Motorcycle Battery Maintenance and Care Tips
Your motorcycle needs starting power to get you going, and that power depends largely on the battery.
Maintaining your motorcycle's battery helps ensure starting power stays strong. It also saves you some money by extending battery life, so you don't have to replace it as often. A little due diligence is all it takes to preserve and prolong the life of your motorcycle's battery whether it's active or in storage.
There are 3 basic types of motorcycle batteries:
- Wet cells with liquid electrolytes
- Gelled electrolyte
- Absorbed glass mat or dry cells
Since a wet cell battery is the most commonly found type of battery on motorcycles and requires the most maintenance, we'll focus primarily on those. And while the other battery types require less routine maintenance, they all still require juice from a charger when in storage.
Motorcycle Battery Maintenance
A monthly check during riding season will help keep your battery healthy:
Check fluid level: You may need to top off a wet cell battery with water every now and then. Use only distilled or deionized water in a ventilated area to top off the cells, wear safety equipment, and make sure the caps are replaced tightly.
Inspect connections: Look for cracked insulation on cables, and make sure that connections are tight. If your battery has a hose coming off of it to vent off gas from inside the battery, make sure that hose isn't kinked or clogged.
Clean the battery: Keep the top of the battery clean, including the terminals and connectors, as dust and other contaminants can corrode the battery.
Test the battery: Check your battery with a multimeter. A fully charged 12-volt battery should show a charge of about 12.6 volts. If you're seeing only 12 volts, the battery is almost due for replacement.
Motorcycle Battery Storage
Places with harsh winters are a tough time for batteries. If you're not going to be riding for a few weeks or more, doing just a little bit of maintenance can keep the battery healthy while it's in storage.
Charge the Battery
A motorcycle battery faces an early death when it discharges during storage. A multi-stage charger can help keep your battery healthy while it's inactive.
If you're going to use a trickle charger — which can overcharge and damage a battery — make sure it has a bulk, absorption, and float stage for long-term storage.
Your motorcycle's battery is a combination of engineering and chemistry. It requires certain conditions to work at its best, and a little routine maintenance can help you get your money's worth.
Cold weather can cause batteries — especially a discharged unit — to freeze and crack, which will destroy them, so store your battery somewhere warm enough to prevent this from happening.
Leaving your motorcycle's battery in storage without properly checking up on and charging it can kill it, so stay on top of the basic maintenance if you don't want to replace it just yet!