How to Tell if an Optima Battery is Bad

The thing with electrical tech is that figuring out the real cause behind why the battery is acting funny is hard. Optima batteries in this term are different from a mainstream battery due to the construction where figuring out what has gone wrong can be possible with several tools. You are reading this article because you felt your Optima battery is not working and we will help you to figure out How to tell if an optima battery is bad. If your Optima is bad besides determining whether the Optima is salvageable.

Battery Expectations

Optima batteries are genuinely known for their added features than regular batteries in terms of function. While a dark-case Red-Top Optima and Blue-Top Optima function as a starting type of battery, the light-cased Yellow-Top Optima and Blue-Top Optima function as a deep-cycle type of battery.

Starting batteries own the structure where they discharge and then need to get charged up and the charging system handles it fairly quickly. The basic idea includes skimming off the electricity by the starter to start up where it refills rapidly once a startup has functioned.

On the contrary, deep-cycle batteries have the functionality of getting discharged in large amounts and charges up later. To elaborate, equipment like the stereo, winch, on-board 12-Volts fridge, etc. tends to consume a high amount of electricity from these types of batteries which then it’s refilled by your charging system.

How to Tell if an Optima Battery is Bad: Step by step

Check Your Optima Battery: Tools

A few couples of tools are required to check the functionality of your Optima. The first tool that needs to be utilized is a voltmeter or multimeter- both will do its job. Since the battery voltage is needed to be measured, set the meter correctly.

If the multimeter has the 20 VDC position, switch to that option. Now, the voltage you are getting from your Optima must show accurate readings that cheaper meters are unable to provide. Regulate the reading with proper meters for more accurate ones.

For the battery test-load, here, a vehicle is more helpful and a helper is always a plus. The last required tool is the charger with the functionality of charging AGM batteries. Many people are unaware of mainstream battery chargers being unable to treat an Optima battery discharged under 10.5-Volts.

However, as an Optima-specific charger alternative to you can count on a regular battery and its charger to charge the drained Optima.

Check Your Optima Battery: First Things First

Some people overcomplicate possible solutions and problem diagnosis for some reasons. The battery connections require attention for corrosion and tightness before concluding that your Optima is dysfunctional.

Because this is simply the most common happening that people face regarding batteries, but this problem is often not checked, and to be sure, you have to;

  • Lightly jiggle the battery clamps (both positive and negative separately) to look for white substance/powder.
  • Insure tightness of the feeds of the main power and your starter.
  • Checking for both corrosion and tightness at the negative (-) battery cable.
  • Look into any grounding straps that are bare wire sometimes or often it is the connection of the engine block and either the body or the frame.

Clean corrosion until you find a clean, and bare-metal connection with the help of sandpaper. With a wrench, you can turn clamps and other connections tighter reasonably. Be careful about damaging the battery post due to more than enough tightness. Again, one of the easiest fixable problems is bad grounds particularly and bad connections but they end up being the last checks often. So, always remember the battery connections has to be looked into first.

Optima Battery: Voltage Testing

Before the beginning of this stage, you need to ensure the Optima is charged. The battery can be considered charged if it was being driven around or stick up with a charger for a bit.

For elaboration, the state of the Optima being charged means it has not been freshly tested or has just come out of storage after sleeping for half a year. Hence, the Optima is supposedly at the normal stage.

Before initializing the process, understand that the applicable voltage range here is 12 volts DC. So, if you can manage a multimeter, have it switched to 20VDC.

The red probe and the positive Optima terminal should be linked where the black probe and the negative Optima terminal should connect and render the first reading- interpretation of such:

  1. With a 100% charge (full charge), the usual/normal range is 12.7 volts to 13.2 volts.

Any reading that belongs to this range refers to a normal charge. It also states that you are associating with the proper range for an Optima.

  1. With a 25-75% charge, the low range is 12.0 volts to 12.4 volts.

If you find your Optima in the second range where it is showing charging is essential, it is simply stating that the Optima can hardly hold or take any charge. Usually, it means your battery has fallen victim to sulfation. Now, sulfation is a process of gathering sulfate during the long time it had been idly sitting without being charged. It can also occur if a battery is deeply drained or simply, old.

  1. The discharged range is 0-11.9 volts

This range states the highly drained but recoverable stage. Generally, 0-volts refer to a short inside the battery or its need of being replaced. However, at a low voltage reading, the probable sulfated state is indicated that often needs a replacement.

Optima Battery: Load Test

Even though the Optima voltage shows alright, it may barely hold a good performance under load. You can get help from an auto-parts store for a load test. It is easier since battery testers are available to such stores nowadays or owning a multimeter can allow you to do it on your own.

The process of load test includes hooking the Optima up to a vehicle and while the starter is running. Here, you need to look into the voltage:

With the multimeter set at the previous position (20VDC) or voltmeter of 12-volts DC range, attach the red probe and the positive Optima terminal where the black probe should touch the negative Optima terminal. This is where an additional helper is required who needs to start the 4×4. But if you are solo, a windshield can hold your meter. You can take long alligator clips to the Optima and watch the meter while the starter motor turns.

For at least 30 seconds, the Optima voltage should read between (9.5-10.5) volts.

We are applying a heavy-load at the over the engine cranker-motor start-up for seeing the battery performance. The alternator, when it starts to spin, begins to raise the voltage. Alternator voltage is simply stating about the charging, not the Optima condition so it can be overlooked.

However, if the battery fails to hold the voltage between the mentioned ranges of (9.5-10.5) volts for the half-minute period, your battery is usually one of two:

An open-cell or excess sulfation

And either of them means the battery is fried. Although the open cell gives an image of Optima doing well in no-load testing, the heat in the battery caused an expansion rendering to lose connections. Terminal contacts, in the same way, can internally crack or break. The connection is functional when still cold with the intact current flow but as soon as they warm up, the contact breaks. I think this helpful article for how to check if an optima battery is bad.