MAINTENANCE FOR BEST PERFORMANCE
Older Vehicle batteries used to use lead-antimony plates, and would need regular water addition, to replace the water lost due to the chemical reaction of electrolysis that happened on each charge discharge cycle. Since newer batteries changed the “alloy” reactive element to calcium, most recent designs have a much lower loss of water, unless they get overcharged.
Most new batteries are designed with extra electrolyte that sits above the plates, which allows for liquid lost during the life of the battery. If your battery still has the easily detachable top caps, then you still might need to “top-up” the battery with distilled water from time to time. Since newer car batteries have less maintenance needed due to that change, they might not provide “openable” caps so you can add water to the cells. Most new batteries are designed with extra electrolyte that sits above the plates, which allows for liquid lost during the life of the battery. If your battery still has the easily detachable top caps, then you still might need to “top-up” the battery with distilled water from time to time. Overcharging the battery for long periods, or it getting charged at an excessively high voltage, can cause some of the water in the liquid electrolyte to get broken up into the component hydrogen and oxygen gases, which then can get out of the cells.
When the electrolyte liquid level ends up dropping too low, and the plates get exposed to air, the plates lose storage capacity, and up getting damaged. The sulfuric acid that helps the chemical reaction in the battery normally does not require replacement. It usually isn’t consumed, even when the battery is being overcharged. If you need to add water, please understand that chemical impurities or disinfectant additives in tap water will cut the lifespan of, and performance, of your battery. Battery makers almost always recommend use of demineralized or distilled water, since even consumable tap water often contains high mineral levels.
Batteries will last longer when they are stored “charged up”. Leaving your auto battery discharged shortens the battery’s life, or can even make it unusable. If you leave it for an extended period (several years); a chemical reaction called sulfation will eventually prevent the battery charging normally.
CHANGING A BATTERY
When you change your battery, battery makers recommend that you disconnect the ground connection first. This prevents accidental “short-circuits” between the battery terminals and the metal vehicle frame. Be careful if you work around your vehicle battery yourself.