Car has been in the drive for 3 years and the battery has gone flat. I took it out of the car and opened the cell covers and the water/liquid level in all of them looks kinda low. Also a few of the cells look strange to me like there is a something white and cracked/broken inside of them. I have never looked inside a battery so don't know what to expect.

My question is, is there anything wrong with this battery, can I just add some distilled water and charge it?

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2 Answers 2


You can always try to see if it will work, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, however, more than likely it's a dead soldier. Batteries have about a 5 year lifespan with proper maintenance (ie: regular recharging to keep them at peak charge). When a battery sits for three years without maintenance, they start sulfating and go bad. Once this happens, not much you can do with them but trade them in for a core credit. Again, you can always try, as it won't hurt anything.

I'd fill them up with distilled water like you stated and put it on a low amperage charger for a day or so and see what happens. It can't hurt to try.

In the future, if you're going to leave a battery/vehicle like that, either get a battery maintainer (not a trickle charger) to put on it, or at the very least disconnect it from the vehicle. While there is a small bit of power required for a vehicle which is shut off, it still continually draws power until it can't draw anymore. This is what really kills it in the long haul.

  • i did and the battery leaked all over the place. no harm done luckily. i took it off the charger and checked the battery voltage and it says 12.4v. I opened up the battery cell covers again and it looks two of the cells are still dead, which would explain why the voltage is low and why the battery overflowed. what should i do next?
    – fixeruper1
    Commented Apr 3 at 20:22
  • 1
    @fixeruper1 - 1st, you can't tell if a cell is dead by looking at it. If you're getting 12.4v after charging, that's almost full voltage (13.1+ would be normal). 12.4v would probably start a car ... as long as there is enough reserve. It doesn't surprise me they leaked, that comes from when you charge it too fast. If you want to continue, I'd try ensuring the cells are full again and putting it back on the charger for another round (at 2A or less). Then check the voltage again. If that brings it up any, try it in the car and see what it'll do. Don't expect too much, though. Commented Apr 3 at 20:25
  • ok ill give it a go. when i say dead, I mean i can see white in them like in the picture i posted originally, i assumed that meant they are sulphated hence dead. my charger is an old basic 4 amps (rms) one and i can't change the current.
    – fixeruper1
    Commented Apr 3 at 20:36
  • @fixeruper1 - If there were dead cells, you'd have voltages of ~13v minus 2.2v per cell which is dead (if the cell is shorted) ... or you'd get pretty much nothing at all. Commented Apr 3 at 21:22

You can try but at best expectations it will work for some months maximum, the other thing is Resealing the cover is a hard thing to do and liquid leakage can cause harm and damage to nearby wires and parts

  • yeah it leaked. the covers are standard/old fashioned coin operated ones though. its possible that i didnt tighten them enough
    – fixeruper1
    Commented Apr 3 at 20:24

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