Your motorcycle battery just went dead and you really cannot afford buy a new one just yet. The only option is to revive it but you have no idea how it is done. Read on to find out how to revive dead motorcycle battery as well as how to make sure your next battery doesn’t die prematurely.
The concept of battery revival has been a lifesaver for many motorcycle owners. If you were racking your brain on what to do about your dead battery when you are low on cash, this is no doubt a welcome option.
You can revive a lead acid battery by draining the electrolyte (sulphuric acid) and replacing it with an Epsom salt solution. It doesn’t bring the battery back to 100% performance but you can count on at least 80% performance for a couple of months or even a year.
A dead motorcycle battery which doesn’t take charge is most likely as a result of sulfation. This is the number one cause of early failure in lead acid batteries. It happens when the sulphuric acid starts breaking down. As this happens, sulphur crystals form and stick to the lead plates. The result is lead sulphate crystals on the plates.
As the process continues, the crystals grow in size and harden. If nothing is done, they can end up covering the lead plates completely, therefore drastically reducing the battery’s ability to generate electric current.
When the battery dies, it is possible to revive it by creating a new electrolyte and recharging it.
How to Revive a Dead Motorcycle Battery
Table of Contents
- 1 How to Revive a Dead Motorcycle Battery
- 2 Tips on Reviving Motorcycle Batteries
- 3 Why Batteries Fail Prematurely
- 4 Conclusion
A dead motorcycle battery can be revived by draining the sulphuric acid and replacing it with another electrolyte. Let’s look at how to revive a battery using an Epsom salt solution.
What you will need:
- Epsom salt
- Distilled water
- Crescent wrench
- Small plastic funnel
For safety purposes:
- A pair of goggles
- A pair of gloves
Step 1. Precautionary Measures
If you have just got off your bike then take a few minutes to let the battery cool.
The electrolyte in the battery is sulphuric acid which is very corrosive. Be sure to protect yourself by wearing gloves and a pair of goggles. Choose a well ventilated area to work
Step 2. Remove the battery
Use a crescent wrench to loosen the connectors. Lift the battery out and set it aside.
Step 3: Drain the acid
Carefully lower the battery to pour out the acid from each of the cells into a plastic container. Be sure to lower it away from your body to minimize chances of acid accidents
Step 4. Prepare the Epsom solution
Dissolve 8 ounces of Epsom salt into a quart of distilled water. To make it dissolve faster, you can heat up the water to about 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Once all the salt is dissolved, let it cool. After that, fill each cell with the solution using a small plastic funnel to make sure no solution goes to waste.
Replace the caps and give the battery a light shake to make sure the solution is evenly distributed.
Step 5. Charge the battery
Place the battery on a slow charger. First connect the charger to the battery terminals before switching it on at the power outlet.
Allow it to charge overnight or until the charger indicator shows full charge. Once it is fully charged, reinstall it.
Tips on Reviving Motorcycle Batteries
Here is some advice on the process.
- Always use distilled water and never tap water. Distilled water makes it easier to dissolve the salt. Tap water also has chemicals which could gradually damage the battery.
- Don’t use a car battery charger. Use a 6-volt trickle charger or a smart charger which has a slow-charge option. A car charger channels more current than the small motorcycle battery can handle so it could easily damage it permanently.
- Make sure the battery caps are off during charging. This allows any gases produced to be expelled easily.
- Dispose sulphuric acid appropriately. This acid is corrosive so it can be extremely dangerous if improperly disposed. This is not something you want to leave lying around in your garage to be dealt with later.
Reviving a lead acid battery gives it a new life. It works almost as good as new for a while. It should only be done as a stop-gap measure to buy you some time before you have to buy a new battery.
Why Batteries Fail Prematurely
Lead acid batteries generally last between 3 and 5 years. This means it will eventually fail no matter what you do. However, some motorcycle batteries last way longer than others. These are some reasons behind premature failure.
Installing many accessories shortens the lifespan of a battery. Check the owner’s manual to find out the voltage of the battery and compare this to demands of the engine and basic electrical components. Chances are there is little power left over. Don’t install anything which will put unnecessary strain on the battery.
Poor Ground Connection:
If the ground connection between the battery and the frame is poor it could hamper charging of the battery. As long as the battery is not getting fully charged, it is likely to fail prematurely.
Make a point to check all the connections to ensure everything is as it should be. If necessary, use a piece of sand paper to remove dirt and corrosion from the connecters.
It is not uncommon to find abnormal leaks of power from the battery towards certain appliances. It could be a high beam light, GPS, alarm or any other electrical component. Leaks could end up draining the battery dry and this no doubt reduces its life expectancy.
To confirm if you have a parasitic leak somewhere, remove the negative battery cable. Place a volt-ohm meter lead between the negative terminal of the battery and the negative cable. Read the current draw. Ideally it should read zero and this confirms that there is no leak.
An insignificantly low reading can be ignored. If you get a reading of one amp or more, there is likely to be a leak somewhere. It is time to do some investigation to find out where it is.
The alternator’s job is to charge the battery after is has supplied power to start the motorcycle engine. A faulty alternator therefore leaves a drained battery uncharged so it cannot meet the starter demands.
This is a common problem in high mileage motorcycles. Keep in mind that the alternators fitted in motorcycles during manufacture don’t last very long so it should not be a big surprise when they fail.
Now you know how to revive a dead motorcycle battery. It helps to buy you a couple of months. It should not be considered a permanent solution. Once you have revived it once, plan to buy a new battery as soon as you can.
When you do, try not to overload it with appliances as this reduces its lifespan. Check the ground connections regularly and keep an eye on the alternator especially if you have had the bike for a few years.
It is bound to fail soon. Lastly always have a multimeter handy in case you suspect a parasitic leak. These leaks can drain your battery dry and send you back to the shop for a new battery a lot sooner than you hoped.