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January 3, 2012

Timely Trucking Tip

Here’s a timely tip from Bruce Purkey, one of the leaders in the Technology and Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Associations (ATA). Purkey is also a consultant and a designer/manufacturer of all things electrical on a vehicle chassis. He is president of Purkey’s Fleet Electric and can be reached at 800-219-1269 or online at
Battery care
With winter now in full swing across much the country, we wanted to provide some helpful advice on dealing with frozen batteries.
As you can see in the chart below, a battery that is at a full state of charge is almost never going to freeze. However, if a battery is discharged, it will freeze very easily. With all of the electronic components on a truck, there are two things that should be done before parking a truck for an extended period of time:
1. Make sure the batteries are at a fully charged state and test good.
2. Disconnect the ground cable from the battery pack. This will eliminate parasitic loads.

Good batteries should be capable of holding a good state of charge for at least six months. If the ground cable is left connected to the battery pack, the pack will be discharged in one month.

When a battery freezes, the water in the electrolyte expands and can break connections and/or cause other damage inside the battery. Never attempt to charge a frozen battery. If you are suspicious of a frozen battery (sides will be "puffed out") or you cannot hear the electrolyte slosh around when you shake the battery, you must allow the battery to thaw out before attempting to charge the battery. When hooking up a charger, make the connections to the battery with the charger unplugged, then plug the charger in away from the battery.

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