Reusing a car battery can save you money, and since batteries contain lead, the fewer batteries that are thrown away, the better for the environment. Testing and evaluating a used battery is crucial before you consider using it because if the battery is not dependable, you could find yourself broken down and needing a jump start or a new battery.
Cleaning the Battery
Before you do anything with the used battery, take some time to clean it up. Mix up a solution of baking soda and water and use a wire brush to clean the battery surface and the terminals to remove any corrosion. The baking soda will neutralize the acid if there is any on the outside of the battery. It will also clean any residue off the terminals to improve the contact between the battery and the cables in the car.
One you brush down the battery with the baking soda and water, rinse it off with clear water. A garden hose is excellent for this, and since the acid is neutralized, you can safely rinse it off in the driveway. Don't run the water into a storm drain, but the water and baking soda mix are not going to hurt the ground.
Testing the Battery
Once the battery is dry, charge the battery completely, and then, using a battery tester, check the voltage in the battery. The voltage should be around twelve point five but could be as high as thirteen point five. If the voltage is below twelve after charging the battery, the battery is not any good, and it should be recycled or disposed of properly.
If the battery passes the voltage test, the next step is to load test the battery. A load test will put a draw on the battery to mimic the starter in your car, and you need a battery load tester to do this test. You can rent a load tester at many auto parts stores for a few dollars and perform the analysis yourself, or you can take the battery to an auto parts store, and they can test it for you.
The load test will determine the cranking amps of the battery and then test the cold-cranking amps, which are vital if you live in an area that gets extremely cold in the winter. If the battery can sustain the amperage under load, the battery is okay to put in service in your car or truck.
Life of the Battery
There is no way for you to determine how long the used battery will last, but if you are on a tight budget, it can be an excellent alternative to buying a new battery for your car. If the battery lasts six months, it could at least last until you can afford a new one.
To learn more about used batteries, contact an auto parts store.