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Fixing a Bad Battery Cell: Troubleshooting and Recovery Techniques

  • Car Care Tips
  • Sara Sam
  • 4 minutes

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A dead battery cell might seem like a prank your car plays on you. However, it is a prank you never asked for! Do you hurry to find an expert, or can you fix the battery yourself? How to fix a bad battery cell? Here’s everything you need to know about jumpstarting that grumpy battery of your car.  

A healthy, well-maintained car battery can survive up to six years. However, a fault in the cells can result in the battery dying sooner than usual. Therefore, checking for bad battery signs is crucial to avoid sudden breakdowns. 

What are the signs of a bad battery cell in a car? 

A cell is said to be dead or dying when it no longer produces sufficient electricity to keep the battery charged. While it happens due to battery wear and tear, the signs can appear early due to corrosion, electrical drains, or loose connections.  

  • Difficulty starting the car, especially in cold weather or after the vehicle has been sitting for a while. 
  • Dim headlights  
  • Inconsistent when turning the key in the ignition. 
  • Frequent need to jumpstart the car. 
  • The battery warning light on the dashboard illuminates. 
  • Engine misfires or rough idling. 
  • Reduced fuel efficiency. 
  • Corrosion or buildup around the battery terminals or cables. 
  • Previous instances of battery replacements or recurring battery issues. 

How do I fix a bad battery cell? 

Fixing a bad battery cell is a task that must be approached with caution. In other words, the acid can be dangerous to work with. Therefore, you need a few safety gears and the necessary equipment for fixing a bad battery cell. 

Requirements to Fix a Bad Battery Cell 

  • Epsom salts 
  • Distilled water 
  • Baking soda 
  • Voltmeter 
  • Screwdriver 
  • Funnel 
  • Battery charger 
  • Eye protective goggles 
  • Chemical-resistant gloves 
  • Apron 
  • Multimeter 
  • Toothbrush 

Use the protective gear 

Wear gloves, goggles, and an apron to protect yourself from possible acid burns. In addition, make sure you choose a well-ventilated area for the process. Similarly, it is better to work under shade and not direct sunlight.  

Clean the battery 

Use the cleaning solution and toothbrush to remove corrosion from the battery terminals. After you’ve finished cleaning the terminals, you should wipe them down to dry. 

Check if the battery can be reconditioned 

Use the voltmeter to check if the battery can be reconditioned. In other words, you can proceed as long as the voltage reads between 10V and 12.6V. However, if the battery has a lower than 10 V voltage, it cannot be reconditioned. 

Open the battery 

Remove the cell caps with the screwdriver. Make sure you use protective gear while opening the battery. Consequently, pour out the acid into a bucket.  

Prepare the cleaning solution 

Mix about 225g of baking soda and 2 liters of water. Pour it into the emptied cells. Shake and clean the cells using the solution.  

Prepare the electrolyte 

In a large mixing bowl, combine four cups of purified water with four ounces of Epsom salt. Stir the mixture until it is completely clear. Consequently, make use of your funnel to restock each individual cell. Keep the battery covered and vigorously shake it for an additional minute. 

Charge the battery 

After you have connected your charger, begin operating it at a speed of 12 volts and 2 amps. It will take 36 hours for the battery to be recharged. You should reinstall the batteries if the voltmeter shows a reading between 12.4V and 12.6V.  

Recheck the batteries 

After reinstalling, check the batteries again by switching on the headlights for a few minutes.  

Frequently Asked Questions 

What happens if the car battery cell is dead? 

A dead battery cell doesn’t work fine. The car will surely display signs of trouble starting or while driving. However, reconditioning can help extend the battery life by 5 years.  

How do I check if the battery cell is dead? 

Check the battery using a multimeter. While zero reading can result from a short circuit, it is due to a dead battery cell if it doesn’t show above 10.5 volts.  

Can I use vinegar as an electrolyte? 

Vinegar shouldn’t be used as an electrolyte. This is because it contains 5% acid, which is bad for the batteries.  

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