The single battery used in models equipped with gasoline engines is located at the driver's side front corner of the engine compartment. Because of the added cranking loads, diesel models use two batteries; one in each front corner of the engine compartment. All models were originally equipped with a Delco Freedom II battery. Though this battery is considered to be maintenance-free due to the fact that it will never need water added, the battery should be given some periodic attention.
Since batteries have a limited life-span, you may have already purchased a battery for your car at one point in time. Many aftermarket batteries are not maintenance-free (meaning they may require the periodic addition of distilled water), and some maintenance-free batteries are not sealed. Any non-sealed battery has caps which can be removed for access to the battery cells. You can remove the caps to check fluid level and specific gravity or to add water.
See Figures 1, 2 and 3
The major cause of slow engine cranking or a no-start condition is battery terminals which are loose, dirty, or corroded. Every 3 months or so, disconnect the battery and clean the terminals of both the battery and the cables. Cleaning tools for this purpose are available at most any auto parts store. When you buy a cleaning tool, be sure to specify whether you have a top terminal or side terminal battery, as the type of tool differs depending upon the style of battery.
To use a terminal cleaning tool on the battery, it will probably be necessary to remove the windshield washer bottle (all models) or the coolant recovery tank (diesel only) to gain the necessary clearance.
See Figure 4
Check the battery cables for signs of wear or chafing. If corrosion is present on the cable or if the wire is visible through the jacket, the cable assembly should be replaced. If cable replacement is necessary, it is best to purchase a high quality part that has the cable jacket sealed to the terminal ends.
Batteries themselves can be cleaned using a solution of baking soda and water. Surface coatings on battery cases can actually conduct electricity which will cause a slight voltage drain, so make sure the battery case is clean.
The quickest test of a battery, without expensive tools, is a by using voltmeter set on the 15 volt dc scale. Attach the leads across the battery terminals it should read about 13 volts with the engine and lights off. If turning the headlights and defogger on lowers the reading below 10.5 volts the battery is too low. Before replacing the battery, charge the battery on a low ampere charger over for several hours, and repeat the test. The voltmeter should not drop below 10.5 volts when cranking the engine with the starter either, but caution must be used to prevent injury and the test could be misleading if the starter is defective causing a greater voltage drop.
If the car engine cranks over normally when cold, but cranks slowly when hot the problem is often NOT the battery. The starter and battery cables should be the first items suspected.
See Figures 5 and 6
Most maintenance-free batteries are sealed, therefore it is not possible to check the specific gravity using a typical automotive hydrometer. 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. The indicator on some aftermarket batteries may vary, so be sure to check the instructions included with your battery if in doubt.
If your battery is of the non-sealed type, various inexpensive hydrometers are available at most auto supply stores to check the condition of your battery. Follow the instructions which come with the hydrometer and carefully check the gravity in each of the battery's cells.
A true test of a battery's condition is the load test. It requires the use of a special carbon pile to simulate an electrical load on the battery. Normally, a battery is tested at half it's cold cranking amps rating or at three times the amp-hour rating for 15 seconds.
Generally, if after 15 seconds the battery voltage is not at 9.6 volts or more, the battery either needs to be recharged or replaced.
See Figures 7 and 8
Any time the engine won't crank, check the color of the battery condition indicator (which is actually a built-in hydrometer). If the indicator is green, the battery is sufficiently charged and in good condition. A complete check of the starter and related wiring should be performed. If the indicator is darkened, the battery is discharged. In this case, the reason for the discharge should be determined (e.g. low alternator output, voltage draw, etc.) then the battery itself should be tested and recharged. If the indicator is light without a green dot visible or if it is yellow in color, the battery must be replaced - DO NOT attempt to test or recharge a battery with this indicator condition. Test the electrical system after the battery has been replaced. A battery should be charged at a slow rate to keep the plates inside from getting too hot.
See Figures 9 and 10
- Raise the hood and remove the front end diagonal brace(s) from above the battery.
- Disconnect the cables from the battery. It may be necessary to use a small box end wrench or a 1 / 4 in. drive ratchet to sneak in between the battery and the windshield washer (or coolant recovery) tank.
- Loosen and remove the battery hold-down bolt and block. The use of a long extension which places the ratchet above the battery makes it very easy to get to the hold-down bolt.
- Carefully lift the battery from the engine compartment. It may be necessary to remove the air cleaner intake duct (except 4-cylinder engines) or the intake resonator (4-cylinder engines only) for clearance.
- Clean the battery and the battery tray thoroughly with the baking soda/water solution. Don't allow the solution to get into the small vent holes of the battery.
- Rinse the battery with clear water and wipe it dry with a couple of clean paper towels. Don't use the towels for anything else, they probably have traces of sulfuric acid on them. Dispose of the paper towels.
- Thoroughly flush the battery tray and the surrounding area with a baking soda/water solution. Using a wire brush, remove any rust which may be on the tray. Clear away the rust and dry the tray.
- Coat the battery tray liberally with anti-rust paint.
- Thoroughly clean the battery and cable terminals BEFORE installing the battery.
- Install the battery in the reverse of steps 1-4. Tighten the hold-down bolt snugly-don't overtighten it.
After you clean the terminals and reconnect the battery, apply a corrosion inhibitor to the terminals. Stay away from using any substance which is not meant specifically for this purpose. Do not apply the corrosion inhibitor to the mating surfaces of the terminals unless specified by the chemical manufacturer.