When it comes time to replace stock batteries in my vehicles, there
are a lot of choices on the market. For the most part,
electrochemical lead acid battery technology is the same from battery to
battery, using lead and lead oxide for the electrodes and sulfuric acid for
the electrolyte. For many years I'd bargain shop for a cheapest
battery to save a few bucks. But as I built up my 4x4's into more
serious recreational vehicles and hit the increasingly demanding trails, I
soon began placing heavier loads on my batteries with high watt offroad
lights, very low RPM crawling over rocks, heavy winching out of situations
and constant restarting during those long days of traveling the mountain
trails. Then there was the winter trips up into the high country where
temperatures sometimes dropped well below zero. Then there are the
high under-the-hood temperatures during the long summer days of slow rock
crawling. There's no doubt that offroad motorsports can be very
demanding on a battery.
At some point years ago I began using a different variety of battery,
the Optima, in my 4x4's. Initially, my understanding about the Optima
was limited to the fact that it was a "non-spill" type battery, which made
it good for those off camber situations I encountered frequently on the
trail. It wasn't until later I began to understand what set the Optima
apart from the other batteries. Much of that understanding came from
the observations and experience. I've purchased several Optima
Batteries over the years, all of which are still in use including one that
has gone through about 12 years and long cycles of heavy use followed by
months in storage (without a trickle charger). With plenty of
experience to look back on, it was clear that an investment in a better
battery was well worth it. I've had batteries fail and I can say, it's
no picnic to be dead stuck somewhere thanks to a bargain buy.
Doing a little reading there were some interesting advantages of
Optima's SpiralCell Technology as they call it. Serious advantages
over conventional lead acid batteries when it comes down to it. First they
have up to 2 times longer life than traditional batteries. They are sealed
and are maintenance free. Can be used in extreme temperatures which have
little effect on power for starting. They are extremely resistance to
vibration. They have a long shelf life for extended periods of storage
without damage or discharge to the battery. They are non-spillable and can
be fitted and used in any position, even installed upside down! They are
compact, providing more starting power within a smaller package. They
sustain less deterioration due to deep discharge and provide more "cycles"
before aging than conventional batteries. They also charge faster when
compared to conventional batteries. Leakproof! The Optima
battery functions even if punctured or broken! Ok, I was sold.
It's no wonder motorsports like NASCAR uses the Optima battery.
So when it was time to replace the stock battery in the truck I use to
trailer my heavily modified Jeep CJ-7 up to the trails, I didn't think twice
about putting an Optima in the truck.
|One thing to be aware of is that you CAN have an Optima battery
shipped to you. Unlike standard car batteries, Optima Batteries
are in the NONSPILLABLE classification and thus can be shipped.
So I didn't have to search around in local stores to purchase the
Optima battery I needed, I could order online and have it shipped to
my address, where it arrived in a box. Ordering online was easy
with plenty choices to find my application.
It might be
obvious to anyone who has worked on vehicles before, replacing a
battery is not a difficult task. However there are a few things
you want to be aware of and a few more tips that may make the job go
easier with better results. So this is my installation:
|Step 1: Remove the battery terminals on your existing battery.
This step is best if done first since you will be working around battery
terminals with tools, so get the cables out of the way. Moving my
cables made it easier to get to the puck adapter that bolts the
battery down to the battery tray.
|Step 2: Unbolt the existing battery. Most batteries have one
of two types of battery hold down brackets. Some use a hold-down
bracket at the base of the battery, while others use a bracket that goes
over the battery. Remove all hold-down brackets.
|Step 3: Take note of where the positive (+, red) and negative (-,
black) terminals are located. It may be obvious on some vehicles but
maybe not so obvious on others, especially if there are long cables
that are unmarked. You will put the new battery in with
your positive and negative terminals oriented in the same location.
Loosen and remove the positive and negative battery terminals from your
existing battery. Some cables are connected to the top of the battery while
others are connected to the side of the battery. Use caution and pull
the cables back way from the battery to allow the battery room to be pulled
|Step 4: Lift your existing battery out of the engine bay.
Watch that you don't make contact with the terminals to any metal on
the vehicle. A dead short will make some serious sparks fly and
could be a potentially dangerous condition.
Step 5: Now is a good time to inspect your existing battery
cables. Look for cracked insulation, heavily corroded terminals, and
broken terminals. If any damage is found or the cables are in poor
shape, consider replacing them. Clean any corrosion off of the battery
cable terminals. This is white, flaky material that has accumulated
over time. Use a wire terminal brush and water to wash away all
corrosion. Baking soda can be used to neutralized the acidic
|Step 6: Optima Battery Adapters
Optima batteries have a
limited number of available physical sizes so Optima provides adapters
for consumer vehicle use to adapt the Optima battery to match the size
of the existing (stock) battery size. Apparently some Optima
Batteries will have adapters while others will not; depending on the
My Optima came with several adapters, a Height adapter, a couple of
wing adapters and a puck adapter.
Now was a good time to size up the two batteries and if necessary,
install the appropriate adapter.
I needed the two wing adapters for my 2003 Ford F-150, which easily
clipped into the base of the battery.
Wing Adapter top view
Removable Carry Strap
Another nice thing that I have always liked about Optima Batteries
is the carry strap that easily slides on or off of the battery
housing. This has always made it easy to remove the battery
without trying to find a good place to grip the battery. So long
as I had the strap handy.
Wing Adapter bottom view
|Step 7: Low in the New Battery - Using the carry strap, lower new Optima battery into engine bay
orienting the positive (+), negative (-) terminals so that they line
up with your battery cables. Again, use caution not to make
contact with the terminals onto any metal. In fact, leave the
protective red and black caps on the battery until you are ready to
re-connect the cables to your new Optima Battery.
|Step 8: Bolt down new Optima battery - You may or may not
need the new Puck Adapter.
Absolutely make sure that the battery
is secure! Give it a good shake to make sure that the
adapters are lined up with your battery tray and that all bolt-downs
are secure. The last thing you want to happen is a loose battery
to bounce around in the engine bay.
Prepping the terminals - It's a good idea to use some dielectric
grease on the terminals and battery posts to help reduce corrosion and
improve battery contact. Dielectric grease is a nonconductive grease
that is used to seal out moisture and helps to prevents corrosion on
electrical connectors thereby ensuring a strong electrical contact.
|Step 9: Reconnect cables. Positive cable to the positive
post and negative cable to the negative post (yes I know.... duh).
Make sure the cable is seated all the way down and tightened snug.
A strong note about use of the side terminals on the Optima
Battery. A lot offroaders look for locations to mount their
winch cables to the battery. DO NOT use the side terminals for
mounting a winch or any other high amp accessory! The side
terminals are not designed to handle the high amp draw that a winch
That's it! Now go re-program your clock and radio station
Also be sure to dispose of your battery properly. Most gas
stations will take your old battery, sometimes for a small fee.
Here are a few handy links!
Optima D34/78 Deep Cycle Starting Battery
Spiralcell Battery Tech
Lead Acid Battery
More on Optima Battery fitment here
More about the Optima YellowTop Battery
about the Optima
What is a battery and how does
Read about the details on how a battery works.
|This is my Red Top Optima in my Jeep CJ-7, which has been in
service for 8 years and still going very strong.
|Anyone need a slightly used battery?