Battery Reconditioning: How to Recondition a Battery
The Step-by-Step Guide on How to Recondition a Battery Like a pro and save $100’s per year along the way.
If you had a car that is older than 5 years you probably already encountered problems with its battery. If not, you‘re lucky, but sooner or later, your battery will die. It‘s inevitable.
The good news is, there’s no need to stress about it too much. Because more than ever, we now have easy methods on how to recondition a battery and bring it back to life.
Today I‘ll explain everything you need to know about battery reconditioning and how you can recondition a battery even from home.
So, what's battery reconditioning anyway?
In plain and simple words battery reconditioning means reviving a dead battery, and bringing it back to life. This happens by improving the charging capacity of old or dead cells. Different batteries require different methods of reconditioning but almost all batteries can be reconditioned as long as they aren‘t physically damaged.
Will a reconditioned battery be as new? Yes and no. A refurbished battery that was weak or dead before will never be as brand new. However, a battery can be reconditioned to a very good condition. I would say you can recondition a battery up to 70%-80% prime power and capacity. Sometimes even more.
Reconditioning batteries will revive them as close to new as possible. You can recondition batteries multiple times, saving you $100’s if not $1,000’s of dollars because you won’t have to buy new and overpriced new batteries.
Battery reconditioning is very easy and requires just a few simple tools. Anyone that is willing to put a bit of effort can learn it. Just follow the steps in this article or go through the EZ battery reconditioning course and you are ready to recondition your batteries.
Why do batteries die?
With cars, battery problems are the most common reason for car breakdowns. And also with other type of battery, be it golf cart batteries, laptop batteries, smartphone batteries, or any other type of battery, they’re just not designed to last forever.
You most certainly experienced a new device (e.g. a new laptop or smartphone) lasting long in the beginning, but after a while you have to charge it every day…
And these are some of the most common reasons why:
Corroded or loose battery connection – Whenever you have your engine running it charges the battery. A failed connection from the engine to the battery will not charge the battery. Most of the time this happens because the battery is either not connected properly or the connections have corroded.
Parasitic drain – This means some other devices are draining the battery when the engine is not running. The most common examples of the parasitic drain are trunk lights or glove compartment light left on. If there is a short circuit somewhere in the car it might also slowly drain the battery.
Alternator failure – Alternator is sending power to the battery to charge it. If it fails or underperforms for a reason, the battery doesn‘t charge properly and will eventually die.
Weak battery – A battery that is weak or in poor condition will lose charge much faster. Even the smallest drains like radio, LCD screens, or even the clock may kill a weak battery.
How does battery reconditioning work?
Battery reconditioning is basically the process of cleaning the batteries lead plates from corrosion/oxidation and then refilling back the sulfuric acid (electrolytes). Sounds simple? Because it is, everyone who has a bit of time, effort, and some simple tools can recondition their car battery at home.
However, just because it sounds so simple right now, it doesn’t mean it can’t be tricky. That’s why I recommend you watch this video tutorial to see what I mean:
If you own a car that is older than 4-5 years you most likely already encountered some kind of issue with your car battery. If you didn‘t, you‘re lucky, for now… Ask any mechanic and they will say that car batteries usually last 4-6 years depending on the battery type, car, and even climate.
So what do you do when your battery dies?
Most people just throw the old battery away and buy a new one. We are so used to consuming things and as soon as they become even slightly inefficient we from them away. We don‘t even think about how much we spend or harm the environment.
Fortunately, there is a solution. If the battery isn‘t damaged, I would highly recommend car battery reconditioning
What are the benefits of battery reconditioning?
Batteries are not cheap. An average, for example a typical car battery, can cost from $50 to $120 while premium car batteries go from $90 up to $200. That‘s quite a bit of money that could be saved if you would recondition your battery.
Let‘s do some quick maths. The average life-span of a car battery is 4-6 years. Let‘s say your battery dies after 6. You can recondition your car battery and bring it back to life.
Of course, it won‘t be as new and last 6 more years but should hold for 2-4 years. Do it again and maybe add 1-3 more years. This way we have added extra 3-7 years to your initially dead car battery and can save on almost a full new battery.
Save the environment
Lead car batteries contain very environmentally unfriendly chemicals like lead dioxide and sulphuric acid. Furthermore, most of the batteries have traces of silver and hard plastic casings.
Recycling of car batteries is a very complex and costly process and quite a lot of the time third world countries just throw the batteries into landfills expose chemicals to the environment. By reconditioning old batteries you can contribute to reducing toxic waste and be a bit more environmentally friendly.
Learn a new money-making skill
Why not learn a new skill. Battery reconditioning is a niche skill. By learning how to recondition batteries at home you can save your own money and then recondition someone else’s batteries. Everyone has a car, so why wouldn‘t they want to save some money? This in time could turn into a nice side hustle or even a full-time business!
How dangerous is it to recondition a battery?
Great question! Glad you asked…
Batteries can be very dangerous and toxic if not handled properly. Make sure you always have proper safety equipment before handling any type of battery. Always wear goggles and maybe a face shield to prevent acid splashes on your eyes or face. Gloves are also a must since we will have to lift, pour, and touch the batteries. Additionally, it‘s important not to expose skin to a potential acid splash. Long sleeves and pants, no shorts or t-shirts!
When you start to work on a battery and see that it is or might potentially be damaged stop the reconditioning and properly dispose of it. A damaged battery is a big health and safety threat.
How to recondition a battery at home?
I‘ve prepared a list of items you need for car battery reconditioning and easy to follow steps from start to beginning. Don‘t rush and always remember, safety first!
- Disposable rubber gloves
- Screwdriver (flathead)
- Battery charger
- Plastic funnel
- Two large plastic buckets
- Distilled water
- 1 pound of Epsom salt
- 2-3 pounds of baking soda
- Steel wool
- Small brush or a toothbrush
How it works: Step-by-Step
Step 1. Wear protective gear and prepare equipment:
Make sure to properly wear your protective clothing so your skin is not exposed to potential splashes. I would also advise mixing some baking soda with distilled water to have a neutralizing solution ready in case of unexpected spills.
Finally, always make sure that you are working in a place that has very good ventilation like an open garage or just outside. Extra points if you have a fan blowing if some fumes or chemicals come out of the battery.
Goggles, gloves, mask, and apron on? Ok, we can move further.
Step 2. Prepare new electrolyte solution:
Prepare Epsom salt and distilled water solution. We use distilled water because it doesn‘t have any unnecessary chemicals that might interfere with sulphuric acid or anything else in the battery.
Boil a gallon of distilled water and pour 10-12 ounces of Epsom salt. Make sure you dissolve the salt completely.
Step 3. Clean the battery terminals:
Prepare a small batch of water and baking soda paste (2:1 water to baking soda ratio). Use a small brush or a toothbrush to clean the corrosion from the battery terminals with the paste. If corrosion is really hard you can use steel wool.
Step 4. Check battery voltage:
Let’s read the voltage of the battery. Grab your voltmeter and put the red wire to the positive battery terminal and the black wire to the negative terminal. Make sure the voltmeter ends are properly pressed to the terminals for an accurate reading.
If your voltmeter is showing 12.6V or higher your car battery is in good condition. Anything under 12.6V most likely needs reconditioning.
Step 5. Pour old sulphuric acid out and neutralize it
Take your flathead screwdriver and pop of battery caps. Now carefully lift your battery and pour out the electrolyte solution (sulphuric acid) into a plastic bucket. Measure 10-15 ounces of baking soda and dump it into the bucket with the electrolyte solution. This will neutralize it so you can safely dispose of it.
Step 6. Flush out the battery:
Take your battery outside, turn it on the side and flush it with a stream of water (I just used a hose). We want to try and flush out any lead pieces from the bottom of the battery so there is no bridging between the plates.
Turn it upside down and let it drain.
Step 7. Clean corroded battery plates with baking soda:
Now we take around 10 ounces of baking soda and mix it in a gallon of water. Pour it into the battery through a funnel. Just be careful you might see and hear bubbling and fuming.
That is baking soda cleaning the corrosion on the plates! Be careful and don’t get splashed. Put the caps on and shake the battery a little bit. Pour everything into a different plastic container. You will see how much sediment will come out!
You can repeat this step twice for better results.
Step 8. Refill the car battery with the new electrolyte solution:
Take your Epsom salt solution (electrolytes) and carefully pour it into the battery. Fill it up and put the caps back on it. Clean the top of the battery so it‘s dry.
Now take the battery and shake it gently for a good 20-30s so all the plates inside are fully covered.
Step 9. Low charge the battery for 24-36 hours:
Now we need to put the battery on a low charge. Take your battery charger and put on 12V 2 amp triple charge. The lower the amps the better, we want to charge the car battery as slowly as possible, usually 24-36hours.
We also want to pop the battery caps off because the charge and new solution creates some gas (that‘s why we work in a ventilated area).
And you are done!
After it finished low charging use your voltmeter again to check battery voltage. Most of the time batteries that aren’t physically damaged can be reconditioned for around 2-4 times before the plates corrode completely and should just be disposed of.
If you want a more in-depth course on how to recondition any battery check out this video (Click Here to Watch!)
Frequently asked questions
Does reconditioning a car battery work?
Yes! Almost all non-damaged car batteries can be reconditioned for 2-4 times. Reconditioning car batteries saves money, reduces harm to the environment, and just allows you to use and enjoy your device that might not have a battery replacement any more.
How does car battery reconditioning work?
Reviving a battery that does not hold a charge is basically cleaning the lead plates that are corroded/oxidized. The corrosion does not allow sulphuric acid and plates to get good contact and fail to hold the charge. By cleaning the corroded plates with baking soda you allow better connection and the battery can hold a charge again.
Can you recondition the car battery unlimited times?
No, because corrosion is basically lead plates turning into oxide. So every time you clean them you take a part of the plates away. In turn after 2, 3, or 4 times of reconditioning the plates get too thin and just can‘t properly perform its purpose.
Do refurbished car batteries work as brand new?
Yes and no. A refurbished battery that holds charge properly will work as new. However, it will become less efficient much fast than a new car battery. Meaning you will have to recondition your battery again sooner or replace completely.
As you can see reconditioning a car battery is not hard at all and doesn‘t cost a lot. Instead of spending $70-$100 dollars on a new car battery, you can spend $15-$30 dollars for the ingredients for battery reconditioning.
If you still don‘t feel confident you can recondition your car battery yourself and want to gain more knowledge about the topic consider taking EZbatteryreconditioning courses.
They have a ton of amazing tips and courses on how to recondition not only car batteries but any batteries you might find in your household.