Spring Battery Care & Feeding

Batteries are a critical part of the boating experience, so make sure yours are in good shape before launch day by following these simple steps.

DSC_0018_largeClean: Use some spray cleaner to remove dust and dirt from the battery housing. Also apply cleaner to the terminal posts and use a wire brush or terminal post cleaner to remove rust and corrosion from the threads. This ensures a good connection.

Check: If you have non-sealed lead-acid batteries, check the electrolye level (be sure to wear protective glasses). Add distilled water to cover the battery’s internal plates if necessary. Replace the port covers securely.

Charge: Charge the battery overnight using a 3-stage charger. Some older chargers can damage the batteries by overcharging.
Test: Use a volt multimeter to check the voltage of the battery at rest (open circuit). When fully charged it should register above 12.4 volts. (You should also test the battery later under load to be sure it is functioning properly). Re-check the battery after 24 hours to see if it holds the charge. If your battery fails to hold a charge of 12.4 volts or more, you may need to replace it. In general, marine batteries should be replaced every 4 or 5 years.

DSC_0023_largeInstall: Install the battery in the boat, making sure it’s secured with straps or bands to limit motion. Attach the leads and use a socket wrench to tighten the terminal post nuts (use nylon-insert locknuts, not wingnuts). Coat the posts and leads with dialectric grease and slip protective covers over the posts.