Sunday, March 18, 2012

Do You Need To Replace Electrolyte in Your Car Battery?

Q: Just recently I had to replace my car battery. Some weeks before, my battery bracket loosened and the battery shifted, knocking off one of the caps, which I didn't know until I needed a jump. I put regular tap water inside and replaced the cap. Tap water was all I had at the time. After that the battery continued to weaken until it needed to be replaced. Could I had put any of the following substances in the battery to extend its life? Gatorade (powder or liquid), salt, saltwater, baking soda, sea water, or distilled water.



A: Anything on your list would have damaged your battery instantly. Battery electrolyte is sulfuric acid and water, and a certain amount of the lead electrolyte in solution. How much Lead? Depends on the state of charge of the battery, so the possibility of mixing up a concoction to replicate the spilled electrolyte accurately is not easy.



The best replacement for spilled electrolyte is the other cells in the same battery. Get a battery tester or a clean large syringe, and equalize the level of electrolyte between the 6 cells. If this leaves all of them too low, which it will, you can now add an identical amount of fresh electrolyte purchased from the auto parts store to bring them up to the correct level.



Low electrolyte levels caused by normal electrolysis in the battery should be topped off with nothing else except distilled or demineralized water.



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