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Car Battery Care and Inspection UPDATE 12/25/06

Updated on August 30, 2014

See, that is battery acid, bad

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OMG my car won't start....

If you drive a car and wonder about how it works and what gets it started in the morning, i'm about to tell you. Your vehicle has a bunch of things in it that move, turn, open, close, ect. But to do all of this, they all need power, and all the power comes from the battery. The battery is sort of like heart for the car. It is what makes that starter get your car running every morning. Without it, your car would not be able to do anything at all, besides open a door or other latched or hindge parts.

Your car battery is basically just like any other battery, it has two terminals one positive and one negative. Car batters have ratings on them called cranking amps (CA) and cold cranking amps (CCA). Cranking amps is basically how much amperage your batter puts out when you're turning on your vehicle. Cold Cranking Amps is much more important because it is how much cranking amps your batter can put out when it's 32 degrees F. So when it's cold you want to have a higher CCA battery because when it freezes you car may not start.

So that was a quick overview of how it works, now ill tell you how to take car of it, and by it, I mean your battery. A battery has a bunch of lead walls in it and they produce chemical electricity by mixing and moving acid around inside. But when your car bounces around a lot these lead walls loosen up, break off, and can cause your battery to die quickly, or not operate and leave you stranded. To reduce vibration of your battery make sure that your battery is securely strapped down, usually cars have some sort of bracket or tie down to hold it in place. Just make sure to check that it's still there from time to time or that it hasn't become loose.

Another way to keep good care of your battery is to keep it properly charged. To keep it charged right run the vehicle for about an hour at least one time a week. If you drive normally then you don't have to worry about it. By running the car the alternator generates electricity and runs it back to the battery and charges it. Letting your battery die by leaving the key on or the lights and then having to jump start it all the time is bad for your battery, you shouldn't put your battery in such extreme conditions. It needs to have a constant voltage.

Now we can talk about inspection for your battery. It's pretty simple, if you car takes a long time to crank over and feels slow, or it doesn't crank over at all, chances are your battery is bad. If your battery is bad it can still turn on the car, it just may take longer. If you feel your battery may be bad, just take it to your local auto shop and have them test it, they usually don't charge you for it, or charge very little. If it's bad they are very easy to change, just take off the two battery cables, and then remove the holding bracket. When taking off the battery leads, make sure to take the negative (black) lead off first then take off the positive (red). Then when you re install the cables you need to put the red on first then the black last. If you do it backwards there is a chance you could mess up a computer. Dropping batteries is bad, do not do that, you could break open the case and cause acid to leak out. NEVER TOUCH ANYTHING CONDUCTIVE ON THE NEGATIVE AND POSITIVE POST AT THE SAME TIME. You can cause a fire or make a batter go boom, and by boom, I mean explode. Remember, if you have a bad battery, then you're screwed because your car won't do much after that. Take out your heart and see what happens.

If you pop open your hood and see a bunch of blue, yellow, or just weird looking powder on your batter post. That is acid, and that is bad. That means acid has leaked from your battery and is eating away at your battery post and cables. You need to clean this right away with water and a wire brush. You can buy special battery acid neutralizer but water usually will do the trick. Be sure not to inhale any of it because it's not good for you and also it can eat through your clothes after you wash them. If you clean it and the acid comes back, then I recommend replacing your battery and buying battery protectors which sit on your battery post to help keep acid from forming. Acid can build up and go into your battery cables and cause resistance in your electrical systems causing your car to act funny.

So there you have it, some quick simple battery tips for your car. If you have any questions just leave a comment or e-mail me and i'll get back to you, remember, I'm in auto.

~~~~~~~~Update 12/25/06~~~~~~~~

So its Christmas and this morning i popped the hood on my girlfriends mom's car and was petrified to see that her battery had a ton of acid on it. I wasn't at work so i have none of my tools to clean it, but have no fear, J-Dawg's secret tricks are here. If you plan on cleaning the acid off your battery, all you have to do is get a large bowl or something of water, add about a tablespoon of baking soda to it per pint of water and mix it up. After you have your special solution then just pour a little bit all over the acid and it starts to eat it away, then get an old toothbrush or something of that nature and just scrub away at the acid. You may need to keep rinsing the acid off of the battery but eventually it will all go away. Battery Acid is just that, acid. If you know anything about chemicals and so forth you know that base chemicals are the opposite of acid and when you mix them they react and eventually become neutral. Anyway, so the baking soda in the solution i told you to make will eat away at the acid and clean it all off, it's just a little secret i have for you if you ever plan on cleaning your own battery. Its really simple to do and i highly recommend everyone checking their battery condition and just cleaning it real quick, takes about 15 minutes. Anyway, Merry Christmas and take care of those cars, they need the love and will reward you if you take care of them.


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    • YoJDawg profile image

      YoJDawg 5 years ago from Arroyo Grande

      It sounds like your battery is toast. Batteries can get messed up if they are on their side. I recommend getting a new battery because even if your car were to start, it doesn't have enough fluid to work properly.

    • profile image

      joe 5 years ago

      I took my battery up to get recharged and it was accidentally stored on its side and i found it had leaked a purple colored solution. I expect it is water and acid. Will this be problematic? They said i had a charged battery but when i took it home my car still would not start, so i think the battery is damaged and not able to keep a charge necessary to start the engine. Any thoughts?

    • YoJDawg profile image

      YoJDawg 6 years ago from Arroyo Grande

      you can but i highly do not recommend it. Batteries are not made to be on their side, it will cause the acid and the plates to shift and break apart, it would work for a little bit but I do not recommend doing it at all.

    • profile image

      Brus 6 years ago

      can you use a car battery on it's side?

    • profile image

      μεταχειρισμενα αυτοκινητα 6 years ago

      Battery is one of the most important part of the car.It should be properly taking good care.Check the condition atleast once a week.I own a second hand car (?????????????? ??????????)and yes it condition is good because i always make time to check it every now and then.

      Your hub was informative,reading this it worth it.

    • YoJDawg profile image

      YoJDawg 6 years ago from Arroyo Grande

      The blue stuff is acid. Batteries get their ability to store and create electricity from the chemical reactions of acid in the battery.

      Your battery is having problems with storing the energy and now it is leaking acid. Your battery is either bad or will be bad soon. You can clean it up by mixing water and baking soda which neutralizes the acid and cleans it off. I would take it to a shop and have it tested. Good luck with the snow.

    • profile image

      beth 6 years ago

      my car was left in a parking in up state NY for 8 days. Now of course the car won't start and there's blue powder around the top of the battery. It was towed 6 hrs up and 6 hrs back. what is all the blue stuff and doi need a new battery. thanks

    • profile image

      Omid 7 years ago

      That was really helpful instructions and tips. I have had a bad battery and later day it didn't crank the starter motor. I did a jump start and i let the engine ran for half an hour. By the way it is a new car and i didn't expect that but i figured out we shouldn't let the engine run for less than 20 minutes. I just worried about my battery if it is in good condition now or not.

    • profile image

      arshumum 7 years ago

      nice tips on car battery, i use to get so much stuck up with the battery during winter time

    • YoJDawg profile image

      YoJDawg 8 years ago from Arroyo Grande

      battery acid is caused by a leaking battery. Batteries are full of acid and sometimes batteries will lose their seal from being banged around or just long usage. Every battery leaks eventually, even if you can't see it. Best thing to do is just to clean it and spray a protector on the post that sometimes will slow the acid build up.

    • profile image 8 years ago

      Why do battery post develop acid around them? THANKS

    • profile image

      tv bracket 9 years ago

      The battery shown in the picture looks like a zombie.. It supposed to be dead, but somehow still alive :D Joking LOL You should have it replaced every 2 or 3 years at the latest.

    • Misha profile image

      Misha 9 years ago from DC Area

      LOL Time to time I manage to find some bit of info I can add to yours. Last century tip would be to cover battery terminals with vaseline to prevent corrosion.

    • profile image

      sipoom99 9 years ago

      Hey, I have used only hot water , 1 time /month

      it's ok ,and life of battery is about 2 years.

    • profile image

      Mr Car Parts 10 years ago

      do not forget baking soda. Works great then clean with water.

    • profile image

      car auctions 10 years ago

      Thanks for the great advice.

    • profile image

      ED 10 years ago

      Question: How long do you run a car after using a charger or booster cables to start a car in order to fully charge the battery? Or to partially charge a battery so that it will restart a car 24 hours later, Thanks, Ed

    • profile image

      yblue 10 years ago

      Thanks a lot YoJDawg.

    • YoJDawg profile image

      YoJDawg 10 years ago from Arroyo Grande

      it probably has a battery draw. There is a way to test for it but it takes a while and is sort of complicated. Unless you know how to work on cars i'd recommend you take it to a shop for a battery draw test.

    • profile image

      yblue 10 years ago

      YoJDawg, thanks for your article. My car becomes hard to start when siting for a day or two. It usually takes a lot of cranks to start and the crank sounds weak. I took my car to O'Reilly Auto Parts and Advanced Auto Parts because they have free battery testing. They gave me different results. O'Reilly told me the battery is bad. But Advanced Auto Parts told me that the battery looks fine because the discharge-recharge test showed the battery can recharge back to 12V. Advanced said it might be something that slowly draws the energy from the battery. Do you have any idea? I will take it to mechanics someday.

    • ebourne profile image

      ebourne 10 years ago from Washington, D.C.

      This article was helpful to me, as yesterday my car battery died because a light was left on in the car. I will take my car to mechanic and have the battery checked. I also have to get the radio/CD player reset. Thanks for the useful info.

    • profile image

      wajay_47 10 years ago

      Another bad thing about jump starting a car is that it sometimes will damage the diodes in the car's alternator or damage the voltage regulator, which is located inside the alternator housing on some models. Good hub.

    • profile image

      Ben 10 years ago

      Good ideas. Most batteries are often one of most over looked parts of any vehicle.