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Proper Battery Maintenance


New Member
United States
Hopefully this is useful for people here.

Those that have the OE battery can check the sight glass on the battery. If it's not green, then it's not operating at full potential. Battery power can affect power to critical components like the ECU, fuel pumps, and not so critical components as the accessories. Those that don't have a sight glass on their battery can use a multimeter to check battery voltage. An ideal healthy wet cell battery will be at 12.7+ volts at rest. 12.4 is required to start the car. The are other tools available to test battery load, but this is just to go over simple maintenance to extend performance and life.

The OE wet lead acid battery is not "maintenance free" if you want it to last long and provide the most power in it's lifespan. Battery acid in each cell naturally evaporates over time and use. So checking and topping off fluid every year is good idea, 2yrs at the most. If you don't do anything to maintain the battery during ownership it will probably last ~5yrs. average, which is about right at the rate at which the acid evaporates and the lead plates build sulfate on them. A slow and uneccessary death.

Warning: Don't do any of the following if you are not comfortable, find someone who is qualified instead. Battery sulfuric acid will eat through your clothes and dangerous to your eyes if it comes into contact.

To maintain the battery pop off the battery caps, make sure none of the lead plates are exposed above the acid level and top off the sulfuric battery acid with distilled water for each individual cell, keeping the level ~3/4" below the filler holes. Exposed lead plates is cancerous to the battery. After topping off the battery put it on a slow trickle charge at 4 amps or less and top off the charge. If you had a battery that didn't show green through the sight glass before, you may be rewarded with it turning green after simple maintenance.

The Magic Eye that is used in Motorcraft batteries provides 4 stages of indication, they are:
1. Green: battery is charged and the acid level is good.
2. Yellow: Battery is partially dis-charged and the acid level is good. Re-charge the battery.
3. Red: Battery is dis-charged and the acid level is good. Charge the battery.
4. Clear and bright: Acid level is low. Add distilled water if possible. Do not fast charge or jump start the battery.

You can see the mfg. date is stamped on the battery in the 2nd photo. After ~3yrs. of use without maintaining it, it took in ~1 quart of water with the sight glass showing black or clear with one cell barely exposing lead plates. After maintaining it I've extended it's life, increased it's performance and got a green indicator through the sight glass.

Clean off any corrosion on the battery terminals and apply some dielectric or lithium grease on the terminals and battery posts.

United States
The Stinger battery is maintenance free. It's an AGM even. No sight glass. Do NOT try to pry off a cap - they don't come off.

This writeup is interesting. Yes, traditional flooded batteries with maintenance caps should be checked every few months - at least once a year. A quart is an extreme amount of water - I've never had to add more than half a cup! Also make sure to use distilled water.
"Maintenance free" batteries have a mat in the lid that captures the water as it evaporates and condenses it back into the battery, whereas traditional batteries simply vent. Batteries get warm, especially in the engine bay, so the water evaporates.
AGM is quite different. There's no water to refill, or spill. You can hang them upside down if you want. AGM can still vent explosive gasses if there's a sudden discharge, so the vent tube *MUST* be connected. Be careful with replacement batteries - that vent tube is there for safety since the battery is actually inside the passenger compartment.
De-sulphating became quite popular a few years ago, but is entirely unnecessary for a battery that is regularly used and stays charged.

Cleaning the terminals is simple- sprinkle baking soda on a cruddy terminal then pour vinegar on it. It'll fizz. Scrape with a wire brush. Clean with water. Obviously that's not a great plan for us while the battery is in the trunk.

As for dielectric grease, here's the thing. Look up "dielectric". That's an insulator. So you DO NOT want that between the terminal and the connector. Same for spark plug boot grease. So for batteries, connect the terminals then spread a thin layer of grease over the top. The grease isolates the connection so leaking acid, water, etc won't cause the terminal to corrode. For spark plugs, put a small amount of grease on the ceramic part of the plug. That will make a grease seal between the boot and the ceramic to keep water, dirt, whatever away from the terminal. You do not want grease on the actual terminal.


2000 Posts Achieved
Staff Member
United States
What I Drive
Stinger GT2
Agree....The Stinger Battery is sealed and maintenance free. It is NOT a wet battery, it IS an AGM.