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THE CARE & FEEDING OF YOUR BATTERIES

Posted: August 1, 2014 by Jim Park

Here are some guidelines to help you get the most out of your batteries, especially during the winter:

* Vibration is a battery’s worst enemy. Ensure that the battery restraints are firm,
but not excessively tight, as this may cause the case to crack.

* Batteries should be mounted parallel with the frame, and as close to it as possible. Try laying a dense piece of rubber, like a mudflap, in the battery box to further isolate the battery from vibration.

* Electrical current is like water. Its flow can be obstructed by poor connections and corroded cable, as well as by using a gauge of cable that’s too thin to carry the current needed by the starter. Use minimum ’00’ gauge cable, and if possible, use two lengths of it in parallel from the battery to the starter.

* Ensure that the connections are clean, solid, and well sealed to prevent moisture
from seeping into the wire strands.

* If the cable has been damaged, replace the entire length. Check the cable ends
frequently for the telltale green dust.

* Replace the connectors as necessary and trim off the corroded strands of wire.
Use a crimp-type connector on all cables and seal the connection with heavy-duty
heat-shrink tubing and a moisture-proof sealant such as petroleum jelly. Don’t
overlook the ground connections.

* Use a wire brush to clean all contact points – buff them ’til they shine- then use a large-diameter flat washer under a self-locking nut to maintain the best possible contact with the frame.

* Keep the battery charged. If the alternator can’t keep up with the demands of the
electrical system, the battery will never fully regain its charge. The winter months mean longer periods of heavier demand on the batteries, through increased
headlight and heater fan usage, coupled with longer periods of idle-time when the
alternator isn’t running at its rated output. If you use a large number of auxiliary
lights, or chicken lights, you may be drawing more off the battery than the
alternator can replace. During the winter months, the battery needs all the help it
can get, so be sure the alternator is able to maintain the charge, even when the engine is running slowly.

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