Stoaty wrote:Not sure I want to spend that much, but it might be worth it to avoid a problem while we are backpacking (2 more trips this summer) without replacing batteries unnecessarily.
Like you, I also don't like to replace batteries prematurely. And getting stranded far from civilization is even worse!
- Marktm gave very good advice. Thanks!
- The main enemy of the battery in the LEAF is sulfation. You can easily verify that your LEAF's battery has enough water by shining a stubby flashlight through it from the back. With that done, the question is how badly sulfated is it. Here is the test I do: With the battery in the car and all accessories in place (like ELM 327), charge the 12V battery to full using a good-quality trickle charger. Now let the car sit for 24 hours without opening any doors or the hatch and measure the voltage of the 12V battery with an accurate voltmeter. Here is how I would judge it:
12.7V or above: Your battery is doing well.
12.5 - 12.7V: You have some sulfation, but not a lot. If you have a desulfating trickle charger, use it for a few days to try to recover some capacity.
12.3 - 12.5V: Your battery is pretty sulfated, but you can likely still get some life out of it. Desulfating gets difficult at this point, but you might want to give it a try.
Below 12.3V: You are on the verge of getting stranded somewhere. You battery is badly sulfated and likely will not last much longer.
Again, be sure you do not open any doors during the 24-hour period, especially right before the measurements.
- The above test can be used for any of the other cars to test for sulfation, but those batteries have different needs and likely different problems. The 2002 Camry likely puts low demand on the 12V battery and if it is like my 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid, it likely does an excellent job of keeping the 12V battery charged. Unfortunately, that also means it likely uses up the water in the battery over time. After 5 or more years of use (less in hot climates), you will need to add some distilled water. Just be sure not to overfill it! Unfortunately, many (most?) new lead-acid batteries do not let you check or add water. If that's what you have, then you don't know if your are low on water, or not. That's a problem. And it still needs to start the car, so a load tester is helpful. The cheap one you linked is better than nothing, assuming you check for sulfation and check the water.
If it were me going out with an old battery, tested or not, and I wanted to be sure it started, I would drag along a spare battery or some sort of jump-start box and some jumper cables just to be sure. (If you take a spare, be sure it is secured and that there is no chance of acid spilling. A sealed battery is best.)