The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us a lot over a short period of time. Among other things, the lockdown stopped us from venturing out, and that resulted in us not using our beloved two-wheelers for months at end. When the time eventually came for that much longed-for ride, the two-wheeled companion would not start. The reason, if it's not obvious already, was a dead battery. When you do not use your scooter or motorcycle for a prolonged period of time, the battery tends to lose its power. This is not the only reason for the battery to go powerless though, and there are several other small things which can affect the health of your two-wheeler battery. To avoid such failures and other possible problems with your vehicles battery, there are some simple things you can do. Here in this article, we will talk about some simple steps you can take to keep the battery of your two-wheeler healthy, while also making it last longer.
Now the good thing about two-wheeler batteries is, you don't need to be an auto expert to carry out their regular maintenance. The battery in your two-wheeler is made up of different chemicals which produce energy, though they lose their potential over a period of time. While you can't do much about these chemical reactions except for topping up the electrolytes, the maintenance of a battery's exterior is pretty straightforward. Just to be clear, we are not talking about the batteries powering EVs here. EV battery composition is much more complex and they need to be maintained differently. In this article, we are only going to talk about the batteries on our good old petrol-powered two-wheelers.
Park them with care
Parking your two-wheelers in a safe, caring environment is extremely important for their battery health. If you park your vehicle in a cool, permanently covered parking space, you do not have much to worry about. However, in an open, exposed space, it is advisable to use a high-quality vehicle cover. The biggest enemy of the battery is adverse weather. Extreme heat and extreme cold are known to drastically reduce battery life. So, if you live in hot climatic conditions, make sure that your vehicle is always parked in a cool shade. A ventilated cover should serve your vehicle well in hot conditions. If you live in areas with sub-zero weather, make sure that your vehicle is not directly exposed to cold, wind and snow. While indoor parking space is desirable in such conditions, if that's not possible, a thick, heavy-duty cover is strongly recommended. Wet weather is not a friend of the batteries either. Moisture and water seepage can damage your two-wheeler battery beyond repair, so you need to protect your vehicle against direct exposure to moisture and water. Also, if you park the vehicle outdoors, insects and rodents may find a home in the battery compartment, nibble on the wires and may cause permanent damage with their activities. So always park your vehicle in a cool, dry, clean and pest-free space. As mentioned earlier, if you don't have the luxury of a covered parking space, invest in a quality parking cover suitable for the prevailing weather conditions.
It is extremely important that you carry out regular maintenance of your two-wheeler battery. This will not only keep your vehicle's battery in good condition and help avoid any surprise breakdowns, but will also save you replacement costs. Battery maintenance is not rocket science and can be done at home. Even if you are not too inclined towards getting your own hands dirty, you can easily get the battery serviced at the authorised workshops of your two-wheeler manufacturer. If you don't mind some elbow grease, though, here are some maintenance tips that will help you keep your two-wheeler battery in top shape. A word of caution though; always ensure that you are wearing protective rubber gloves while handling the battery and other electrical components.
The battery terminals can pick up dust and grime over a period of time. This leads to corrosion and oxidation of the terminals. Corroded or oxidised terminals do not pass the current efficiently and might give you starting problems or can even lead to some electrical components malfunctioning. Improper voltage can not only damage the battery itself, but also components like bulbs, display consoles, etc. You can avoid this by cleaning the battery terminals once a month. Disconnect the battery, removing the negative, or black terminal first, and the positive, or red terminal next. There are speciality products available to clean the corrosion around battery terminals. You can spray these products around the corroded area and use a brush or a clean cloth (with your protective rubber gloves on) to wipe the terminals down and clear any grime. In case you don't have specialised products to clean the corrosion, you can also use a mixture of baking soda and water to clear the corrosion. Once the terminals are clean, reattach the battery cables in reverse order (red, or positive end first, followed by the black, or negative end).
Apart from corrosion, you also need to clean the sulphate deposits on battery terminals from time to time. Sulphate deposits are common in lead acid batteries, and they are formed when the electrolytes in a battery start breaking down. The process is termed as Sulfation. Sulphates are the white crystalline deposits that you see around your battery's terminals. The main cause for excessive sulfation is over or undercharging the battery. In order to prevent Sulfation, ensure that optimum charge levels are always maintained on your two-wheeler battery.
Lead acid batteries, commonly used in two-wheelers, require a certain amount of electrolytes to function properly. Regularly check the levels of these electrolytes on your vehicle's battery. If the levels are below the suggested markers, top it up with distilled water, battery water which is easily available at all auto spare part shops. Do not, in any case, use tap water for this purpose, as the minerals and impurities in it can cause corrosion inside the batteries.
A newer, and more reliable alternative to the traditional low-maintenance batteries are the new-gen maintenance-free batteries, which incorporate several enhancements over their conventional counterparts. Completely sealed, save for a small vent opening, these batteries don't require any of their fluids to be replenished, and thus, require no service attention. All you have to do in order to keep these batteries healthy is to keep them clean, and charged.
Start your two-wheeler even when it's not in use
Unlike electric vehicles, you do not plug in your two-wheeler battery to an electric socket to charge it. The battery charges automatically as the engine starts running. In short, the more you ride your two-wheeler, the more you charge its battery. Needless to say, if you do not turn the engine on, your vehicle's battery will ultimately discharge. So, if you plan on not using your vehicle for a long time, the least you need to do is to start the vehicle every 3-4 days and keep the engine running for about 5-10 minutes. This will juice up the battery and keep it in a good condition. This will also ensure that you won't have to worry about starting problems when you want to use your two-wheeler during an emergency. This practice is also good for the overall health of the battery. In case you are going on a long 10-15 day vacation and there is no one else who could help perform the cold start, disconnect the battery by removing the terminals. This will ensure that the energy that is already stored in the battery does not drain.
Modern two-wheeler batteries are robust and don't require much attention. Just take care of the few things mentioned above and your two-wheeler battery will serve you faithfully for years without any trouble.