General Battery Maintenance
by Pat Goss
Dirty batteries on modern cars can be a true disaster. When the dirt builds up, this can actually upset the electrical system of the automobile and can lead to a lot of electrical system problems. Corrosion is included in that. That is really bad. But let’s suppose you’re into cleaning batteries. Maybe you’ve got all the tools that anyone would normally need to clean the battery cables and keep everything working properly. Well, that’s good, but there are some dos and don’ts here.
Number one, do not remove a battery cable until you own and know how to use one of these. This is a memory saver. It uses a 9-volt battery and it’s plugged into the cigarette lighter on the automobile, and this is going to keep a small electrical flow through the computers to protect their memory. Without this, you may wind up with a situation where you have to take your car to a garage to have some reprogramming done after you get through with your job. So make sure you use it.
Now, another thing that is very, very good is to use a battery terminal protector. Do this a couple of times a year. It gets sprayed onto the battery cable ends and it helps prevent corrosion. Now along with that, here we have another type of protector. These are made out of felt. We have one up here. It goes down over the battery post before the cable goes on. It’s treated with a chemical that helps reduce corrosion. They’re very desirable.
All right, but suppose you’ve been a little bit lax and the corrosion has really eaten into the ends of your battery cables. Well, be careful here. These are emergency replacement battery cable ends. Now granted, if you’re stranded you can put one of these on, and you can use it to get home or get to the repair shop. But it is not permanent.
If you have to use one of those, then when you get to a convenient spot, you have to use one of these, a proper battery cable. And remember, there are different sizes. The diameter of the wire varies from brand to brand. The minimum size is a number 4 gauge. That’s a relatively heavy wire. Well, also remember that the bigger the wire, the better, and the lower the number, the bigger the wire. So 4 is acceptable, 2 is better, and 0 is better yet.
If you have a question or comment, write to me. The address is MotorWeek, Owings Mills, MD, 21117.