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Battery Maintenance and Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Battery Maintenance and Replacement

Tom Morr

Time:

30 minutes30 mins

Tab:

$150 to $275

Talent:

*

Tools:

10mm socket, wrench or ratchet, nutdriver, terminal, post cleaner

Applicable Models:

Mercedes-Benz R170 (1998-04)

Parts Required:

Battery

Hot Tip:

Wear gloves and safety glasses

Performance Gain:

Reliable starting

Complementary Modification:

Replace old or cracked battery cables

R170 SLK batteries are accessible and easy to maintain and replace. In left-hand-drive models, the battery is on the passenger side fender at the firewall. One nut secures the battery to the hold-down bracket.

The lead plates and electrolytes (acid) in the battery's cells degrade over time. Cars that aren't driven regularly and aren't on chargers are susceptible to battery failure.

In cars with healthy charging systems, voltage should measure in the 13.6-14.4 range across the battery terminals with the engine running at fast idle. Any reading higher than that hints at an alternator problem. Battery acid stains are another indication that the alternator's regulator is over-charging the battery. With the ignition off and no load on the battery, voltage across the terminals should be about 12.6 volts.

Batteries vent hydrogen gas and contain toxic sulfuric acid. Play it safe and always wear rubber gloves and safety glasses/goggles when handling car batteries. Also avoid making sparks near batteries--hydrogen gas can ignite.

Start by lifting off the plastic terminal covers, if the battery has them.
Figure 1

Start by lifting off the plastic terminal covers, if the battery has them.

Remove the negative cable first.
Figure 2

Remove the negative cable first. This prevents tool-slippage from inadvertently grounding the positive post during cable removal. 10mm nuts secure the cables to the battery posts.

If the terminal is stuck to the post, special jaw-type pullers are available to remove it elegantly.
Figure 3

If the terminal is stuck to the post, special jaw-type pullers are available to remove it elegantly. Plan B is to gently pry up on the clamp in small increments, alternating sides, or with suitable tools simultaneously on both sides.

A 10mm nut secures the hold-down bracket.
Figure 4

A 10mm nut secures the hold-down bracket.

Lift the hold-down piece off the threaded stud, then rotate it 90 degrees counter-clockwise to unhook it from the fender-side bracket.
Figure 5

Lift the hold-down piece off the threaded stud, then rotate it 90 degrees counter-clockwise to unhook it from the fender-side bracket.

Official Mercedes-Benz batteries have built-in handles to ease removal and installation.
Figure 6

Official Mercedes-Benz batteries have built-in handles to ease removal and installation. Other options are strong-arming the battery out of the vehicle or buying an affordable carrying handle/strap from an auto-parts retailer.

Inspect the fender cavity below the battery tray for lost tools and rodent nests.
Figure 7

Inspect the fender cavity below the battery tray for lost tools and rodent nests. If the battery tray is corroded, consider removing it and refinishing or replacing it.

Battery acid can be cleaned off cable terminals, battery posts, and the battery tray with a solution of baking soda dissolved in water.
Figure 8

Battery acid can be cleaned off cable terminals, battery posts, and the battery tray with a solution of baking soda dissolved in water. Always wear hand, eye, and even nose protection when working near battery acid.

Clamp/post cleaning tools are inexpensive.
Figure 9

Clamp/post cleaning tools are inexpensive. The male brush cleans corrosion off of clamps.

The tool's female end is for the battery posts.
Figure 10

The tool's female end is for the battery posts.

For batteries with removable caps, cells should be checked periodically and topped off with distilled water, after cleaning the area to prevent dirt from entering the cell.
Figure 11

For batteries with removable caps, cells should be checked periodically and topped off with distilled water, after cleaning the area to prevent dirt from entering the cell. The battery's plates need to be completely submerged in order to function at full capacity. Excessive heat, a faulty alternator, and cracks in the battery case can all cause low electrolyte levels in the battery's cells.

Anti-corrosion chemicals and battery post pads help fight gunk formation, improving conductivity between the battery and cables.
Figure 12

Anti-corrosion chemicals and battery post pads help fight gunk formation, improving conductivity between the battery and cables.

A load-tester is an affordable DIY tool for assessing battery health.
Figure 13

A load-tester is an affordable DIY tool for assessing battery health. Alternately, many auto parts stores will test batteries on-site for free.

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