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How to Repair Your Forklift Battery

by Veronica Pembleton on Nov 15, 2017

Although in principle forklift batteries are similar to car batteries when it comes down to repairing them the process is very different. In contrast to car batteries, forklift ones are much larger, weigh more, and are harder to fix or refurb. When it comes down to it, they are deep cycle batteries and can, therefore, be discharged to lower levels without withstanding damage. As an everyday user or warehouse engineer, there are steps you can take to aid the batteries performance such as regular cleaning, replacing fluids, or removing sulfation. Generally, however, the more complex of repairs should be left to the professionals who can utilize their experience and knowledge to ensure the fix is done safely.

The Exam

If your forklift isn’t working correctly you should always start by accessing its traction battery as there could be a multitude of problems that are affecting the performance. Whenever you look to repair a battery you should only repair ones that are performing lower than 80% rated capacity, in this instance, it becomes similar to the repair of a car battery.

Reduced Water Levels

One of the most typical reasons for battery failure is low water levels and can even lead to permanent damage. If the battery dries out, the top of the ‘plates’ will start to erode and even burn, which will leave irreparable damage that will isolate the underwater part. If following this the water levels are then restored, the damage will have already been done causing lasting problems in the form of accelerated water loss and more frequent overheating.

To stop drying out and overheating, you should add water before or after cleaning, but just enough to cover the splash guard – please note that you shouldn’t overfill this. Using a hydrometer to measure if the fluids are 30 percent sulfuric acid and 70 percent water is also important.

Overcharging & Opportunity Charging

If you’re looking at a minimum, any industrial battery should last 1,500 charge cycles over 5 years and each time it’s charged, this counts as a cycle. Therefore, unless it’s in need, it shouldn’t be charged as too often people just charge them whenever they stop using them. This is not a wise step as this can reduce the battery life by at least 50%.

Corrosion

To prevent corrosion you should wash and rinse the battery each year – this helps stop acid vapors escaping during charge, which is a big cause of corrosion. When you do this make sure that all cables and connectors are disconnected before you perform the check or wash.

Remember to Equalize

You need to ensure that every two weeks the batter is equalized using the features on your forklift battery chargers. You don’t want to do this more than once every five charges as this could lead to battery damage and a sharp reduction in lifespan. Once equalized, typically this can add around 3 hours to a charge time.

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