How many of you actually top off a battery?

Joined
Aug 5, 2002
Messages
18,860
Location
Silicon Valley
with distilled water that is. I'm asking this because it seems like most batteries I have, even without top off, last nearly till the end of the warranty period (i.e. 60 months out of a 72 months warranty). How much longer will they last if I do top them off? I'm lazy and with so many things on my mind, I'd leave the battery alone if it doesn't make much of a difference. I'm also afraid of overfilling and have the battery acid spill out.
 
Joined
Jan 10, 2008
Messages
4,998
Location
Milwaukee, WI
On my motorcycle I have to do this about twice a year. On cars I have never had to. I only use distilled in batteries and radiators. A dollar. I can't believe people have a problem with that.
 
Joined
Jun 24, 2004
Messages
2,889
Location
St. Louis
I add distilled water so it touches the bottom of the plastic tab or whatever it is called. I do it because I was told you are supposed to do it. I did have one battery where the batter acid did come out. Auto Zone said it was due to the battery going bad. Other than that, I've been topping off batteries the past 30 years or so. Don't tell it is not necessary, I will be mad about all the time I wasted.
 
Joined
Aug 21, 2008
Messages
25,050
Location
ON, Canada eh?
I used to in my Dodge Caravan that had a serviceable battery, but now all my vehicles don't so I just replace them when they die after 10 years or so. The Generator at home has a battery that is serviceable and I top that off with electrolyte.
 
Joined
Apr 27, 2009
Messages
134
Location
Missouri
I have not had to top off a battery in the last 17 years. Since then I have had nothing but the non-serviceable kind. I haven't had an issue with one not lasting at least 72 months. The one in my truck is still the OE battery which is over 7 years old and still holds a perfect charge.
 

01rangerxl

Site Donor 2021
Joined
Apr 8, 2006
Messages
10,461
Location
Birmingham, AL
All of my vehicles have had maintenance free batteries and I just leave them alone. That has worked fine for me. I think the only battery I have ever added water to was for a lawnmower.
 
Joined
May 6, 2005
Messages
6,982
Location
San Francisco Bay Area
Until I tried popping off the caps recently, I was under the impression that JCI batteries were maintenance-free with glued-on caps. I guess that isn't the case. The biggest problem most people might have is that the batteries are overfilled. I three cars I've bought that were made in Japan, all have come with clearly serviceable batteries from Yuasa, Panasonic, and some obscure brand whose name escapes me at this moment. Each cell had an individual cap with either a slot or knobs. They were all a semi-translucent white color with clearly marked min and max lines. JCI doesn't do this, and a good many of their batteries come in black.
 
Joined
May 7, 2004
Messages
10,910
Location
Nokesville, VA
The only JCI batteries I've seen that had glued-on caps are Ford OE batteries..and I think the caps actually snap and lock into the top of the battery. You probably could still remove them. The caps said "Do not remove" on them, though. I've noticed that the batteries in the cars I've looked at are typically a bit low after 2 years. Not so low that the plates are exposed, but low enough that you have to add some to reach the bottom of the well (so the surface is concave instead of flat). If you let the battery get low to the point that the plates are exposed, it's lost capacity from the exposed part which you won't get back by adding water.
 
Joined
May 7, 2004
Messages
10,910
Location
Nokesville, VA
 Quote:
Each cell had an individual cap with either a slot or knobs.
Anyone know why most all US-made/designed batteries have "ganged" vent caps instead of individual caps for each cell?
 
Joined
Dec 1, 2005
Messages
1,577
Location
Surrey, BC
I top mine off maybe once a year. Seems I have to add a fair bit of water to get them topped off so I imagine it's helpful.
 
Joined
May 6, 2005
Messages
6,982
Location
San Francisco Bay Area
 Originally Posted By: PandaBear
So out of all of you who top off the battery, did you ever get an overfill or spill after driving for a while?
It can be hard to tell. All rechargeable batteries are vented to some degree and can escape even with proper water levels. Of course an overfill will decrease that threshold for venting. I've got a couple of trickle chargers, and the user manuals say that batteries approaching 85% charge will start to form bubbles in the acid. I suppose there needs to be a little bit of room in the cell to allow for this to happen, or it will leak out of the vents. I have heard of batteries leaking like mad after a rollover. I recently saw an RV that turned over in Yosemite. I'm guessing that the battery leaked too. I remember looking at a couple of Costco Kirkland Signature batteries. One Group 51 battery was about 18 months old, and all of the holes had some sort of labyrinth where the water level was more or less visible but one couldn't see the lead plates. Each cap covered 3 cells and were recessed in the top of the battery. I tried to fill all to about the same level where it was just above the plastic shielding the plates. The other one was a brand new Group 35 battery where the plates were visible from each hole. The caps were raised from an otherwise level top.
 
Joined
Jan 12, 2005
Messages
4,353
Location
FL
I just put in 2 cups of water in my mom's car with a Toyota battery yesterday. I think it's only slightly under a year old.
 
Top