boiled water and stir well. Keep stirring until the Epsom Salt is completely dissolved.
- Using baking soda and clean water to prevent contamination, clean outside of the battery. Be sure to remove the corrosion from the cable connections and the battery terminals.
- With the help of a screw driver, carefully remove the covers from the battery cells. First remove the top cover of a sealed battery, then remove the plastic caps and drill holes at impressions. Use a damp towel to eliminate the debris surrounding the battery holes.
- Remember not to use a metal funnel to fill the batteries with the solution because the metal will surely react to the acids. Fill the batteries with the solution that you earlier prepared. Once they’re completely immersed, replace the battery covers.
- Connect the battery terminals to the battery charger and charge it slowly for 24 hours. This process can be repeated up to three times consistently to improve the lifespan of the battery.
- You’re done. Now, the reconditioned battery is ready for your car.
- As an added step, it is advised that you discharge the battery at some intervals by turning on the lights inside the car or turning on the headlights. Then, you can recharge the battery using the steps above again.
As you can see, the reconditioning process is quite simple. Suffice to say, a lot of professionals are making money out of this process at the expense of those who are less knowledgeable. The money you saved can then be used for other purposes or you can save it for later use.
Safety Precautions to Follow
However simple the process is, there are still safety precautions that you need to do before, during, and after the process. We’ve listed some of them below:
1. Protective gear is a must
Don’t be deceived with the simple process, there are some people who suffer injuries while reconditioning their car batteries. Most these injuries include acid burns on the hands and acid spills on the eyes.
To prevent this, be sure to wear rubber gloves during the entire process. To safeguard your eyes, you should also wear protective glasses. To top it all, wear protective clothing to prevent acid burns. If already exposed to the acid, immediately wash the affected area using clean water.
2. Use a compatible battery charger
A compatible charger is needed when you’re recharging the reconditioned battery. The right battery charger should work with 12-volt batteries. Also, be sure to remove all jewelry and metal tools from the work area. Overcharging the battery is also a bad idea, even a small spark can cause an explosion.
3. Check the voltage first
As stated earlier, before trying to recondition your battery, you must check the voltage first. This is because if the voltage of your battery is less than 10V, it would be technically useless to proceed. You should just save time and buy a new battery. If, however, the voltage is between 10V and 12V, then you can consider refurbishing.
4. Be mindful of proper storage
Proper storage is important to the maintenance of your battery. It should not be exposed to direct sunlight while you are reconditioning it. Afterwards, the battery should not be stored in a hot location or expose it to direct sunlight.
5. Maintenance is key
When not in use for many weeks or even months, it is recommended that you keep the battery on a trickle charger and charge it frequently. This safeguards the battery from damage and somehow extends its lifespan.
Other simple things to consider include carefully reading the manual of your car before attempting to replace the dead battery. Also, if you must replace your battery, you should get one with the same voltage, ampere rating, and size. The wrong battery with the wrong dimensions will ultimately not work with your car. It can also damage your vehicle’s internal circuitry.
Want to read more on this topic? We’ve got some more amazing blog posts you’ll enjoy, check them out below:
If you’re still stuck, or want better instruction – here is a video to help you understand the process better:
For more Videos, Tutorials and More – Check out EZ Battery Reconditioning.
I’ve also got a full Review of EZ Battery Reconditioning here.