8.1. Installing Car and Marine Starting Batteries

8.2. Installing Deep Cycle Batteries

While working with car or deep cycle lead-acid batteries, please wear glasses to protect your eyes in the unlike event of an explosion.

8.1. Installing Car and Marine Starting Batteries

Some vehicle manufacturers, BMW and VW/Audi, for example, or Start-Stop systems are using a Battery Management Systems (BMS) in some vehicles that require battery identification, so disconnecting battery terminals for cleaning or replacing a battery might disable the charging system. In most cases, if a memory keep alive tool is used, battery terminal(s) can be disconnected and the settings in the compter(s) will remain. If the replacement battery is a different battery type (such as upgrading to an AGM battery), CCA performance or capacity, the new battery might not be properly charged. Please check online, service manual, owner's manual or dealer before disconnecting a battery terminal to determine if an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) battery required or if a special OBD II scanning tool is necessary to enter the battery information to reprogram or reactivate the BMS.

Below are some questions you need to ask yourself:

If you decide to proceed, there are probably YouTube videos available online for your vehicle showing you the battery location, tools required, and how to replace your battery. The following is a generic list of easy steps to replace your battery and assumes that the electrical systems are healthy:

8.1.1. In a well ventilated area, fully charge and test the new battery. Please see Section 9 for charging and Section 4 for testing the battery. If the battery is dry charged (shipped with out electrolyte), use the battery manufacturer's instructions. If not available, add the electrolyte but do not overfill, let stand for approximately one hour, and then slowly charge the battery at no more than 1% of the CCA or 10% of the amp hour capacity.

8.1.2. If a non-sealed wet battery, check the electrolyte levels after the battery has reached room temperature and "top off" the electrolyte to the proper level with distilled, deionized or demineralized water as required, but do not over fill. The plates need to be covered with electrolyte at all times to prevent an internal battery explosion or sulfation. (Please see Section 3.2 for electrolyte fill level information.)

8.1.3. Thoroughly wash or clean the old battery posts, battery cable terminals clamps or lugs and tray (or battery box) with warm water mixed with baking soda to minimize problems from acid or corrosion. (Please see Section 3.3 for more information on corrosion.)

8.1.4. Mark all of the battery cable terminal clamps or lugs so you will able to identify them to reconnect to proper battery terminal post and check the cables and cable terminal clamps or lugs closely for damage. A loose terminal connection, corrosion, bad crimp (especially in a battery cable terminal clamp or lug with multiple wires), or cut cable can cause high resistance and a large voltage drop when high current is running though it. If the battery terminal polarity or cables are reversed, you could extensively damage to your electrical system.

8.1.5. When you disconnect the car battery, the emmissions computer or transmission might reset and the vehicle might run differently until the vehicle relearns the optimum settings. Be sure that you have saved any required immobilizer, security system or radio codes that may have to be reentered. To save the radio station presets, emissions computer settings, clock, immobilizer, accessory synchronization or security system code settings, temporarily connent a memory keep alive tool to retain the computer(s) settings, jump starter, or a second 12-volt battery in parallel (positive to positive and negative to engine block or frame) to the battery cable terminals, jump posts or electrical system before disconnecting the old battery(ies). Memory keep alive tools are available online or at most auto parts, battery or electronics stores. If you use the cigarette lighter adapter receptacle or OBD port, insure that it is active before disconnecting the battery(ies).

8.1.6. Turn off all electrical and electronic accessories and appliances. Identify (or take a picture of) the exact location of the battery posts and cables that the terminals were connected to prevent reversing the polarity of the terminals when installing the replacement battery. Remove the grounded cable first because this will minimize the possibility of shorting the battery when you remove the positive cable. The ground cable is normally NEGATIVE (-). Secure the battery cable so that they cannot make electrical contact. Next remove the remaining cable which is normally POSITIVE (+). Please remember that the battery terminal connector on the end of the POSITIVE (+) battery cable maybe have voltage on it from a parallel battery, so put it in a small plastic bag or cloth around it. This is so that it will not contact the metal frame or engine components. If necessary mark the polarity of the cables. Remove the battery hold down bracket(s) and disconnect any battery electrolyte level sensor leads or battery vent tube, if equipped.

8.1.7. Carefully lift the old battery out and dispose of it by exchanging it when you buy your new replacement battery or by taking it to a recycling center. For the location of recycling centers, go to http://www.recyclingmybattery.com/. Please remember that batteries are heavy and contain large amounts of harmful lead, acid and other chemicals, so take great care with safety and disposal of your old battery properly to protect the environment. BCI reports that approximately 99% of the lead from lead-acid batteries was being recycled in the United States.

8.1.8. After removing the old battery, insure that the battery tray or box and cable lugs/terminals are clean and free of corrosion. Auto parts or battery stores sell an inexpensive wire brush that can be used to clean the inside of terminal clamps or lugs and the terminal posts. If the terminals, cables or hold-down brackets are severely corroded, replace them. Replace any broken or tighten loose hold down brackets could cause excessive battery vibration and that will cause a premature battery failure. Also replace any battery cables that are corroding, swelling or other damage with equal or larger diameter cable. Larger diameter cable is better because there is less voltage drop.

8.1.9. Check the positive and negative post markings on the replacement battery and position it so that the NEGATIVE (-) battery cable terminal will connect to the NEGATIVE (-) battery post and the POSITIVE (-) battery cable terminal will connect to the POSITIVE (+) battery post. Reversing the polarity of the electrical system can severely damage or DESTROY it or the battery. Insure that the when the hood is fully closed it will not contact the posts on the replacement battery, especially if the replacement battery is higher than the old battery.

8.1.10. After replacing and tightening the hold-down bracket. Use of Nyloc self locking nuts will help prevent loose hold-down clamps. Remove any plastic caps or covers on the terminals of the replacement battery and reconnect the battery cables in reverse order, that is, attach the POSITIVE (+) cable first and then the NEGATIVE (-) cable last. For General Motors-type side terminals, check the length of the bolt and do not tighten more than 4.2 to 5.8 foot pounds, or you could crack the battery case. For top terminals, do not tighten more than 5.8 foot pounds and 10 to 15 foot pounds for stud terminals. Connections need to be periodically checked for corrosion (or oxidation) and retightened, including the grounding cables between the vehicle's frame and engine block. If a parallel battery or a memory keep alive tool was used, disconnect it. Some vehicles might have battery electrolyte level sensor or battery vent tube that will need to be reconnected.

8.1.11. To prevent corrosion, coat the terminals and exposed metal parts with battery terminal sray,high temperature grease, dielectric grease or silicone. Please see Section 3.3 for more information on corrosion.

8.1.12. Reset all the switches and breakers, if required.

8.1.13. Test the new battery by starting your engine or with an electrical load.

Some vehicles might have battery electrolyte level sensor or battery vent tube that will need to be reconnected.

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8.2. Installing Deep Cycle Batteries

Most of the steps above for installing car batteries apply to installing deep cycle batteries with these notable exceptions. Wire sizing and cable lengths are very important because wiring that is not large enough or different lengths will cause excessive voltage loss and undercharged batteries or, in some cases, a fire. Where vibration is present, wiring should be installed in a flexible protective covering or conduit to protect it. Gromments should also be used when the wire is run through any openings than cut the insulation. According to the U.S. Fire Administration from 2008 to 2010, 22% of highway vehicle fires were caused an electrical failure or malfunction such as a short. A good voltage loss table can be found at Wind & Sun. Wiring size (and fusing) should be based on the maximum possible current carried through the wire. Please note that SAE (Society of Automotive Engineering) wire is up to 12% smaller than AWG (American Wire Gauge) wire. To better balance the voltage with batteries in parallel, wire the connections from the POSITIVE (+) battery terminals to a single positive (+) distribution point and the connections from the NEGATIVE (-) battery terminals to a single NEGATIVE (-) distribution point. All of the interconnecting leads between the battery terminals and distribution points need to be exactly the same wire size and length so the voltage is the same. For parallel and series wiring diagrams, please see Section 7.3.2. Use of bus bars is highly recommended for larger deep cycle battery bank installations.

Other good sources of information of wire sizing can be found at Wind & Sun or Solar Expert. Using properly sized fuses or circuit breakers is also very important because they can provide protection for the wiring from over heating and for the electrical appliances. Good sources of basic information on connectors, fuses and wire can be found on howstuffworks. Most rotary A/B battery selector switches are not recommended because the heavy inrush of current during the first few milliseconds that a switch is closed can burn the contacts or arc. Series, parallel, and series-parallel battery connection wiring diagrams can be found in Section 7.3.2. Connections will need to be periodically retightened.

Insure there is adequate ventilation for the batteries so gases can dissipate while recharging and batteries can stay cooler. In other words, do NOT use sealed battery boxes, even with sealed Gel Cell (Ca/Ca) or AGM (Ca/Ca) VRLA batteries, because if there is shorted cell, a great deal of gassing could occur. Some batteries will require up to 50 "preconditioning" cycles before they will produce their rated capacity. This is because the acid needs to fully penetrate the pores of the newly formed plates. When mixing sulfuric acid and water to make electrolyte for dry charged batteries, always slowly add the acid to the water and NEVER add water to acid as it may boil violently and splatter.

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