Everything You Need to Know About a Leaking Car Battery
Have you ever looked at your car battery and noticed a fluid around and wondered why is my car battery leaking? The first instinct is to touch it and see what it is; however, you will want to be careful before touching or smelling it. How can you tell if your battery is leaking and you can’t see it? In this blog, we will discuss what to do if you find your battery leaking and how you should proceed.
How Does it Work?
Batteries store energy that can be released as electricity on demand by chemicals. Car batteries use plates of lead and separators that are bundled to produce volts inserted into the cells in the case. The cells are then strapped together, of which one end will be positive and the other negative as terminals on the battery. They cover the plates in a solution that comprises sulfuric acid and water. It makes these chemicals that are stored up of a sulphuric acid solution.
The power is then used by the ignition system in the form of cranking your engine. If the alternator or drive belt fails, the battery may need to power the whole electrical system for a short time. If these start to come out of the battery, this can cause problems that you will have to pay for.
Is the Car Battery Leaking?
Normally, a car battery will not leak if it is functioning properly. There are some signs, however, that will show it is leaking.
- The battery casing can be cracked and the fluid will leak from the crack.
- The liquid can bubble and seep through the cell caps.
- Warping, inflation or distorted appearance in the battery.
- The smell of rotten eggs coming from the battery.
- Corrosion around the terminal caps.
Why Does it Leak?
Batteries need to be physically damaged or over-charged to be leaking, normally they won’t. When they leak, it will usually be through the cell caps on the top of the battery.
The age of the battery can cause it to fail. We should switch batteries out every three to five years.
The vibration of the battery over time, especially if you are living or traveling on a bumpy road, over time will jumble the battery around and can cause the acid to leak. This can also crack the battery casing if we do not tie it in right or is loose.
The first thing people do when a battery doesn’t work is to check its charge. Typically, when your car won’t start, and you are not at home, you have someone give you a jump start. Constant doing of this and overcharging of the battery will cause the leaking to start through the cells.
Weather is another way the battery will be damaged. Extreme cold can put stress on the body of the battery because the acid inside might freeze. This will cause the body to expand, putting pressure on the cells. While this is not something that will probably happen, it can still occur. Extreme heat can also cause the plates to expand and push out the liquid.
Batteries need to be fully charged before putting them in storage and need to be stored in a cool place. If we store it in a warm setting, it could become overheated and bloat, which will tend to crack the battery and cause a leak.
Your alternator has a regulator that goes to the battery to control how much power goes to the battery. If the regulator is malfunctioning, it could send too much power to the battery and if this happens, it does not control the number of volts that is generated. The acid inside of the solution could then boil and result in overflowing.
Repairing a Leaking Battery
Repairing a leak in a battery is not recommended, you should have it replaced. If upon inspection, you realize that the leak is coming from a tiny crack in the battery’s wall, you may fix it temporarily until you can afford a new battery. It is not an easy fix, but if you want to try, here are the steps you need to take to fix it.
- Get all the materials you will need. This would include a sealant, sandpaper, baking soda, Epsom salt, and a plastic pail.
- Take off the caps on the battery posts.
- Empty the electrolyte solution in the battery into the plastic pail, but do it slowly to prevent spilling. The solution contains sulphuric acid, which can harm you.
- Neutralize the solution using baking soda
- Now that the battery case is empty, sand the cracked area with the sandpaper thoroughly until it is level and smooth.
- On the cracked surface, spread the sealant over it and give it time to dry.
- Unfortunately, now you have to recondition the solution, which means heating three cups of distilled water to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Take a cup of Epsom salt and dissolve it into the heated water and wait for it to cool.
- Grab your solution and pour the water with the salt into it.
- Next, carefully pour the solution back into the battery.
- Make sure to wipe any spill that is left on the surface of the battery, since the excess will bring rust and corrosion.
- Take the caps and replace them back onto the terminal posts and make sure that you tightly secure them.
- Using a trickle charger, charge the battery for a minimum of 36 hours.
This is obvious, but make sure you are wearing full protection, working in a well-ventilated room, and be cautious enough to have a pail of water to wash off your hands of any accidental spill or douse a fire if it happens. A car battery leaking acid and you trying to fix it, can be dangerous and hazardous.
Teach Yourself Car Repairs
A leaking car battery is something that will not happen often, but it can cause some serious issues if it is not taken care of right away. Be careful when dealing with the battery and never forget that it has acid in it, and this can be dangerous when dealing with it. Recommendations are to have a mechanic look it over and change it if you cannot not, and they can also dispense of your old battery for you.
Some places you will have to pay a fee, but most will take it in exchange for a new one. Most employers that you work for will have you check the vehicles you are using for any problems during maintenance so you don’t have problems while at work.
In the long run, we can prevent a leaky battery with proper maintenance and care, but if it happens, you now know what to look for and how to handle it going forward.