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Boats, Bikes & Batteries: Time to Spring Into Action

April 24th, 2014 by
Before going back on the water, check and recharge your battery.

Before going back on the water, check and recharge your battery.

Spring is on, and the great outdoors is calling. However, your fun times can’t start until the vehicle’s battery is ready.

Gale Kimbrough is Mr. Battery.

Gale Kimbrough is Mr. Battery.

All winter, the road warriors and wave riders have kept their toys covered. In both cases, the battery likely sat all winter connected to the vehicle’s electrical/electronic systems devouring a lot of power. Even when the battery’s disconnected and sits for several months, it loses power by self-discharge. So, unless it’s kept on a charger, it requires a recharge.

Want to make sure your summer has a good start? Interstate Batteries has four basic steps to help you get ready.

Check the battery’s voltage.

With all of the power turned off or battery disconnected, check the voltage level. Readings of 12.70-12.80 volts or higher mean the battery should be at or close to 100% state of charge. If it is below 12.60 volts, charge it. A battery at 12.35 volts is about 50% charged, and below 12 volts is 100% discharged.

Clean the connections.

The connections may look clean; however, oxidation has probably attacked the metal connectors during the winter months. Anything that comes between your battery’s terminals and your engine’s cables needs to be cleaned off.

Clean the battery case with baking soda and water, or an equivalent spray, to neutralize the acid. Rinse with distilled water and pat dry. After reinstalling the cables and connectors, apply a preventative terminal protector spray, available at an Interstate All Battery Center. This helps reduce corrosion and keep oxidation and moisture out.

You've washed it, waxed it and checked the tires. Just make sure it starts.

You’ve washed it, waxed it and checked the tires. Just make sure it starts.

Refill the water level.

Skip this step if you have a sealed flooded or an absorbed glass-mat (AGM) battery, which are fairly common for motorcycles, and they’re becoming more common in marine applications. Check the label to verify your battery’s chemistry.

On flooded or wet-cell batteries, remove vent caps and check the electrolyte levels. If they’re below the plates, refill the battery with distilled water until the plates are covered by at least a half inch. Don’t overfill! Never fill to the bottom of the vent well. The maximum level is about a quarter of an inch below the vent well. Also, anytime one or more cells require refilling, it likely requires recharging.


Recharge fully.

The chart above offers a general guideline. It’s easier to prevent overcharging if you use an automatic shut-off charger or equivalent.

Match a battery charger to your battery type. Some chargers are designed specifically for AGM batteries while others for flooded batteries.

FOR MOTORCYCLE BATTERIES, use a low-amperage charger, like 1-5 amps.

FOR POWERSPORTS AND MARINE BATTERIES, use a high current charger, like 5-20 amps.

These steps can make the difference between enjoying beautiful warm seasons and spending the weekend at home.

Need a new battery or some more expertise? Visit an Interstate Batteries marine dealer, powersports dealer or Interstate All Battery Center today.

By Gale Kimbrough (11 Posts)

As Manager of Interstate Batteries’ Engineering and Technical Services Group, Gale Kimbrough oversees technical training, product engineering, testing and validating electrical/electronic components.

Posted in All Battery, Maintenance, Marine, Motorcycles, Tips
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About The Outrageously Dependable Blog

Interstate Batteries® sells more than 16,000 kinds of batteries—from AA alkalines and automotive batteries to critical power solutions, and everything in between. Combine professional battery services, recycling programs and the largest battery distribution network in North America, and you’ll find Interstate has EVERY BATTERY FOR EVERY NEED®. Learn more about Interstate Batteries or shop online!

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