Motorcycle batteries are relatively smaller than car batteries but possess almost the same voltage power and functionality. A car battery explosion is quite common for various reasons. However, can a motorcycle battery explode for the same reasons as a car battery?
Motorcycle batteries inherit the same substances and fluids used in an automotive battery which is shared across all types of vehicles.
What makes them more dangerous is the position they are installed on a motorcycle which leaves very little scope for escape and survival in case they explode.
It is therefore important to know the facts about motorcycle battery explosions, their causes, and preventions to make your ride safer and risk-free.
Can motorcycle batteries explode?
Yes, motorcycle batteries can explode under certain conditions and reasons inclusive of human error and technical mal-functionalities.
One of the main causes of motorcycle batteries exploding is overcharging.
Some of the other reasons include the environmental conditions the batteries are used in and the ways they are handled and maintained.
Low-quality charging instruments and accidents/clashes can also contribute to the causes of motorcycle battery explosions.
Learning more about these causes will help you identify the problem early and take action proactively.
Automotive batteries are prone to discharge with usage. The process to recharge the battery includes using a battery charger or jumper cables.
Many motorists accidentally leave the battery on charging for too long which creates a risk of explosion.
The electrolyte process in a battery which works on a combination of sulfuric acid and water releases vaporized particles in the air in the form of hydrogen gases.
When the battery is overcharged it disturbs the electrolyte process breaking the water elements that increase the level of hydrogen gases.
Overcharging also causes a battery structure to overheat which then begins to ignite sparks with the help of surrounding hydrogen gases. This is also called a thermal runaway process that is invoked while creating too much heat during charging.
The overheating scenario is not limited to overcharging. A faulty electrical system of a motorcycle that is not functioning properly can generate too much heat while charging.
The excessive build-up of heat and hydrogen gases leads to a potentially dangerous situation of battery explosion.
To prevent a battery explosion due to overcharging proper scheduling and monitoring are necessary.
On many occasions, motorcyclists tend to leave the battery charging for a long time. This should not be the case. It is better to plan the charging process well in advance. Ensure to take proper precautions of the surroundings where you are planning to charge.
Secondly, keep the flammable items away from the motorcycle while charging. Lastly, ensure to monitor the proceedings of charging at regular intervals.
Above all make sure the charger you are using is of good quality. Low-grade battery chargers heat up early and may explode before completing the charge also damaging the motorcycle battery.
Very high temperatures are responsible for the premature degrading of motorcycle battery substances.
When the Fahrenheit is too much to handle, the electrolyte process is unbalanced. The water is reduced and the concentration of sulfuric acid buildup is wide and thick.
This leads to much faster evaporation of flammable gases in the air making the battery vulnerable to catching fire and eventually exploding.
Similarly, cold temperatures have adverse effects on battery substances making them freeze quickly. The frozen liquid doesn’t allow the battery’s chemical reaction to function properly making the battery unusable.
More often than not, motorcyclists find it difficult to start the engine in cold temperatures. This attempt of starting a motorcycle in freezing cold many times create sparks owing to chemical reaction and hydrogen gases.
In some cases, sparks could blow up the battery with continuous efforts of starting the bike.
To avoid battery explosions in challenging weather conditions it is crucial to protect the motorcycle by parking it under the shelter or garage.
Secondly, keep a tab on the battery condition in hot weather. Make sure to test the voltage power regularly and charge it as soon as you find a drop in voltage.
In cold temperatures, try to keep the motorcycle warmer by running the engine for a while. If the charging is down recharge the battery connecting to a charger and ensure the battery is good enough to hold the charge.
If you are planning to take a trip in the cold or hot weather protect yourself with proper clothing and carry the necessary charging units with you to counter any motorcycle battery issues.
Jump-starting a motorcycle is quite evident when you travel in testing environmental conditions which makes a battery loses its charge quickly.
Jump-starting a bike is very effective in boosting the motorcycle if done correctly. However, improper cable connections, faulty jumper cables, unsuitable charging conditions, and non-compatible donor vehicles could pose a risk of fire and explosion.
Whenever you face a jumpstarting situation ensure to keep the following points in mind:
- First of all, ensure that the motorcycle or vehicle getting used for jumpstarting has the same voltage power and amperage levels as that of your motorcycle battery.
- Secondly, choose a location that is away from normal traffic or any residential area for jumpstarting.
- Make sure the charger or jumper cables you are using are of really good quality. Do not use damaged or melted jumper cables for jumpstarting.
- Attempt to perform jumpstarting only if you know the process. Any negligence or casualness in connection and charging could damage both vehicle batteries.
A short circuit is another cause of concern that arises frequently in hot or cold weather conditions. Any shorts appearing due to overheating in the electrical system could enhance the current flow leaving the battery charge-less.
When the battery is low on charge it gets heated up quickly with continuous usage. The sparks and explosion could be the end result of short circuits and overheating of motorcycle batteries.
It is sensible to avoid using a motorcycle in unsuitable weather conditions. However, if the need arises ensure to take short intervals while traveling to keep the motorcycle battery and other parts under control.
When a motorcycle is severely clashed with another vehicle or falls on the road the damage could be beyond imagination. One particular victim of motorcycle accidents is batteries.
Clashes and accidents make the motorcycle parts vulnerable to catching fire and when a motorcycle battery comes in contact with such fire it can potentially explode.
While you can’t do much in such a situation like this except save yourself first it is always better to keep the battery well-maintained and protected in a battery case to minimize the damage.
- Lastly, you can’t ignore the fact of aging batteries. Automotive batteries are made to last for 3-5 years. The age factor may vary depending on the usage, maintenance, and environmental conditions.
If the battery has crossed its lifespan its structure and internal components are at risk of succumbing to the challenging conditions of usage.
Therefore, an aging battery is equal to a time bomb waiting to explode if not maintained properly or used too much without replacement.
Tips to prevent a motorcycle battery from exploding
Now that you know the causes of a motorcycle battery explosion it is better to be proactive in preventing the battery from exploding by following the below tips:
- Check the position of the battery. Make sure it is properly installed and mounted securely in its compartment.
- Keep the battery clean from corrosion. Use a wire brush and a cleaner to regularly clean the battery which otherwise builds up the resistance and heat causing malfunctioning and electrical hazards.
- Avoid overcharging the battery. Make sure to use chargers that are specifically designed for automotive battery charging. A trickle charger or advanced smart charger could be a good option to keep overcharging in check and raises timely alerts.
- Keep the battery away from direct sources of heat and sunlight. Extreme temperatures result in overheating which potentially causes an explosion.
- Do not use damaged or frayed wires for connection. Also, ensure the cables are properly connected as any loose or exposed wires produce short circuits that can damage the battery.
- Inspect the battery periodically to identify any damage, leakage, or cracks. If you suspect or find anything abnormal seek professional help to repair the damages. Do not use a battery that is over-aged.
Can a motorcycle battery just go bad?
A motorcycle battery cannot go bad just on its own. It takes various factors such as age, usage, exposure to extreme temperatures, etc. to impact the health and functionality of a motorcycle battery.
If the battery is not properly maintained it may develop cracks, corrosion, and leakage lines which makes a battery go bad at any moment.
It is therefore important to monitor the battery’s performance, inspect the condition regularly and repair or replace it when necessary to avoid inconveniences while riding.
Do bike batteries need water?
Not all bike batteries need water. The water requirement is negligible for batteries that are sealed and maintenance-free.
For batteries that need maintenance periodic inspection and water filling are necessary to get standard performance.
Distilled water is used to fill automotive batteries depending on their type and requirement. It is best to consult the manufacturer’s instructions or seek professional guidance on filling water in a battery.
How do I know if I need a new motorcycle battery?
There are a few signs that indicate you may need a new motorcycle battery.
These signs include difficulty in starting the motorcycle, dimming of headlights, battery not holding the charge for too long, electrical issues, damage or leakage on the battery case, corrosion, and more importantly if the battery has crossed its age limit.
Unlike a car where the explosion of batteries takes place under the hood and a driver has ample time to escape the scope of defiance is the bare minimum if a battery explodes on a motorcycle.
To keep yourself and your motorcycle protected from battery explosions it is important to learn the exploding causes and take proactive action.
Due to the open stance and exposure to all kinds of temperatures a motorcycle battery is vulnerable to multiple deficiencies including overheating, sparks, electrical hazards, corrosion, etc.
It becomes extremely important to verify the condition of your motorcycle battery every 1-3 months or earlier if you are a frequent rider.
As and when you see symptoms that pose a risk or damage to the motorcycle battery ensure to perform maintenance, repair, or replacement according to the need for a smooth and peaceful ride.
I hope you have understood the context of motorcycle battery explosion and are now in a better position to handle it after reading this post.