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How can I tell if my battery is good or bad?

Tue, Dec 28th, 2010
Posted in Ask the Expert

Steve Majerus

The condition of the cell plates inside the battery determines whether or not a battery is still serviceable. Current is produced when sulfuric acid in the battery reacts with lead in the cell plates. The sulfate is returned to solution when the alternator recharges the battery by forcing current to flow in the opposite direction.

 As the battery discharges, sulfate accumulates on the plates and over time, some of the sulfate becomes permanently attached. The sulfate forms a barrier that diminishes the battery's ability to produce and store electricity. This process can be accelerated if the battery is run down frequently or is allowed to remain in a discharged state for more than a few days. Therefore, the battery won't accept a charge and will have to be replaced.

 Average battery life is only about 4-5 years under the best of circumstances. The battery may become 'sulfated' prematurely if it is chronically undercharged from charging problems or short trip driving, or if the water level inside the battery drops below the top of the cell plates and allows the cell plates to dry out.

 BATTERY TESTING: This is something you can't really do yourself, so you need to bring your vehicle to a service facility that has the proper test equipment. We have that equipment at Brown's Tire and would be happy to test your battery for you.

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