Charging a Dead Battery

Already running late for work, Ben walks out to his motorcycle and hits the starter button. Yet all he hears is the click on a solenoid. The bike will not start. Wearing his work clothes beneeth his riding gear Ben begging pushing the bike down the street in the hopes of push starting the motorcycle to life. It worked, but if you're in a hurry and having trouble starting your motorcycle in the morning, start diagnosing the problem by checking out the battery.

Check to make sure the battery's connections are clean and good. If the connections are dirty, clean the connections by pouring soda over top the terminals and using steel wool or emery cloth to remove any corrosion that has built up and re-tighten the terminals. Next, follow the negative cable (black) from the battery to the bike's ground. Check this connection and if you are suspect, remove and clean up the ground with emery cloth and tighten. Next, check the battery for a sticker that says when the battery was first installed. The sticker will have a letter and a number. The letter corresponds to the month (A = January, B = February and so on) and the number is the year. If the battery is over five years old and / or the bike has been sitting for a while it's probably time to replace it but it does not hurt to try and resuscitate the battery. Start by putting a voltmeter on the terminals to read current voltage. A properly charged battery will have 12.6 volts or above. If your battery falls below this threshold it's time to recharge the battery.

Hold your battery up to a light source and check the battery's level of acid. If any of the six cells is low on acid top, pull the cap off that cell and top off the battery with water. Once the battery is full of fluids take it to a motorcycle shop or automatic supply store and ask the clerk to charge the battery at low amperage (less then 5 amps) for the day. Battery's will absorb more electrons when given a trickle charge over a long period of time versus a powerful but quick charge. Stores and shops will generally do this service to you for free. When the end of the day comes, go back to the store and ask that they test the battery in front of you. Ask them to look up the battery's minimum cranking amps in a booklet. Armed with this information you can tell the battery's voltage and hold long it can supply that voltage that way you know with relative certainty if your battery will work or if you need to start wearing your running shoes to work.


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