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Jeep Project CJ-7

An ongoing Budgeted Rebuild/Build up of a Rock
Crawling Machine.

Offroaders Guide to Gearing up for Offroad
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25 Top To Do Tips Before Going Offroad


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Wheeling in the Valley of the Ferns

1.jpg (70086 bytes)
Tellico North Carolina

Paragon Adventure Park
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Optima Battery Upgrade
Optima Battery Review

Why replacing a standard battery with Optima's Spiralcell battery technology is the smart investment.  Installation, Tips and Review


Useful Optima Battery Links:

Optima Performance Batteries
Truck Battery Selector
Optima 4x4 Battery
Optima D34/78 Deep Cycle Starting Battery


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 out.
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.

Battery Brush

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 corrosion.

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 application. 

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 will need!

That's it!  Now go re-program your clock and radio station favorites!

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 Performance Batteries
Truck Battery Selector
Optima 4x4 Battery
Optima D34/78 Deep Cycle Starting Battery

Optima's Spiralcell Battery Tech

Lead Acid Battery Terminology

Optima Battery Specifications

More on Optima Battery fitment here

Group D34/78 YellowTop

More about the Optima YellowTop Battery

More about the Optima RedTop Battery

What is a battery and how does it work?
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?






Jeep Project CJ-7

An ongoing Budgeted Rebuild/Build up of a Rock Crawling Machine.

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Off-Road Lights
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from Off-Road Lights


Jeep Dana 300 TeraLow - 4:1 Gearset for the Dana 300 Transfer Case

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T-18A Transmission Rebuild & Short Shaft Conversion

Black Diamond Suspension Lift install for CJ-7


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Department of Cheap   Tricks and Useful Tips

Ultra-Cool Hand Throttle for Free!

Jeep V8 Swap Tips

The Exploding Clutch

Radiator Protection using 6 bucks worth of material

Cracked Under Pressure - Fixing a smashed fingernail

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Home-built Saginaw Gearbox Brace for the cost of lunch!

Ammo Box Storage - Mounting Them for Quick Disconnect

Home-built Serious Skid-Plate protection for the Oil Pan for under 20 bucks!