Learn How to Charge a Car Battery
Learning how to charge a car battery is something any driver needs to learn how to do. When you’re stranded and your car won’t start, the first diagnostic you want to do on your car is to whether the battery is dead or not. Recharging the car battery and seeing if you can get it to hold enough juice to start your car is the best diagnostic test you can do.
There are two major methods of recharging car batteries. Charging a vehicle battery from one car to another is the first way you’ll use out on the road. Charging an auto battery from a battery charger is a way to do it at your home.
In this article, I’ll discuss how to charge a car battery with another running car motor, as well as a working battery charger. Let’s start with jumper cables.
How to Charge a Car Battery with Jumper Cables
Recharging an automobile battery from one vehicle to another needs to be done with jumper cables. You’ve almost certainly seen a pair of jumper cables – each end has fork-tongued cables with a separate red clamp and a black clamp on each end. You’ll hook up one red clamp and one black clamp to the dead car battery, then attach one red clamp and one black clamp to the working car battery.
You’ll be attaching the cable clamps to corresponding positive and negative rods on each battery. These posts are color-coded red and black on the battery. Red is positive and black is negative.
When attaching cables, make sure to attach positive-to-positive and negative-to-negative. Also, for the sake of safety, attach cables to the dead battery first, then the live battery second, and finally start the car with the live battery, after you’ve attached these cables.
Starting Car Batteries with Jumper Cables
- Bring a vehicle with a charged car battery within cable range of your dead car.
- Attach the black cable to the black battery post (-). Because of grease and grime, you might recognize it better from the – or negative symbol.
- Attach the red cable to the red battery post (+). Once again, finding the positive symbol might work better.
- Attach the black cable on the other end of the jumper cables to the negative battery post on the running car battery.
- Attach the red cable on the other end of the jumper cables to the positive battery post on the running car battery.
- Start the car with the fully charged car battery. Let the working battery charge the dead battery cells for a minute or so.
- Attempt to start the car with the recharged battery. If it doesn’t start at first, wait another minute and try again.
- If the car still doesn’t start, check to make sure the cables are attached properly. If the car still doesn’t start, your problem is probably not the battery, but something like the starter, the solanoid or the flywheel.
- If you car does start, carefully take the jumper cables off both cars. Don’t turn off the car that needed the charge, because they often don’t have the charge remaining to start up again.
Remember to attach negative cables first, then positive cables. Be careful anytime you’re attaching jumper cables, because there is a lot of electricity coursing through these cables. If you get this part wrong, you can give yourself quite a shock, and even harm yourself.
Enough Charge to Get You Home
Charging your car out on the road or in a parking lot is a way to get your car battery enough charge to get you back home, to the parts store or to the mechanic. Often, a battery that has lost its charge may have lost so much juice that you’ll need to replace it. If you left your interior light on, or if you left your headlights on overnight, this might not be the case.
If you take your car back to the house, you might need to recharge the battery with a battery charge device, before getting it to the start. With that in mind, here’s how to charge a car battery with a battery charger.
Starting Car Batteries with Battery Chargers
- Connect the charger cables to the car battery’s charge posts, much the way you did with the jumper cables. Match black-to-black and red-to-red.
- Plug the battery charger into a wall socket, to give the charger electricity.
- Start the automobile.
- Unplug your battery charger.
- Carefully remove the charger cables from your car battery.
Dealing with Dead Car Batteries
When your car won’t start and you think it’s your car battery, you can take the battery out of the car and have it tested. You’ll need to remove the screws holding the battery in place, while also removing the connectors to the charge posts. Perform both steps carefully.
Once you have the battery out of the car, take the battery into an auto parts store or the automotive section of any store chain and have them test the battery for a charge there. If the battery is dead, you can buy a new battery that fits your car’s motor, while letting the store employees dispose of the old battery.
Know When to Replace Your Battery
Below are a list of factors that tell you it might be time to replace your car battery. If any of these factors apply and your car battery isn’t working, you probably need to buy a new battery.
- Extreme Weather
- Warranty is Expired
- Running Down the Battery Repeatedly
- Poor Maintenance
Extreme Weather – Car batteries often go bad when it gets extremely cold. Extreme heat affects batteries, too.
Warranty Is Expired – Warranties are meant to last about the natural lifespan of the battery. If the warranty is up, you’re battery is living on borrowed time.
Wear and Tear – If your car battery is showing corrosion, that’s a sign you’re probably going to need to replace it soon. If you’ve let your battery run down a couple of times, this is hard on the battery.
Poor Maintenance – Most car batteries are “maintenance free”. If it is not, you need to fill the battery regularly with distilled water. Only use distilled water.
Also, if the battery isn’t in its casing securely, this can cause the battery to slip and slide as you drive down the road, causing a bad connection or other damage. If you notice your battery is shifting about, that means it might be in poor maintenance.
Charging a Car Battery
Knowing how to charge a car battery isn’t hard to learn how to do. Have jumper cables prevents you from having to beg for them or depend on someone to stop and render assistance out on the road – all you’ll need is a running car. Otherwise, go step-by-step in giving your car a recharge, so you don’t shock yourself or damage either battery any further than it already is.