Loose, dirty, or corroded battery terminals are a major cause of "no-start." Every 3 months or so, remove the battery terminals and clean them, giving them a light coating of petroleum jelly when you are finished. This will help to retard corrosion.
Check the battery cables for signs of wear or chafing and replace any cable or terminal that looks marginal. Battery terminals can be easily cleaned and inexpensive terminal cleaning tools are an excellent investment that will pay for themselves many times over. They can usually be purchased from any well-equipped auto store or parts department. Side terminal batteries require a different tool to clean the threads in the battery case. The accumulated white powder and corrosion can be cleaned from the top of the battery with an old toothbrush and a solution of baking soda and water.
Unless you have a maintenance-free battery, check the electrolyte level (see Fluid Level Checks in this section) and check the specific gravity of each cell. Be sure that the vent holes in each cell cap are not blocked by grease or dirt. The vent holes allow hydrogen gas, formed by the chemical reaction in the battery, to escape safely.
REMOVAL & INSTALLATION
When it becomes necessary to replace the battery, be sure to select a new battery with a cold cranking power rating equal to or greater than the battery originally installed. Deterioration, embrittlement and just plain aging of the battery cables, starter motor and associated wires makes the battery's job all the more difficult in successive years. The slow increase in electrical resistance over time makes it prudent to install a new battery with a greater capacity than the old.
- Disconnect the negative battery cable terminal and then the positive cable terminal. Special pullers are available to remove clamp type battery terminals.
To avoid sparks, always disconnect the negative battery cable first, and reconnect it last.
- Remove the holddown clamp.
- Remove the battery, being careful not to spill the acid.
Spilled acid can be neutralized with a baking soda/water solution. If you somehow get acid in your eyes, flush with lots of water and immediately consult a physician.
- Clean the cable terminals of any corrosion, using a wire brush tool or an old jackknife inside and out.
- Install the battery. Replace the hold down clamp and tighten securely.
- Connect the positive and then the negative cable terminal. Do not hammer them in place. The terminals should be coated lightly (externally) with grease or petroleum jelly to prevent corrosion.
FLUID LEVEL INSPECTION
Except Maintenance Free Batteries
Check the battery electrolyte level at least once a month, or more often in hot weather or during periods of extended truck operation. The level can be checked through the case on translucent polypropylene batteries; the cell caps must be removed on other models. The electrolyte level in each cell should be kept filled to the split ring inside, or the line marked on the outside of the case.
If the level is low, add only distilled water, or colorless, odorless drinking water, through the opening until the level is correct. Each cell is completely separate from the others, so each must be checked and filled individually.
If water is added in freezing weather, the truck should be driven several miles to allow the water to mix with the electrolyte. Otherwise, the battery could freeze.
TESTING SPECIFIC GRAVITY
Except Maintenance Free Batteries
See Figure 1
At least once a year, check the specific gravity of the battery. It should be between 1.20 in. Hg and 1.26 in. Hg at room temperature.
The specific gravity can be check with the use of an hydrometer, an inexpensive instrument available from many sources, including auto parts stores. The hydrometer has a squeeze bulb at one end and a nozzle at the other. Battery electrolyte is sucked into the hydrometer until the float is lifted from its seat. The specific gravity is then read by noting the position of the float. Generally, if after charging, the specific gravity between any two cells varies more than 50 points (0.50), the battery is bad and should be replaced.
It is not possible to check the specific gravity in this manner on sealed (maintenance free) batteries. Instead, the indicator built into the top of the case must be relied on to display any signs of battery deterioration. If the indicator is dark, the battery can be assumed to be OK. If the indicator is light, the specific gravity is low, and the battery should be charged or replaced.
CABLES AND CLAMPS
See Figures 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6
Once a year, the battery terminals and the cable clamps should be cleaned. Loosen the clamps and remove the cables, negative cable first. On batteries with posts on top, the use of a puller specially made for the purpose is recommended. These are inexpensive, and available in auto parts stores. Side terminal battery cables are secured with a bolt.
Clean the cable lamps and the battery terminal with a wire brush, until all corrosion, grease, etc., is removed and the metal is shiny. It is especially important to clean the inside of the clamp thoroughly, since a small deposit of foreign material or oxidation there will prevent a sound electrical connection and inhibit either starting or charging. Special tools are available for cleaning these parts, one type for conventional batteries and another type for side terminal batteries.
Before installing the cables, loosen the battery holddown clamp or strap, remove the battery and check the battery tray. Clear it of any debris, and check it for soundness. Rust should be wire brushed away, and the metal given a coat of anti-rust paint. Replace the battery and tighten the holddown clamp or strap securely, but be careful not to overtighten, which will crack the battery case.
After the clamps and terminals are clean, reinstall the cables, negative cable last; do not hammer on the clamps to install. Tighten the clamps securely, but do not distort them. Give the clamps and terminals a thin external coat of grease after installation, to retard corrosion.
Check the cables at the same time that the terminals are cleaned. If the cable insulation is cracked or broken, or if the ends are frayed, the cable should be replaced with a new cable of the same length and gauge.
See Figures 7 and 8
Be sure that the booster battery is 12 volt with negative ground.
- Position the vehicles so that they are not touching. Set the parking brake and place automatic transmissions in Park and manual transmissions in Neutral. Turn off the lights, heater and other electrical loads.
- Remove the vent caps from both the booster and discharged battery. Lay a cloth over the open vent cells of each battery. This isn't necessary on batteries equipped with sponge type flame arrestor caps, and it isn't possible on sealed batteries.
- If the terminals on the run-down battery are heavily corroded, clean them before connecting the jumper cables
Identify the negative and positive terminals on both batteries. Connect the jumper cables in the following order:
- First, connect the jumper cable to the dead battery's positive terminal.
- Second, connect the other end of this cable to the good battery's positive terminal.
- Third, connect the second jumper cable to the good battery's negative terminal.
- The last connection with the second jumper cable should be made to a good ground on the dead vehicle, such as the engine block but as far away from the battery as possible.
- Check that the jumper cables are clear of all moving parts such as the fan, fan belts or pulleys etc.
- Start the engine of the working vehicle and run it at fast idle. Try to start the vehicle with the dead battery. Crank it for no more than 10 seconds at a time and let it cool off for 20 seconds in between tries.
- If the vehicle does not start in 3 attempts, there is something else wrong.
- Disconnect the jumper cables in the reverse order.
- Replace the cell covers and dispose of the rags.
See Figure 9
Ford pickups equipped with the V8 diesel utilize two 12 volt batteries, one on either side of the engine compartment. The batteries are connected in a parallel circuit (positive terminal to positive terminal, negative terminal to negative terminal). Hooking the batteries up in parallel circuit increases battery cranking power without increasing total battery voltage output. Output remains at 12 volts. On the other hand, hooking two 12 volt batteries up in a series circuit (positive terminal to negative terminal, positive terminal to negative terminal) increases total battery output to 24 volts (12 volts plus 12 volts).
In the event that a diesel pickup needs to be jump started, use the following procedure.
- Turn all lights off.
- Turn on the heater blower motor to remove transient voltage.
- Connect one jumper cable to the passenger side battery positive (+) terminal and the other cable clamp to the positive (+) terminal to the booster (good) battery.
- Connect one end of the other jumper cable to the negative (-) terminal of the booster (good) battery and the other cable clamp to an engine bolt head, alternator bracket or other solid, metallic point on the diesel engine. DO NOT connect this clamp to the negative (-) terminal of the bad battery.
- Start the engine of the donor truck and run it at moderate speed.
- Start the engine of the diesel.
- When the diesel starts, remove the cable from the engine block before disconnecting the positive terminal.