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Tech Tip: Looking after your lead acid batteries

Looking after your lead acid chemistry batteries doesn’t have to be complicated. There are simple routines you can follow to extend your battery's life and ensure it performs reliably. Whether you’re traveling through the hot, dusty regions of Texas, navigating the rough, corrugated tracks of Nevada, or tackling the washed-out tracks and coastal runs in the southern regions, maintaining your battery is crucial.

Battery Cleanliness

First and foremost, keeping your battery clean is essential. Dirt, water, salt, and dust can accumulate on your battery, causing tracking between the positive and negative terminals. This can lead to your battery losing its charge faster than normal or even shorting out. Regularly cleaning your battery terminals is a straightforward way to increase battery service life. Ensure the terminals are tight and free from corrosion to enable efficient power transfer. If you notice a build-up of white, fluffy corrosion around your battery terminals, simply boil a kettle and pour the boiling water over the affected areas. Be sure to loosen and disconnect the terminals before doing so to ensure you remove every last bit.

Corrosion issues have reduced with the introduction of maintenance-free and semi-sealed batteries and smart vehicle alternator charging systems, such as temperature-compensating and variable-voltage alternators. Once the corrosion is removed, ensure the rest of the battery is clean. Perform some preventative maintenance by covering your battery terminals with a wax-type substance to coat and seal them, preventing future corrosion. An effective product for this purpose is a Battery Terminal Protector Spray, which helps seal the terminals and connections, protecting them from the elements.

Secure Batteries

Securing your battery is equally important. An unsecured battery can bounce around, potentially wearing a hole in its side, spilling acid, or short-circuiting against the chassis or other components, leading to fires. A simple battery hold-down clamp can solidly secure your battery, reducing the risk of damage.

Battery Conditions 

Monitoring your lead acid battery's condition is also crucial. A dash-mounted voltmeter, whether analogue or digital, allows you to keep an eye on your lead acid battery's voltage. Here are some basic guidelines for battery health vs terminal voltage:

  • 13.2 volts and above: Indicates a battery under charging conditions.
  • 12.7 volts and above: Generally indicates a fully charged battery.
  • 12.5 volts: Indicates a battery at approximately 75%.
  • 12 volts: Indicates a battery at approximately 50%. This is a cause for concern, and you should consider turning off some devices or finding a charging source quickly.
  • 10.5 volts: Your battery is flat. Never allow it to drop this low.

By following these simple battery maintenance steps, you can enjoy a stress-free adventure and avoid the dreaded “click, click, click” when you turn your truck key. Regular maintenance ensures your battery remains in top condition, providing reliable power on all your travels.


Article written by Mark Bruce, REDARC Electronics Technical Training and Development Manager – North America. Mark Bruce is a qualified Auto Electrician with over 35 years' experience in the trade and wholesale automotive electrical industry.  

For more technical advice and understanding your battery needs, speak with Mark directly by contacting us.