Battery Maintenance by Capt Gus Gustafson
One of the worst things that can happen to a boater is to hear a “click-click” noise when the ignition key is turned on. A dead battery at the ramp usually sets the tone for an aggravating, or perhaps even an aborted outing.
“Battery issues occur all too frequently, particularly at the beginning of a new boating season,” says Interstate Battery representative, Craig Flanagan. The biggest reason is that batteries, regardless of chemistry, discharge over time when not in use. The rate varies, depending on temperature and a variety of conditions, but it is safe to say that a battery that hasn’t been charged for three to six months has lost most of its energy.”
Below are a few tips that might help start your boat motor and keep electrical accessories running properly.
* First and foremost, recharge your marine battery as soon after use as possible to prevent unnecessary loss of capacity.
* Check the fluid levels of each cell at the beginning of the season and monthly thereafter.
* If the electrolyte level (fluid) is below the bottom of the vent well and/or the tops of the plates, add distilled water as needed. Replace the caps firmly.
* Check cables and clamps for damage or loose connections.
* The battery top, terminals and connectors should be clean.
* To prevent splashing and water loss from bubbling, do not remove vent caps while charging.
* Better safe than sorry – batteries that have been in use for two or more seasons are candidates for replacement.
* Don’t leave the dock without a set of battery jumper cables. The longer the better, since they must reach from one boats battery compartment to another.
* Boat towing service companies, like TowBoatUS and Sea Tow, usually include jump-starting your motor as part of their member benefits.
Remember, the problem might not be the battery. There are other issues that can prevent a boat motor from starting. Something as simple as a loose or corroded connection, a tripped fuse, or a battery cutoff switch left in the off position.
Tip from Capt. Gus:
A boat battery more than two years old should be replaced. Regardless of age, it is best to fully charge and top off fluid levels before attempting the first trip of the New Year.
Capt. Gus Gustafson is an outdoor columnist and a full-time professional fishing guide. For more information, or to book a trip, visit www.Fishingwithgus.com or call 704-617-6812.
Booster Cables © John Doe / Wikimedia Commons/ CC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL