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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Vehicle batteries

Are you one of those people who don't think much about your vehicle's battery until it fails? Do you spend a lot of time and money thinking about the perfect bug out vehicle, but little to no thought on the battery? Mr. Murphy will decided your battery will fail to turn your engine over the day you need it most.

I just spent $146 getting the best battery available locally. It's the biggest strongest battery that will fit in my diesel van. The old battery started the vehicle, and was just a little bit subpar. The thing is, it might start the vehicle in July when it's warm. Will it start it in September when we get an unusually cold night? Why take a chance?

Do you have the tools and know how to clean your battery terminals? Dirty terminals are perhaps the most common failure point. Sometimes just cleaning and tightening the connections will allow a vehicle to start. If you vehicle has a wet cell battery, inspect the water level and fill with distilled water if necessary.

How about jumper cables? Do you have them and know how to safely use them? A battery charger can be a life saver. Testers? I'm going into many details on how to do this stuff. There are plenty of resources available. All I want you to do is to give it some thought.

A really good battery may make up for other sins. If something electrical is left on, a good battery will give you more time to discover your error. Should I let one of my fuel tanks run out and air get into the system, being able to really crank over the motor a good long while may allow me to restart with fuel from the other tank.

My van runs on waste vegetable oil. If the veggie is not flushed out by switching to the diesel tank for a while, it will cool down when the engine is shut off. Starting will be impossible with a weak battery, but might work with a strong one. Been there, done that -both ways.

For a “mission critical” vehicle part, it's one thing often overlooked.



  1. A little known tip for cleaning battery terminals, use a can of Coca Cola while scrubbing them.
    It works amazingly well.

    Baking soda and a little water to make a paste works even better.

    1. Figured there had to be a use for that cola stuff.

  2. It seems to me that unlike back in the day when batteries would slowly die, these new ones just die all of a sudden without any warning!! They don't give you any warning; just let you down, hopefully not when you need it most.

    1. They are made with thinner plates for more power in a short period of time. Good for starting in cold weather, but makes a more fragile battery.

  3. I'm a big fan of those portable (mostly yellow) boosters. Great advice.

    1. Those boosters work great a long of cars. My big diesels are not impressed at all.