Few things can make a kid go from happy to sad more quickly than these three words: “batteries not included.” After all, the latest electronic toy or gadget is useless without fresh batteries—and that’s why you’d never give an electronic gift without a good set of batteries, right? Right?
The same principle applies to your dirt bike, ATV, or UTV. You need to make sure your vehicle’s battery is properly maintained and charged or your next adventure will be finished before it starts. And you’ll go from happy to sad faster than you can say “Yuasa!”
Pronounced Yu-AH-sah, Yuasa Batteries makes industry-leading batteries for the powersports industry and provides expert technical advice on battery selection, operation, and maintenance. To keep your battery running strong, the company recommends you follow these seven simple steps each month:
- For conventional batteries (at right): Check the electrolyte level. Add distilled water if necessary and never add acid. Before any tests, Yuasa also recommends you charge the battery, so the water and electrolyte mix.For sealed VRLA batteries (maintenance-free and absorbed glass mat) (above): Check the voltage every three months from the date of activation using a voltmeter. When fully charged, it should read between 12.8 and 13 volts after standing one to two hours.
- Use a soft brush and grease-cutting soap or baking soda to clean the top of the battery. Make sure you tighten the plugs so the cleaning materials don’t get into the cells and neutralize the acid.
- Check the battery case, battery cables, and clamps for damage or loose connections. If the case has cracks, discoloration, warping, or a raised top, the battery may have overheated or been overcharged.
- Clean the terminals and clamps with a wire brush to remove any corrosion.
- Check inside for excessive sediment, sulfation, or mossing. Sulfation typically occurs because of continuous discharging or low electrolyte levels and will reduce the amount of time the battery can hold a charge. To prevent sulfation and/or sediment build-up from taking place, keep the electrolyte levels up and maintain the battery’s charge.
- Make sure the battery exhaust tube is free of kinks and clogs. On a dirt bike, it should exit away from the drivechain and from below the swing arm.
- Finger tighten all caps and then test the battery with a hydrometer or voltmeter.
Keep your battery charged to 100 percent (owning a good-quality battery charger is a plus) and recharge when the lights dim, the starter sounds weak, or if you haven’t used the battery in more than two weeks. We’ll share some charging tips in a later post, but for now, make this seven-step plan part or your monthly maintenance routine.