I receive frequent questions about batteries, battery care and installation. Here a few of the tips which I dispense when I answer.
Know your battery! Check your receipt, if you still have it, to learn the battery’s age. Batteries have a way of “aging” because, once installed, they are out of sight. One of my VW friends told a group of us recently that when he could not start his car, he inspected the battery and found it to be 10 years old! Well—that’s a ripe old age!
So get that detail out of the way first.
If you have a test meter, check the voltage on your battery. It should read at least 12.50 volts and as much as 12.7 volts, depending upon its age and charge. When a battery drops to 12 volts, it will not function as designed.
If you do not have a test meter and/or cannot charge a battery, it’s best to simply remove the battery and take it to a battery shop to have it tested and charged, if necessary. Battery shops can do it all, including selling a new battery if the need arises.
If your battery appears to need charging, remove it from the car. I like to use nitrile gloves when handling the battery, if it is of the liquid type, because it is more than likely to have some acid residue on it. Don’t get this onto clothing or anything else. Battery acid is ‘hungry”. I loosen and remove one of the cable connectors and push it out of the way of the battery so that it won’t stray onto the pole and spark. When loosening the connector bolt, do not allow the tool to touch metal and spark.
I like to use a large piece of cardboard box in an open area for doing the charging.
Place the battery onto the cardboard because the liquid will bubble into tiny mist-like droplets as the battery charges. The cardboard will catch these. Then dispose of the cardboard when the process is completed.
Clean the battery posts. If you do not have the tool for this, use sandpaper for the purpose. Make each pole nice and shiny.