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How To Diagnose and Treat Battery Sulfation Oct 17, 2016

What Is Battery Sulfation, And How Can You Treat It?

Author : Maddy Phillips Team NOCO Leader

What Is Battery Sulfation?

Battery sulfation is the process of lead sulfate crystals building up on a battery cell. Sulfation will occur to some degree in every battery throughout its lifetime. However, rapid sulfation can occur with extended storage, overcharging, or undercharging of a battery. As more sulfate builds up on a battery cell, the less effective the battery becomes. Sulfation is the number one cause of early failures in lead-acid batteries, and can lead to any of the following: loss of cranking power, longer charging times, excessive heat build-up of your vehicle’s electrical system, shorter running times between charges, and ultimately shortening your battery’s life.

How can I prevent battery sulfation?

If you wish to save money and time by maximizing your battery’s life expectancy, it is simple to prevent battery sulfation. Please consider the following suggestions to prevent excessive battery sulfation: charge your lead-acid battery regularly, give a full charge whenever possible, and do not leave batteries discharged and unused for long time periods. Pictured to the left is a NOCO Genius G7200 7.2A Smart Charger, which is the perfect tool for maintaining your battery. The less maintenance you do, the faster lead sulfate crystal will form and adhere to the battery plates. If you suspect your battery is sulfated, it is still possible to still recover your battery if diagnosed and treated with haste.

How Can I Diagnose My Battery As Sulfated?

If you are victim of a sulfated battery, you will begin to notice the signs decreasing efficiency. The most common sign of a sulfated battery is one that will not charge very well, or simply refuses to charge at all. If you suspect your electronic accessories are not receiving enough amperage (weak a/c, dim headlights) it is a strong sign that your battery is sulfated. If your battery goes dead long before you expect it to, then there’s a good chance it is a result of sulfation. You can test the battery’s standing voltage with a multi-meter. Any less than 12.6 volts means your battery is undercharged, possibly as a result of sulfation. It is also a possibility to conduct a visual sulfation diagnostic test on your battery’s cells. This will require opening your battery, so it is advised to do this on a covered surface, in a well ventilated area. Carefully remove the caps on the battery top with a flat head screwdriver. You should be able to look inside each hole and get a view of the battery cells, separators, and electrolytes level. A typical sulfated battery will have cells and separators which are gray, grimy, and hard to distinguish from each other. In a healthy battery, the silver lead cells will be clean and clearly distinguished from the black separators. Below is a graphic diagram to help with visually identifying battery sulfation.

How Do You Treat Battery Sulfation?

There are two types of battery sulfation. Reversible (soft) sulfation, and permanent (hard) sulfation. If diagnosed early enough, a soft sulfated battery can easily be brought back to life. Desulfating your battery has never been easier with the NOCO G3500, G7200, G15000, or G26000 Smart Chargers. Read below for a step-by-step guide to desulfating your battery with NOCO Smart Chargers.
Car battery under the hood of a vehicle.

Prepare Your Equipment.

Pop your vehicle’s hood, and locate your battery. Ensure your NOCO charger is plugged in, and has a 12-volt Repair Mode feature (G3500, G7200, G15000, G26000 models only).

NOCO Genius Charger attached with provided clamps to car battery.

Attach Clamps.

Connect the NOCO Genius Charger with provided clamps, or permanently attach with the provided eyelet connectors. Be sure to connect to the negative (-) terminal before the positive (+) terminal.

NOCO Genius G7200 Battery Charger and Maintainer charging car battery.

Fully Charge.

For optimal results, take your battery through a full charge cycle, bringing the battery to full charge before using 12V Repair mode.

The mode bottom on the NOCO Genius G7200 Battery Charger and Maintainer charging car battery is being pressed.

Initiate Repair Mode.

Activate the 12V Repair mode on your Genius Charger, and keep it connected to your battery until the battery enters standby mode (orange LED next to power symbol). 12V Repair mode can take up to four (4) hours to complete the recovery process.