GM Storm/Spectrum 1985-1993 Repair Guide

Battery

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GENERAL MAINTENANCE



Corrosion of the battery and cable terminals interferes with both the flow of power out of the battery and the charge flowing into the battery from the charging system. This can result in a no start condition. If the battery becomes completely discharged, battery life may be shortened. In some cases, a totally discharged battery may not readily accept a charge.

To reduce the need for service and to extend battery life, keep the battery and cable terminals clean and free of corrosion. Make sure the cable clamps are tightly fastened to the battery terminals. If corrosion is found, disconnect the cables and clean the terminals with a wire brush. Neutralize the corrosion with a solution of baking soda and water. After installing the cables, apply a light coating of petroleum jelly to the cable terminals to help prevent corrosion.

Parasitic loads are small current drains which are constantly drawing current from the battery. Normal parasitic loads may drain a battery on a vehicle that is in storage and not used for 6-8 weeks. Vehicles that have additional accessories such as a cellular phone, an alarm system or other devices that increase parasitic load may discharge a battery sooner. If the vehicle is to be stored for 6-8 weeks or longer in a secure area and an alarm system, if present, is not necessary, the negative battery cable should be disconnected at the onset of storage to protect the battery charge.

Remember that constantly discharging and recharging a battery will shorten battery life. Take care not to allow a battery to be needlessly discharged.

FLUID LEVEL CHECK



With Built-in Hydrometer

See Figure 1

All Spectrum and Storm vehicles are equipped with sealed maintenance free batteries. The battery is equipped with 6 vents at the top or side of the battery to allow a small amount of gas produced in the battery to escape. A built-in hydrometer is provided in the top of the battery to determine if the battery is charged, in need of a charge or must be replaced. The hydrometer eye consists of a floating blue or green hydrometer ball which controls what is visible through the window depending on the current electrolyte level. When any blue or green is visible through the hydrometer eye in the top of the battery, there is a sufficient electrolyte level and the battery may be jumped or tested. If the entire window is blue or green, then battery is in good condition. If the eye is clear or light yellow, electrolyte level is low and the battery is need of a charge. If the window is dark, but not blue or green, the electrolyte fluid level is below the hydrometer and is too low for charging and must be replaced.



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Fig. Fig. 1: The battery is equipped with a built-in hydrometer to check the electrolyte level at a glance

CABLE INSPECTION




CAUTION
Always remove the negative battery cable first, to avoid the possibility of grounding the car's electrical system by accident. Failure to do so could allow a spark to occur and cause battery gases to explode, possibly resulting in personal injury.

  1. Loosen the negative battery cable bolt using a socket or box wrench, then remove the cable from the battery terminal.
  2.  
  3. Loosen the positive battery cable bolt using a socket or box wrench, then remove the cable from the battery terminal.
  4.  
  5. Clean both battery terminals using standard battery terminal cleaning tools.
  6.  
  7. Remove the remaining corrosion deposits from the battery and cables by flushing with a baking soda-water solution comprised of 2 teaspoons of baking soda and 1 cup of water.
  8.  


WARNING
Do not allow the solution to enter the battery as this could weaken the electrolyte. Be careful not to allow the flushed deposits to come in contact with painted surfaces as paint damage may result.

  1. Follow the negative battery cable to the transaxle bracket in order to check the connection. If it is loose or corroded, remove the cable and clean the cable end and contact with sandpaper, then reconnect the cable.
  2.  
  3. Follow the positive cable to the starter solenoid, then clean and tighten, if necessary.
  4.  
  5. Apply a small amount of petroleum jelly around the base of each battery terminal to help reduce the possibility of corrosion. Do not thoroughly coat the terminal.
  6.  
  7. Install the positive battery cable to the positive battery terminal and tighten the fastener to 11 ft. lbs. (15 Nm).
  8.  
  9. Install the negative battery cable to the negative battery terminal and tighten the fastener to 11 ft. lbs. (15 Nm).
  10.  
  11. After the cables are installed, coat the top of each terminal lightly with petroleum jelly
  12.  

CAPACITY TESTING



See Figure 2

A voltmeter and a battery load tester is used for this test.

  1. Connect the battery tester and voltmeter cables to the battery terminals, according to the tester manufacturer's instructions. If the battery is installed in the vehicle, be careful not to touch any surrounding metal on the vehicle.
  2.  
  3. Remove the surface charge from the battery by applying a 300 amp load across the battery terminals for 15 seconds using the tester. Turn the load OFF for 15 seconds to allow the battery to recover.
  4.  
  5. Estimate the battery temperature from the battery's surrounding temperature from the past few hours proceeding the test.
  6.  
  7. Find the label on top of the battery that specifies the proper Load Test for this battery, then using the tester, apply this load across the terminals for 15 seconds. The load will likely be around 260 amps. With the load still applied, observe the minimum voltage on the voltmeter, then turn the load OFF .
  8.  
  9. Compare the battery voltage to the estimated temperature to determine if the battery is good. The desired minimum readings should be as follows:
    1. Temperature above 70°F (21°C) - minimum voltage is 9.6V
    2.  
    3. Temperature of 50°-70°F (10°-21°C) - minimum voltage is 9.4V
    4.  
    5. Temperature of 30°-50°F (0°-10°C) - minimum voltage is 9.1V
    6.  
    7. Temperature of 15°-30°F (-10°-0°C) - minimum voltage is 8.8V
    8.  
    9. Temperature of 0°-15°F (-18°--10°C) - minimum voltage is 8.5V
    10.  
    11. Temperature below 0°F (-18°C) - minimum voltage is 8.0V
    12.  

  10.  
  11. A battery which fails this test should be replaced.
  12.  



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 2: Battery load testing schematic

CHARGING




CAUTION
Keep flame or sparks away from the battery. The battery emits explosive hydrogen gas, especially when being charged. Battery electrolyte contains sulfuric acid. If electrolyte accidentally comes in contact with your skin or eyes, flush with plenty of clear water. If it lands in your eyes, get medical help immediately.

When the battery voltage is below 11 volts, the weakened electrolyte becomes very resistant to accepting charger current. A battery in this condition may only draw a few millamps of current. At this rate, it may take a long time before the current flow is high enough to read on all but the most sensitive ammeters.

If after the recommended time, the current is measurable, then the battery is good and will charge normally. Be sure to charge a completely discharged battery until the blue or green eye appears. Follow the charging procedure closely to prevent replacing a good battery.

  1. Using a Digital Volt/Ohm Meter (DVOM) measure the voltage across the battery terminals. If the voltage is below 11 volts, the current draw is likely to be very slow.
  2.  
  3. Set the battery charger's rate at the highest applicable setting for a 12 volt battery. If the charger is equipped with a timer, set the timer for 30 minutes.
  4.  
  5. Check the battery every 30 minutes for a blue or green eye indicating proper charge. Also check the battery for temperatures in excess of 125°F (52°C) and, if necessary, pause the charging procedure until the battery cools.
  6.  
  7. Always make sure the charger is properly connected to the battery. Some chargers have a polarity protection circuit built into the charger and will prevent charging until the circuit is properly connected. A completely discharged battery may not be able to activate such a circuit, thereby appearing not to accept a charge regardless of whether the charger is properly connected or not. If this is suspected, consult the charger manufacturer's instructions on bypassing this feature so the discharged battery may be charged.
  8.  
  9. Because battery chargers will vary in the amount of current supplied to the battery and as stated previously, battery condition will also affect the rate of charge, the time necessary to charge a battery will also vary. The time necessary for a battery to begin accepting a charge should be approximately as follows:

    High boost of 16.0 volts or more - up to 4 hours.
     
    Medium boost of 14.0-15.9 volts - up to 8 hours
     
    Low boost of 13.9 volts or less - up to 16 hours.
     

  10.  

REPLACEMENT



See Figure 3

  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable from the battery terminal.
  2.  
  3. Disconnect the positive battery cable from the battery terminal.
  4.  
  5. Remove the battery retainer nut from one end and bolt from the other, then remove the retainer from the top of the battery.
  6.  
  7. Carefully lift the battery out of the vehicle and place in a safe location.
  8.  

To install:
  1. Inspect and, if necessary, clean the battery tray and the battery cables of all corrosion. Make sure the battery and terminals are free of cracks or damage and that the terminals are also free of corrosion.
  2.  
  3. Carefully lower the battery into position in the battery tray. Do not allow the terminals to short to any bare metal during installation.
  4.  
  5. Position the retainer over the battery and install the fasteners. Tighten the nut and bolt to 71 inch lbs. (8 Nm).
  6.  
  7. Connect the positive battery cable and tighten to 11 ft. lbs. (15 Nm).
  8.  
  9. Connect the negative battery cable and tighten to 11 inch lbs. (15 Nm).
  10.  



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 3: Example of battery mounting

 
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