Car Battery | How To Guides

How to Recondition A Car Battery-8 Simple Steps

Table Of Contents

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I think sometimes we take our car batteries for granted.  They have no moving parts and remain largely unseen until something inevitably goes wrong.  That one time we go to start our car and it doesn’t want to do it.  Then the battery becomes the focus of our attention.

Our first inclination is to run to the store or to Amazon and order up a new battery.  But what if we didn’t have to do that?  What if we could somehow salvage our poor used battery?  

It is possible to recondition your car battery and have it be in working order for several more years.  True, reconditioning your car battery will not help you in an emergency situation, but with some planning, you could set yourself up very well.  

What Does It Mean To Recondition a Battery?

Let’s, first of all, understand why a battery needs to be reconditioned.  As your car battery ages and gets used it suffers from a process called sulfation.  

Basically, what this means is, as your battery discharges and recharges sulfate builds upon the positive plates inside the car battery.  This build-up of sulfate reduces the overall capacity of the battery.  When the battery recharges it takes longer and the temperatures inside the battery are higher reducing the efficiency of the batter.

Reconditioning the battery removes the sulfate from the battery plates, allowing for a more efficient charge and renewed battery life.  Reconditioning a car battery also strengthens the electrolyte chemicals in the battery, restoring the battery’s strength to nearly 100%.

These sulfates can damage the plates inside the battery.  Reconditioning does can not repair or replace missing pieces of plate, it can only remove the sulfates that have built up on the plates.

Can Car Batteries Be Refurbished?

We use batteries for everything.  From our cell phones, laptop computers, remote controls, and our cars.  Batteries have become an integral part of our life.  When our batteries die we simply throw them out and replace them with new ones.  This is an expensive prospect with car batteries.  

Healthy Car Batter

So the question is, can car batteries be refurbished.  The answer is ‘YES’, car batteries can be refurbished to nearly full capacity depending on the age of the battery.  You don’t even have to wait until a battery is nearly dead to refurbish it.  You can recondition a car battery that is only a year or two old and extend it’s life well past the five years that they normally last.

Before you try to recondition a car battery, perform a visual inspection of the battery.  Is the battery cracked?  Or does the battery have a bulge?  Are the terminals broken?  If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, it is not safe to recondition this battery.  You should look for an alternative or purchase a new battery.

After this quick evaluation, it is time to begin.  So the question is now, how do I recondition a car battery?  Let’s walk through the process.

How to Recondition a Car Battery

Reconditioning a car battery is not a difficult process.  You just need some simple household chemicals, safety gear, and a few tools.  Here is a list of the items you will need.

Clothing and Safety:

  • Protective Clothing or Apron
  • Safety Goggles / Face Shield
  • Gloves (Chemical Resistant)

Specialized Items:

  • Battery Charger
  • Voltmeter
  • Load Tester (For Best Results)

Basic Items:

  • Funnel
  • Two Large Buckets Plastic is fine
  • Distilled Water
  • Epsom Salt (One (1) Pound)
  • Baking Soda (One {1} Pound)
  • Steel Wool
  • Old Tooth Brush
  • Battery Terminal Cleaner (Preferred)
  • Toolkit with Flathead Screwdrive

Car Battery

How to Recondition a Car Battery

  1. Prepare Yourself

    Safety Gear

    Before you do anything to recondition an old car battery you need to prepare yourself first.  Put on all of your PPE (personal protective equipment).  You will be working with chemicals and don’t want to get any on your skin or in your eyes.  It’s not
    pleasant.    
    Also, just in case of spills make a mixture of baking soda and water.  This will neutralize any acid that may fall on the table or floor.  A 2:1 ration of baking soda to water will be sufficient

  2. Prepare the Battery

    Battery Terminal Corrosion

     Items for this step:
    Protective Equipment
    Baking soda solution
    Toothbrush
    Steelwool or battery Terminal cleaner

    The first thing that needs to be done is cleaning off the battery.  It may have some greenish white build up around the positive and negative terminals.   How to do this?

    Mix some of the baking soda and water together, enough to pour the solution on top of the terminals.  The 2:1 ratio will be fine here; you are looking for the consistency of a runny paste.  I always poured the solution onto the terminals.  However, you could use the toothbrush to apply the solution.
     
    There will be a chemical reaction at this point.  Don’t be alarmed, this is normal, it just means that the solution is working. 
     
    Using the steel wool, toothbrush, or battery terminal cleaner, clean the positive and negative terminals completely.  Rinse them off with the solution and make sure any heavy deposits are gone.  Now wipe and dry off the terminals and prepare for the next step.

  3. Check the Battery Voltage

    Voltmeter

    Items for this step:
    Voltmeter

    This step will determine if you need actually need to recondition the battery or if you need to replace the battery.  Familiarize yourself with the voltmeter operation, you will need it in this step. 

    After the corrosion is gone and the terminals are clean and have good connectivity, you can test the battery voltage.  Attach the voltmeter to the battery.  This is just like jump-starting a car.  The red cable goes to the positive terminal and the black cable goes to the negative terminal.  

    Check the reading if your battery reads adobe 12.6v then you are done.  Your battery is still in good condition and doesn’t need to be reconditioned.  If your battery reads between 10.5  and  12.6 volts the battery is sulfated and a prime candidate for reconditioning.  Less than 10.5 volts and it has a dead cell and may need to be replaced.

  4. Time to Empty the Battery:

    Drain Dead Battery

    Items for this step:
    Screwdriver
    Large Bucket
    Baking Soda

    I know it’s not a car battery, but I think it gets the idea across.

    The purpose of this step is to get all of the old electrolyte solution out of the battery cavity.  Be careful during this step because you are working directly with battery acid. Avoid getting it on your skin or in your eyes. Safety goggles and gloves on now!

    Carefully remove the top cap from the battery with the screwdriver.  Place the caps off to the side. Very carefully, you are going to pour the electrolyte solution into the large bucket.  Pour away from you and slowly so as not to spill any of the battery acid. 

    Once the battery is empty, pour a half a pound of baking soda into the electrolyte solution, this will neutralize the acid.  Once it is neutralized it can be safely disposed of.

  5. Clean the Battery Cells:

    can my car battery get wet

    Items for this step:
    Same bucket as previous step
    Baking soda and water solution
    Funnel

    Now it’s time to get the sulfates out of the battery cavity and clean the cells out.  Take the baking soda and distilled water mixture and with the funnel pour it into each of the cells of the battery until it is full.
    Replace the plastic lid of the battery and make sure it is secure.  Then shake the battery.  The battery is going to be heavy, but you need to shake it for at least a minute, two or three minutes would be optimal. Remove the caps once again and dump the water and baking soda solution into the waste bucket.

  6. Replace Electrolyte in Battery Cells:

    Items for this Step:
    Epsom Salt
    Boiling water
    Clean Funnel
    Clean Bucket

    This is the money step, you are going to replace the electrolytes in the battery cells and you are going to manufacture your own electrolyte, with the Epsom salt.  Here is how to make the Epsom salt solution.

    First, you need to boil some water.  The ratio you are looking for here is about 4 oz. of Epsom salt to 4 cups of water (120 grams to 1 Liter).  Boil the water and place it in a clean bucket.  Then slowly stir in the Epsom salt until the water is clear.  Boiling the water dissolves the salt better but it is not necessary.

    This mixture does a number of things to your battery. 1) It keeps the plates inside the battery from sulfating which leads to a longer life.  2) It increases the amperage and raises the voltage to your car, basically restoring it back to its former power.

    The second step; with the funnel refill the battery cells and replace the cap. Shake the battery a little more to evenly distribute the Epsom salt solution.  This step is done.

  7. Time To Charge the Battery:

    car battery charging

    Items for this step:
    Battery
    Battery Charger

    Now comes the big wait, its time to recharge the battery.  It is important that this is done slowly and with low power.  We don’t want to heat the battery up and damage it again.

    Set your battery up in a stable area and remove the caps once more.  This will keep the Epsom salt solution from heating up and damaging the battery.  Place the battery charger as far away from the battery as possible.  Connect the leads, red wire to the positive and black wire to the negative.

    The battery charger should be set to 12V / 2 amps.  Then the battery should be left to charge for 36 hours.

  8. The Proof is in the Pudding (Time to test the battery)

    Car Battery

    Items for this step:
    Battery
    Voltmeter

    Attach the voltmeter as it was before, the red lead to the positive and black to the negative.  What does it read?  If your voltmeter reads 12.43 V the battery is all set to be tested.  Awesome!
     
    What if it doesn’t read 12.43 V?  In this case, allow the battery to continue charging for another 12 hours.  Replace any fluid that may have overflowed and try again later.

    When the battery reads 12.43V it is ready to be tested.  Remove the charger and reassemble the battery.  Now you can do this in two ways; one way is to use a load tester.  This will give you a clear digital reading in an easy to view format.  

    The second way to load test the battery is to use your car as the load test.  Reconnect the battery to the vehicle.  Turn the key in the ‘ON’ position and then turn the high beams on.  You can turn the radio and fan on as well to really test your reconditioned car battery out.  Allow it to run under this load for a few minutes. Do not turn the car on yet. 

    Test the battery on the voltmeter again while it is under load, it should read 9.6V.  If it does, congratulations, you have successfully reconditioned your car battery.  Drive safe.  What if it doesn’t read 9.6V?  This means that the battery isn’t fully reconditioned and that further steps need to be taken.

How to Use a Voltmeter or Multimeter

Just in case you need a quick lesson on how to use a voltmeter, here is a quick video on how to use one:

What if the Reconditioning Process doesn’t work the first time?

There is a possibility that the reconditioning will not take the first time you attempt it.  There are several options that you have.  

The first option is to allow the battery to sit on charge for another 12 hours or so.  If any of the electrolyte solution has spilled over, clean it up, and refill the battery cell.  After charging another 12 hours try the load test again.

The second option is to drain the battery completely and charge it back up again.  There are several ways to do this.  One way is the manual way, turn the car into the ‘ON’ position, turn the high beams on, and allow the car electronics to drain the battery; much like the load test.  Another way is to use a special deep-cycle charger, this will discharge your battery and charge it back up again.  Either way will work.

After you have discharged and recharged the battery, try the load test again.  In my research, I found it is possible that you may have to cycle the battery more than once to get an acceptable voltage reading.  However, when you do, you will have a newly reconditioned car battery ready to go.

What Should You Do Now?

Now that you know how to recondition a car battery, there is one more step that you need to take. What if it were possible to be able to not only recondition your car battery, but also recondition all of your batteries?

How much money would that be worth to you? Check out the EZ Battery Reconditioning Course to learn how to recondition all of your batteries. Think of how many batteries you use.

  • Cell phone battery
  • Laptop Battery
  • AA, AAA, D, C

What if you could continuously reuse these batteries? Following the simple step by step instructions you will be able to recondition your batteries. Not only would there be less waste in the environment there will be more money in your wallet. The best part is there is a 90 day money back guarantee, if you are not happy.

Check out the video below to find out more:

How Long Does It take to Recondition A Car Battery?

There the short answer is it’s hard to say. The time it takes to recondition a battery depends on how long it takes you to carry out the steps mentioned above, as well as, the condition of the battery. This is also assuming you have all the materials and so on.

One thing you know for certain is it’s going to take at least 24 to 36 hours 2 recharge the battery. That time limit is the only thing that you have certain

The actual process on how to carry out the steps above is a different story. Assuming that you have all the materials required it should only take about an hour to conduct the reconditioning.

woman looking at watch

Of course, the first time that you recondition the battery it’s going to take longer.  You will move slower because you are trying to be more careful, after all, you don’t want to spill battery acid.  Figuring the electrolyte solution and becoming familiar with the process all takes time.

How Long Do Reconditioned Batteries Last?

This is the million-dollar question, isn’t it. Or at least the $150 question. How long will your reconditioned battery last? A reconditioned battery can last anywhere from a few weeks a couple years. Some claim that it can even double the life of a car normal car battery

Yet,  there are some factors that  determine the life of a reconditioned battery. What condition was the battery in before you reconditioned it?  How bad was the sulfication? 

How well was the reconditioning process performed? This is another factor that will determine the length of a reconditioned battery. Did you get the electrolyte mixture right?  d

Some claim to have refurbished younger batteries that hadn’t reached their five-year life shelf limit. they recondition them when they were at about 30 to 40%. In theory this will prolong the life of a battery because you’re taking the sulfates off the battery plates before there is to much build up.

Are Reconditioned batteries any good?

In my humble opinion recondition batteries serve their purpose.  My father used reconditioned batteries for his trucks.  If you are not going far from home and need a battery for your car, then they are a viable solution.

Now, if I am taking a long road trip, moving, or going on vacation, I may think twice about using a reconditioned battery.  Reconditioned batteries are not at 100% and have a higher probability of failure.  So if I am going to be away from home, I would opt for a new battery.

Final Thoughts…

If you have made it this far, congratulations. Hopefully, you have successfully reconditioned your car battery. If you have given it your best effort and still your battery won’t hold a charge, it may be time for a new battery. Check out my new battery guide over here to find the right one for you.

Safe Travels…

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