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Old 07-15-2009, 09:23 PM   #1
Scooby Newbie
Member#: 36076
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Bay Area
2002 Impreza WRX
Pearl Red

Default Anyone know how to refill a car battery?

Hi guys,

I figure since your car fans maybe some people here have the answer.

I have a car battery thats pretty brand new, but a lot of liquid came out from top from being push side to side a lot. So obviously, it needs a refill of
distilled water and sulfuric acid.

I do NOT want to buy a new car battery and am looking to fix up the current one I have.

Do you guys know where I can buy sulfric acid relatively cheap?

Do you know any alternative ways to refill a car battery without acid?

Any advice appreciated.

- U
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Old 07-15-2009, 10:03 PM   #2
Trust no one
Member#: 11170
Join Date: Oct 2001
Chapter/Region: Tri-State
Location: NYC
02 WRX
15 WRX/05 GTO


You don't "fix" a battery. Depending on the actual reason for the fluid loss it may be NG. Internally shorted cells can cause the fluid to boil out. Overcharging or a bad voltage regulator can also cause boilover and this will also damage the battery over time.
If the fluid loss is truly due to agitation and not internal defect or failure, and is not complete, the cells can be topped off with distilled water only (don't fill all the way up, just cover the plates) and then the battery placed on a charger at a slow charge rate. As long as the battery is otherwise ok, it should eventually come up to a full charge. During the charging process the fluid in the cells will begin to bubble and should continue to do so steadily. This should happen evenly across all the cells, if any are bubbling more than the others they may be shorted or damaged.
The charge level in the individual cells can be checked with a battery hydrometer (looks like an eyedropper with little balls in it), available at most parts stores. This will also tell you if any cells are weak or dead.
Of course, the preceding assumes that the battery has removeable cell caps to allow access for filling and testing the cells. If it doesn't, and it's a sealed type, just throw it away now. (Well, you should recycle it in an environmentally sound manner by dropping it off at a shop or store that sells batteries).
Whatever you do, don't attempt to mess around with sulfuric acid, it's really nasty stuff.
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Old 07-16-2009, 10:28 PM   #3
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2006 Legacy


I was going to say something similar to Mulder. I've only hear of adding distilled water to top off a battery, but never actually adding the acid. Be very careful.
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Old 07-17-2009, 12:09 AM   #4
Uncle Scotty
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Originally Posted by useful View Post

I have a car battery thats pretty brand new, but a lot of liquid came out from top from being push side to side a lot.
- U
this should not happen to a battery which leads me to think that the battery has issues and/or some idiot took the caps off and didnt put them back on proplerly

top the cells with distilled water....but JUST to the top of the plates---NOT to the top of the battery.... and be done with it

expect to buy a new battery sooner rather than later
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Old 07-17-2009, 02:19 PM   #5
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Just buy a new battery now rather then ending up stranded when you need to be somewhere...
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Old 07-18-2009, 12:46 AM   #6
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Location: North Dakota
2015 WRX Limitec


first of all. WEAR GOGGLES! It is amazing how easy it is to splash battery acid from doing something simple like removing the caps.

normally you don't add acid to a battery, when you lose electrolyte during normal use, you are losing water only, the water is evaporating out of solution and leaving the acid behind. So adding water just keeps you at what you started with.

In your situation, you apparantly actually lost acid, so I would take the battery to some battery place, explain what happened, and they should have plenty of leftover containers of acid. (batteries are not shipped with acid, they are filled at the retail store, and there is ALWAYS acid left over)
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Old 07-18-2009, 12:52 AM   #7
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yup isnt it like 95% of batts are maintenece free? if not be 1000000000000000% safe its corrosive acid and yes just add water. or better just buy one
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Old 07-18-2009, 04:11 AM   #8
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Old 07-18-2009, 04:27 AM   #9
ruckus racing
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dont. if it's a "sealed" battery, you do not open it, ever. bring it back for a refund/exchange if its new-ish. if not, get a new one. if it's not sealed, just bring it to a shop. if you dont know what youre doing, it's not a good time to try
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Old 07-19-2009, 02:49 AM   #10
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Location: Colorado Springs
2004 Impreza RS


I agree with getting a new battery. Since acid was spilled out from some kind of motion you described I'd also recommend a sealed battery.

Also many batteries say maintenance free. They are not. If they are not truly sealed than they are not maintenance free. I had a so called maintenance free battery that required a refill every couple months due to the local climate's high evaporation rate. What a PITA!

I've also heard that if the electrolyte gets so low that the plates are exposed to air then the battery has already sustained irreparable damage.

The only truly sealed conventional (non-race) batteries I know of are AC Delco, Optima, and Deka batteries. I installed a Deka a few months ago since my battery was starting to go even though it was only 1.5 years old. I was also tired of filling it.
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Old 07-21-2009, 01:38 AM   #11
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batteries which allow you to add water last signficantly longer than ones that dont. (when maintained properly)

You can actually pop off th ecap of so called "maintainance free" ones

You can also technically user a meter to test the battery acid strength. If its too low, you can also buy motor cycle battery acid at autozone. You can then suck some out and put some new stuff in.
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Old 07-21-2009, 03:12 AM   #12
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Location: Colorado Springs
2004 Impreza RS


Actually I've heard sealed batteries last longer. They gas less, nothing evaporates, and the internals are never exposed to outside air.

Here in Colorado Springs with our dry climate and high altitude that seems to hold true. Sealed batteries usually last 1-2 years longer than unsealed batteries. This seems to be whether the batteries are maintained or not.
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Old 07-21-2009, 04:05 AM   #13
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this isn't very helpful people.

If the battery has not been in service and the spill was recent then, using a refractometer, sample the remaining fluid; Replace the fluid in the battery with sulfuric acid of the same density.
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Old 07-22-2009, 12:12 PM   #14
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Just take it back to where you bought it.....it should be under warranty for at least a year/free replacement and then after that you should only have to pay a pro rated amount to replace it. You shouldn't have to buy a battery if it is a relatively new one.

Don't mess with it when you can get it replaced for free or relatively cheap
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