ARCO Marine's Tech Tip on Proper Battery Care & Maintenance


A good battery can provide four or five years of worry-free service with the right kind of care.


First, take a look at these Points to Remember to get you started out with a full charge, then read on for more highlights: 

  • The battery is the heart of the electrical system

  • Always start troubleshooting at the battery

  • Never store a battery in a discharged state

  • Never add anything except distilled water to a battery


BIGGER IS BETTER!  The battery you are replacing does not have to be the same size as the original.  IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO HAVE EXTRA BATTERY CAPACITY.


dry charged batteries ARCO Marine          Dry Charged Batteries must be charged before using:

Many small batteries are supplied with electrolyte in a separate container. If you have to fill a new battery with electrolyte, YOU MUST PLACE THE BATTERY ON A QUICK CHARGER. The charging system will never bring the battery to a fully charged state. THE BATTERY CAPACITY WILL NEVER BE ABOVE 80%. Pulling the battery out later and trying to charge it will not work. THE BATTERY'S CAPACITY HAS BEEN PERMANENTLY CUT BY 20% AND THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT.


stored batteries will self discharge. ARCO Marine

Batteries will self discharge when stored:                  
Batteries will self discharge when stored for long periods of time. This is a normal process with all lead acid batteries. Always charge the battery to full charge before storying. Also disconnect the negative battery cable. This will keep the small system drains from accelerating the discharge process. The best way to avoid shortened battery life is USE A SMART CHARGER (NOT A TRICKLE CHARGER) on the battery when it's not being used. A smart charger is a charging device that will maintain the battery at full state of charge by only charging the battery when the voltage drops to a specified level without overcharging.


discharged batteries turn to water . ARCO Marine      Electrolyte becomes water in a discharged battery

As a battery becomes discharged, the percentage of sulfuric acid in the electrolyte becomes less. The sulfuric acid combines with the lead plates producing lead sulfate. As this happens, the electrolyte solution becomes pure water. A discharged battery will freeze in cold climates, which will destroy the insulators and plates inside it.


Loose Battery Terminal ends can destroy a battery.     

Loose or corroded battery cable lugs can cause all sorts of problems. When the starter is engaged the loose or corroded connection can cause a heavy arc which will melt the post right out of the battery. If the batter is gassing, the arc can cause the battery to explode. Never use the temporary type battery ends. These are only good for emergency use and will become corroded in a short period of time. ALWAYS USE A CRIMPED AND SEALED BATTERY CABLE END OR REPLACE THE BATTERY CABLE.



  1. Check the battery for loose connections on the battery post.  Clean the battery - top, post, all of it.

  2. Check the water level.  If the level is low, refill with distilled water only.

  3. Protect the battery.  Spray or wipe on protective sealants.

  4. Charge the battery - batteries discharge while stored.


View the full Tech Tips Here: "Important Battery Facts" with "Battery Testing Procedures" on Page 2, "Battery Isolator Circuits", or view our full list of Tech Tips HERE.  You may also be interested in a related blog HERE for Spring Boat TLC Tips.

You can also visit our YouTube Channel for helpful videos!