How to Recondition a Battery for Cars & Laptops (Guide 2019 Updated)
Last Updated on
Most people discard their old car battery but not many people know about reconditioning it. In this article, we’ll discuss how to recondition batteries in detail and make it like a brand new.
Reconditioned battery or refurbished batteries can let you save money and get a 100% functional battery for other use. Also, it’s greener for the planet too.
Not only that. A reconditioned battery will work like a new one and you can even sell it as a second-hand good for a profit.
Also, it’s very simple to recondition a car battery. All you need is some time and a few gadgets and items that can easily get from your local store.
So, in this article, we’ll explore:
- Precautions When Reconditioning Battery
- Tools and Equipment You Need
- Step by Step on How to Recondition a Car Battery
- Battery Electrolyte Alternatives
- What is Battery Reconditioning?
- What to Do With Old Car Batteries?
- Why Should You Recondition Your Rechargeable Batteries?
- Types of Batteries You Can Recondition
- How to Prolong Battery Life?
- How to Recondition a Laptop Battery?
- How to Clean a Car Battery With Accessories?
Battery Reconditioning Tips and Guide
All car batteries after a while will lose its ability to hold charges and eventually dead. This is normal because of wear and tear.
One of the main reason lead-acid batteries performance degraded is due to sulfation. This is a process where sulfur buildup on the lead plates in the battery, blocking the electric current.
But, there are also many factors affect their actual performance and durability of a battery too.
Now, you can replace an old battery with a new one but if you learn how to do battery restoration, it’s even better. And, you can recondition for about three to five times before the lead plate is completely unusable.
Learning how to recondition batteries is a great way to save up on money, or at the very least dispose of your old batteries more economically. Each new car battery cost about $120 – $150. You will potentially save about a thousand dollars from battery rejuvenation.
But, before we get into the ‘how to recondition batteries’ topic, it’s essential to go through some safety tips and guide about battery reconditioning and the tools required first. This is important will get your battery prepared for reconditioning later.
Precautions when Reconditioning Battery
While the actual steps to reconditioning your car battery are simple and easy to follow, you still need to ensure that you handle your battery with care. Here are a few tips:
- You’re handling dangerous material, here. The liquid electrolyte inside your battery is a solution made from sulfuric acid and water. Needless to say, you do not want that getting on your skin and even on your clothes. Most of all, you definitely need to keep it away from your eyes.
- Wear a pair of safety goggles, a pair of neoprene chemical-resistant gloves, and an apron when you work. Wear a pair of old clothing in case you got in contact with the sulfuric acid.
- Avoid wearing any jewelry when working with batteries. For example, gold chains are a good electric conductor. You do not want to short-circuit yourself because of that.
- Always connect the positive lead to the positive terminal and negative lead to the negative terminal of an instrument. Reversing these connections can cause damage to the battery and devices due to short-circuit.
- Always recondition lead-acid battery in a well-ventilated area and be vigilant and concentrate on the task at hand to make sure nothing goes wrong.
Tools and Equipment You Need
As mentioned above, reconditioning your battery will require you to get a few more tools and equipment needed for the procedure.
Aside from the safety uniform you are required to wear during reconditioning, some of the tools you will need are:
- A flathead screwdriver
- Plastic bucket
- Distilled water
- Plastic funnel/Syringe
- Battery Post Cleaner
- Battery Hydrometer
Alright, you have all the tools ready. Now, let’s look at what you need to do before start reconditioning a car battery.
Step by Step on How to Recondition a Car Battery
- Step #1: Pre-Clean Your Battery Before Reconditioning
Before the actual reconditioning process begins, you will need to clean your car battery and remove all corrosion that has built up.
You can always use a car battery cleaner for this or make your own cleaning solution. It’s still easier and more effective to work with a clean and well-kept battery.
Most corrosion can be lifted by the cleaner solution, but if there are spots of heavy corrosion on your battery you, you may want to use a steel wool brush.
Jump to below to find the best battery cleaner accessories to use for cleaning a car battery.
- Step # 2: Pre-Test Your Battery for Reconditioning
Once the cleaning is done, the next thing you need to do is pre-test your battery and check its current voltage.
Use a voltmeter and connect it to your battery terminals.
A voltmeter … is an instrument used for measuring the potential difference, or voltage, between two points in an electrical or electronic circuit.” – Margaret Rouse, What Is
If the display says 12.6 volts and up, then your battery is working great, and you should just probably clean it up for it to work better.
If the display shows 12.4 volts or below, your battery will need reconditioning.
If by any chance, the display shows 0 volts, then that means your battery has short-circuited and reconditioning will do no good.
After checking the voltage, you now have to remove your battery’s old acid. Some of it will be left inside.
Remember that battery acid is toxic so make sure to wear your safety gear and to do this step in a well-ventilated area.
Remove all the caps from your battery, and make sure you have a plastic bucket and baking soda ready nearby.
Hold your battery and lean it away from you. Pour the acid into the bucket.
Do this carefully and take your time. You wouldn’t want the acid to spill. If ever it does happen, put some baking soda on it to neutralize it.
Once all the battery acid is in the bucket, put about half a pound of baking soda in it to neutralize the acid so can safety discard after that.
Next, you should clean the inside of your battery. Mix half a gallon of distilled water with half a pound of baking soda.
Use your funnel to pour the solution in all your cells, and shake your battery for about 30 seconds to a minute.
Empty the solution into the bucket.
- Step #3: Reconditioning Old Batteries
So now that your battery is ready, how to do you recondition old batteries?
Well, all you need to do is refill the cells. Or in other words, create your own electrolyte.
This can easily be achieved from distilled water and Epsom salt.
This solution can raise your voltage and even increase the amps your battery can produce.
All you need is to put half a pound of Epsom salt in half a gallon of boiling distilled water.
Make sure to add the salt little by little to ensure that everything dissolves. Stir occasionally.
Once the water is clear, your reconditioning electrolyte is ready.
Leave the solution to cool down to room temperature.
Take your clean funnel and refill your cells until you hit the max level as indicated on the battery.
Make sure you fill all cells.
Put back the caps, shake your battery for a minute, and you’re done.
Watch this video on how to recondition a car battery in detail:
- Step #4: Battery Reconditioning Load Test
Now that you have reconditioned your batteries, you would want to make sure that it actually works.
First, you need to charge the car battery to full and you want to use a slow 12-volt battery charger. Head over to the Best Car Battery Charger article to find the best charger to use and buying guide.
Use a battery load tester to confirm that the reconditioned battery can hold a charge.
To see if the recondition car battery whether is holding a healthy charge or not, you can use a battery load tester to make the testing job easier.
Also, a battery load tester is especially handy if you plan to recondition more batteries.
If you need a battery load tester, head to the best Car Battery Tester article for more info.
You can also try reconditioning your car with a battery reconditioning charger like this one:
- Specially developed for use in extreme cold...
- Fully automatic 8 step patented program tests...
- No sparks, short-circuit proof and reverse...
- Water and dust resistant means it is safe to...
A smart car battery charger doesn’t just charge, it also performs other functions, such as reconditioning to prolong the life of the battery and keep it in optimum condition., CTEK
Battery Electrolyte Alternatives
Epsom salt isn’t the only thing you can use to create electrolyte your battery. Although most people prefer it, other alternatives do exist and work reasonably effective.
Some of these alternatives are:
- Aluminum Sulphate
Instead of Magnesium sulfate which is Epsom salt, you can combine a pound of Aluminum sulfate with a gallon of boiling distilled water.
With this solution, your battery can charge faster. It can also increase your battery’s lifespan.
However, Aluminum sulfate works best with batteries that are still in a decent condition. More worn out ones might not reap the same benefits.
- Copper Sulphate
Some people have tried Copper sulfate instead of Epsom salt, and it works. If that’s what you have on hand, by all means, use it.
However, its benefits might only last for a short time, and it can probably do more damage to your battery. So be careful.
What is Battery Reconditioning?
Call it what you want – battery rejuvenation or battery reconditioning, they all mean the same thing.
Battery reconditioning is to take an old battery and refurbish it by cleaning and changing the battery water with new so that it works like a new battery.
Also, it’s essential to know that reconditioning your old battery can save you money, has less impact on the environment, and can even make your old battery work like a new one.
Battery reconditioning is a simple process, and anyone can do it if they have the patience to learn.
But before you get started, you should know that it takes quite a bit of time and you will need to purchase additional equipment for it to work.
Don’t worry! It’s all worth it once you learn how to do the actual reconditioning procedure.
What to Do with Old Car Batteries?
Sometimes batteries couldn’t be reconditioned anymore. So, what do you do with them then?
Word of advice: change your car battery regularly. When it reaches the end of its natural lifespan, it’s still a better idea to get a new one for your car.
Regardless of how great you are at maintaining your battery or that it can still work adequately, replacing old batteries will provide you with better performance and safety.
But what do you do with old car batteries or dead ones?
Well, for one, do not just throw it in the trash. These batteries contain a mix of toxic chemicals that can be detrimental to the environment.
The best way to dispose of your old battery is to give it to your local auto shop.
When you’re buying a new one, just ask for them to take your old one from you.
Another way is to recycle the battery and search for a recycling depot that accepts car batteries.
However, not all depots can receive them so contact the depot beforehand for affirmation.
You can also have it refurbished.
Many “dead” car batteries are actually perfectly good batteries. They just can no longer provide the hundreds of amps needed to start a car.” – Luxstar, Instructables
That means that your battery still has a lot of different uses. It just isn’t enough to power vehicles but can still power up light like fluorescent lights.
There are many ways to make the most out of the refurbished batteries. Just search the internet for more projects.
Want to know the length of a battery’s life? Check out this article: How Long Does A Car Battery Last? for more information about batteries.
Why Should You Recondition Your Rechargeable Batteries?
You might think that just because you can recharge rechargeable batteries, they won’t need a battery repair service.
Well, that would be wrong.
Rechargeable batteries can also wear out due to constant use, and are susceptible to the ‘Memory Effect.’
Memory Effect is when the length of use in a battery decreases between every charge.
Getting your rechargeable battery reconditioned allows you to bring it back to life again, and make it provide you with optimum performance and save you a lot of money.
Types of Batteries You Can Recondition
There are lots of types of batteries that you can recondition. It’s not just limited to automotive ones.
Most electronic devices use these three more common battery types, mainly Nickel Cadmium, Nickel Metal Hydride, and Lithium Ion.
All three don’t look too different from each other but have significant distinctions, though.
Here are four common kinds of batteries you can recondition:
- Ni-Cad Battery
Nickel Cadmium batteries have been around the longest in the market. In fact, many electronic devices still use Ni-Cad batteries today.
They can provide high capacity as well as produce stable voltage.
Unfortunately, they are also known to succumb more to Memory Effect and can last only an average of one or two years.
- Ni-MH Battery
Nickel Metal Hydride batteries are the upgrade from Ni-Cad counterparts. They have the same benefits, but Ni-MH batteries do not suffer as much from Memory Effect.
The Ni-MH batteries can also last longer at three to four years.
Unfortunately, they are more expensive than Ni-Cad batteries and lose charge faster when not in use.
- Li-Ion Battery
Lithium-Ion batteries are the most up-to-date model available in the market. They have the same benefits of both the Ni-Cad and Ni-MH varieties and do not suffer from Memory Effect at all.
They have more discharge-recharge cycles than both and can last for four to five years. But, Li-Ion batteries lose about 10% of their storage capacity every year because of its chemical breakdown.
- Hybrid Battery
Hybrid batteries are some of the most expensive types of batteries out there. It can last for about 200,000 miles. This type of battery consists of modules to make it work.
Paying for a new hybrid battery will definitely cost you a lot as each new of can easily cost $3,500 – $4,000 depending on your car model. So having your current one reconditioned is still the more economical way to go.
Reconditioning a hybrid battery merely is replacing only the modules with damage. For example, the Toyota Prius hybrid battery has 28 modules and fixing it will cost about $800 – $1,000.
So, replacing any of the damaged modules will make the battery run well again and keep it working for about 7 – 10 more years.
And you’ll be spending less than half of what a new hybrid battery costs!
How to Prolong Battery Life?
Prolonging your battery life can be tricky since different battery type works differently. It’s better to talk about each of them separately to understand what needs to be done.
Here are a few useful tips to prolong battery life:
- Ni-Cad Battery
- Let the battery drain completely before recharging it.
- Use a charger that can automatically stop when the battery is 100% recharged.
- Do a ‘deep cycle’ recharge once every month.
- Ni-MH Battery
- Discharge the battery completely then recharge to 50% if the battery is used for more than 2 weeks.
- Do a ‘deep cycle’ recharge once or twice every month.
- Do not leave Ni-MH batteries in devices that are always turned on even when not in use.
- Li-Ion Battery
- Use only chargers designed explicitly for Li-Ion batteries.
- Do a ‘deep cycle’ recharge once every month.
- Keep the battery fully charged as long as possible.
And, good battery maintenance does prolong your battery’s life. Watch this video for more information:
How to Recondition a Laptop Battery?
While this article is to discuss how to recondition batteries for vehicles, but one of our readers ask about how to recondition a laptop battery or also known as prolonging the life of the laptop battery. So, we took the opportunity to add this topic in as well.
Like all rechargeable battery packs, laptop batteries eventually lose their ability to hold a full charge. The only way to make it perform like brand new is to replace the cell, which is complicated.
However, it is possible to improve cell performance by reconditioning or calibrating it. Here are the steps:
- Insert the battery into the laptop. Plug in power and allow the battery charge to 100%. Restart the computer after that.
- Go to settings and disable hibernation mode. How to access hibernation mode for Windows 10 see here, and Windows XP see here. For Mac see here.
- Disable all laptop battery power management features in “Power Schemes”
- Go to setting and set the laptop to discharge the battery. Windows user see here, and Mac user see here.
- Unplug the laptop from power but do not shut down. Run the computer until its battery is low and forced to shut down automatically.
- Plug in power and let it charge back to 100% and restart the computer. The battery will charge faster if you are not using the laptop.
- Enable back all the hibernation and battery power management features.
Do this battery rejuvenation process once a month to prolong the life of the laptop battery.
How to Clean A Car Battery with Accessories?
There are many ways to clean a battery. Some will prefer buying their own car battery cleaner. Others may want to have professionals do it for them.
Still, others may like to do it the DIY way with household items like baking soda.
Watch this video to learn how to clean car batteries quickly:
To help you get started on the things you might need for battery cleaning, check out the products below:
- Corrosion Preventive Solution
Just like in your paint and engines, rust and corrosion can build up on your battery. A corrosion preventive solution is designed to coat your surfaces to prevent it from forming rust.
That’s why it’s essential to apply this solution around your terminals and posts.
Looking for a great corrosion preventive product? Check this out:
- Stops battery corrosion for the life of your...
- Oil-based orange formula that does not dry or...
- Eliminates battery corrosion for increased...
- Environmentally safe and resistant to...
- Post and Terminal Cleaner Brush
Sometimes, you still get a bit of corrosion, dirt, and residue build-up around your battery. Part of its maintenance is keeping it clean.
A cleaner brush helps you remove the gunk around your terminals and posts to keep your battery well-maintained.
After all, a well-maintained battery will perform better and last longer.
Want to test out incredible cleaner brushes? Look into these:
- For top and side terminals
- For positive (+) and negative (-) terminals
- Designed to clean corrosion from side post...
- One brush is used to clean battery terminals...
- Plastic handle resists battery acid
- Battery Cleaner Spray
Another product that can make your battery maintenance routine easier and quicker is a battery cleaner spray.
It is designed to clean out your whole battery; from the wire cables to the terminals so that it can be kept clean. Doing so will help immensely in keeping it performing flawlessly.
Thinking of buying your own cleaner spray? Try these out:
- Spray it on and wash corrosion off; works in...
- Penetrates and removes corrosion, dirt and...
- Neutralizes harmful acid and dissolves...
- Cleans all types of storage batteries and...
- Allows for maximum current flow
- Instantly detects leaks and neutralizes acid
- Not VOC Compliant for California & OTC
- Just spray on and rinse off
- Anti-Corrosion Fiber Washers
If you’re more into preventive measures than removable and replacement, anti-corrosion fiber washers may be more up your alley.
Simply insert them above the battery tips to avoid corrosion build-up from happening around your terminals and ports.
Need your own fiber washers? Buy these for your car:
- Stops battery corrosion for the life of your...
- Oil-based formula that does not dry or...
- Eliminates battery corrosion for increased...
- For both top and side post battery...
So, there you have it. Now you know how to recondition batteries much better, it’s up to you to try it out.
Reconditioning car battery is not hard. All it takes is practices and you will eventually get it.
Also, recondition battery not only help you to save more money but it will also help to reduce pollution and make the earth greener.
So, recondition your car battery today and benefit from it!