6- Battery Maintenance: It’s Not a Joke!

We all know that proper maintenance in any machine is critical. Wether it be a motorcycle, ATV, lawnmower or outboard, regular maintenance and service will prolong the life of your equipment. Did you know that the same applies to a battery?


Technology in batteries has changed since the first electric start motor hit the market, yet, even our modern "maintenance free" batteries require a bit of attention. Don't worry, you won't have to schedule some time in your already busy week to tend to your batteries. If you're looking for an excuse to hide in your garage, this isn't it! Maintaining a battery can be as simple as investing in a good quality battery maintainer.


Battery chargers aren't new, and they do exactly what their name states; recharge a battery. The danger with a regular charger is that they can over charge your battery, causing it to overheat and spill. A battery maintainer however will stop once it’s fully charged. Once in a while, the maintainer will test the battery voltage. If the voltage is strong, it will leave the battery to rest. If the voltage is weak however, it will start its cycles and recharge the battery. These maintainers are relatively low in cost (just under $40 here at R.L. Equipment) and can be used for any 12V battery. So one maintainer can take care of all your toys!


Why does a battery “die”?

John just bought a new snowmobile last year and had a blast riding it. Spring arrived and he went all the way: oil change, fresh gas with stabilizer, wax and polish. John even made room in his heated garage for his new toy. Next thing you know, it’s December and we get the first good snowfall. Exited, John pulls the cover off his 1 year old snowmobile, wheels her outside…and it won’t turn over. The battery is “dead”. Why? It was stored in a heated environment and wasn’t used for 9 months!


Unfortunate as it is, John did miss one step while storing his snowmobile; recharge the battery during the storage period. Contrarily to what a lot of us believe, a battery will slowly lose its charge if it remains unused. If it remains unused for too long, the battery won’t have enough stored energy to start a motor. Whether stored outside or inside, a battery’s voltage will drop if it sits unused for too long. A lot of us also believe that a battery must be stored inside to avoid freezing. This is a myth. A battery that is kept outside in subzero temperatures will freeze if its voltage level is low. Yet, interestingly enough, a properly maintained battery will withstand winter’s harshest conditions without freezing! The key is to have it charged regularly.


So before you store your snowmobile, lawn tractor, motorcycle or boat, make sure to think about your batteries. They will last years and years if they are well maintained during storage.

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