With winter approaching an item well worth giving attention to is the condition of your truck's battery.
There's nothing more irritating than having a dying battery struggling to turn the engine on a cold winter's morning. The following key attention points will ensure you obtain maximum life span from your battery.
1. Check the battery's state of charge. Most batteries have a State of Charge Indicator on top of the battery that gives an on-the-spot diagnosis of its condition. The best way, though is to check it with a voltmeter to determine the stabilised voltage or if the vent caps are removable a hydrometer to determine the specific gravity (SG) of the electrolyte. Ensure the battery top is free of dirt and grime. Dirty batteries have been known to discharge across the grime on top of the battery casing.
2. Inspect the terminals: Everyone knows this should be done but it is easy to ignore the task. Screws and clamps sometimes come loose and sometimes cabling partially breaks. Terminals should be clean, tight and free of corrosion. A thin coating of high-temperature grease on the battery terminals keeps verdigris at bay.
3. Has the battery casing become damaged or warped? This will indicate that the battery has been overheated or has been overcharged.
4. If you have a maintainable battery, ie one you can top up, it is important to check the electrolyte level from time to time. It should cover the battery plates. When topping up, using distilled or demineralised water be careful not to over-fill.
5. With respect to a sealed 'maintenance-free' battery, check the State of Charge Indicator as this indicates the battery's condition. If the State of Charge Indicator advises 'Replace Battery' - even though it still starts the engine, the battery should be replaced pronto as low electrolyte levels can lead to an internal explosion.