Do you need a motorbike battery replacement or repair? Find out the key signs that you have a faulty motorbike battery and what to do next.
Finally getting your motorbike licence is an amazing feeling. With a motorbike, you can enjoy unparalleled freedom on the open road.
If you want to get the most out of your motorbike, you need a reliable battery that’ll keep you safe on the road for years to come. These lead acid batteries are also called storage batteries, as they store the electricity generated by your motorbike’s charging system. This electricity can then start the engine and also power other electrical systems on your bike (e.g. the headlights).
Unfortunately, your motorbike battery doesn’t have an infinite lifespan. After around four years, you may start to notice problems with your battery that indicate it needs to be repaired or replaced.
But what do these problems look like? Keep reading to discover the 12 key signs that you need a motorbike battery replacement or repair.
1. Your motorbike is taking longer to start
If you’ve noticed that your motorbike takes much longer to start than it used to, this could be a sign that your battery is in need of repair. For example, if you have to turn the key in the ignition multiple times before it starts, this can indicate damage to your battery.
Never ignore ignition issues with your motorbike. It may seem like a small inconvenience for your motorbike to take longer to start, but if your battery is damaged, your motorbike could suddenly stop in the road one day if the battery fails. Always take your safety seriously by getting your bike checked out by a professional as soon as issues arise.
2. Your motorbike won’t start at all
One consequence of ignoring long ignition times, is that your motorbike may suddenly fail to start at all one day. Other issues with your motorbike could cause ignition failure, but since a dead battery is one of the most common causes, it’s best to check your battery first to rule it out.
If the problem is definitely caused by your battery, a motorbike battery charger may be what you need to get things running again. If charging doesn’t work, the dead battery will either have to be repaired or replaced depending on the damage.
3. Dim headlights
Various electrical systems within your motorbike will be affected by the battery, including the headlights and horn. So, if you notice that your headlights are dim or flickering and your horn is getting quieter, it may be time to check your battery.
A newer battery may just need to be charged to restore the headlights and horn to their former glory, but if this doesn’t fix the problem, you’ll be looking at a motorbike battery replacement or repair.
4. Multiple electronic issues
In addition to electronic ignition and the lighting system, there are many other electrical systems within your motorbike that rely on the battery. If the battery is faulty and in need of repair, you could notice a few problems with your motorbike.
Therefore, if you’re noticing a lot of new issues cropping up, you should take a look at the battery first to see if that’s the root of the problem. Once your battery is repaired or replaced, you should hopefully see a lot of the other issues being resolved.
5. Your motorbike battery can’t hold charge
When you start noticing electric issues, your first response may be to get your motorbike battery charged. If your battery is in good condition, charging it should solve your problems.
However, if your battery is old or damaged, it may not hold its charge very well. This means that if your battery quickly stops working again even after you just charged it, you should think about getting it repaired or replaced.
In some cases, failure to hold charge could be caused by a bad alternator draining your battery. Make sure you check the root cause of the issue before jumping to conclusions, as you may need to repair another component rather than the battery itself.
6. Inconsistent multimeter readings
If you’re concerned about your battery, it’s a good idea to measure the voltage and ensure that you get consistent readings. Inconsistent multimeter or voltmeter readings can be a sign that your battery is in need of repair, especially if you can’t get good readings even after charging it.
To get a voltage reading with your voltmeter or multimeter, you need to touch the positive or red lead to the positive terminal and the black or negative lead to the negative terminal. A reading of 11 volts or less means you need to charge your battery, and if you get very inconsistent readings even though they’re minutes apart, this is a sign that your battery is faulty.
7. Built-up sulphation
Sulphation occurs when a lead acid battery (like your motorbike battery) is deprived of full charge, undercharged or used infrequently (like if you’ve applied for a SORN to keep your bike off-road for a while). During the discharging process, the lead active materials on the battery’s plates corrode with the sulphate from the battery’s electrolyte, causing a build-up of lead sulphate on the plates.
During normal use, the build-up of lead sulphate crystals is only temporary, but if the battery isn’t used often or charged fully, larger crystals can form permanently. This will cause the battery’s capacity to get smaller and smaller until the battery stops working.
To avoid this issue, you need to fully charge your motorbike battery when needed. However, if you already notice a lot of built-up sulphation on your battery, it may be time to repair or replace it.
8. Corroded terminals
Sulphation can also cause corrosion on your battery’s terminals, which can stop your battery from working properly.
However, corroded terminals don’t necessarily mean you need to repair or replace your battery. Cleaning the terminals can help them function properly again, so cleaning and wiping the battery terminals regularly is an important part of battery maintenance. If your battery still doesn’t work after this, the terminals could be broken.
9. The motorbike battery is deformed
One of the most obvious signs that there’s something wrong with your motorbike battery is that it’s physically deformed. This can include bulges, cracks, bumps, discolouration and leakage.
A swollen battery can be particularly dangerous. Motorbike batteries may start to swell due to overcharging or damage to the battery, as excess heat and gas are produced. Swollen batteries are more likely to catch fire, explode or leak toxic fumes if punctured, so it’s essential that you regularly inspect the physical appearance of your battery and get it repaired or replaced if it looks wrong.
10. The battery is leaking
Battery leakage can be caused by severe oxidation, a lack of use, overcharging or very cold conditions. Even just using an old battery can put you at risk.
In the case of oxidation, leaking acid can escape through the terminals or cracks caused by a build-up of gas. Alternatively, during very cold weather, the battery acid can freeze and therefore expand, causing cracks in the battery where acid can leak through.
It’s extremely unsafe to drive with a leaking battery. You should inspect your battery regularly to check for leaks and deformities, and if you spot an issue, you need to take your motorbike to a professional to remove the battery safely. It’s also a good idea to store your motorbike in a warmer place if you live in a very cold climate, as this will keep it in good condition for longer.
11. The battery is discoloured
Battery discolouration isn’t always a sign that your motorbike battery needs to be repaired, but it’s always worth investigating further to determine the root cause. Sometimes, discolouration can be caused by regular wear and tear or staining from the interior of the motorbike, but it can also have more concerning origins.
Discolouration can indicate corrosion, battery leakage or other signs of internal damage to the battery. If you think the discolouration is caused by something more serious, this is a clear sign that you need a battery replacement or repair.
12. You can’t remember the last time you replaced your motorbike battery
As mentioned in the introduction, a motorbike battery will typically last around four years. Can you remember the last time you replaced your battery? Have you replaced it since you got your licence?
If you can’t remember, it may be time to get a replacement battery. Replacing the battery before it shows signs of damage will help you stay safe on the road.
Instead of buying a new battery, would you be interested in getting a brand new motorbike? No matter your circumstances or credit score, Superbike Loans can help you find the bike of your dreams. Take a look at our finance calculator or contact us to see what kind of loan you could get.