How to Use a Car Battery Charger

Your car battery is typically charged by the electrical system as you drive it down the road. There might come a time, however, where charging the battery is necessary. It just won’t turn over the engine one morning. Knowing how to charge a car battery with an external charger is a great skill to have. Discover the safe steps for charger use right now.

Finding the Battery

Knowing how to charge a battery starts with finding it in your particular vehicle. Meineke points out that the battery might be hidden in a few areas, such as:

  • Within the trunk
  • Behind the fender
  • Deeply seated in the engine bay

Use your car’s manual to find the battery if it’s particularly well hidden. It’s position within the car will determine your next step.

Remove or Not?

Battery University stresses that each car battery charger will be manufactured by a third party. It won’t necessarily fit right into the area containing your battery. Each car design is different. If you can comfortably reach and work around the battery in its original location, there’s no need to remove it. That extra step is meant for harder-to-reach batteries.

Always remove the battery if you cannot reasonably access it. Electrical shock might be an issue with a battery that’s in a tough position. You shouldn’t strain to reach it in the end.

Setting up a Safe Charging Session

Learning how to recharge a car battery means putting safety first. Before you even touch the battery, be sure to shut off any electrical elements. Overhead lights, radios and all accessories must be shut off. Leave even one light on, and you might experience a shock when you touch the battery.

Whether you have a dead battery from overuse or are simply preventing it from freezing over the winter, these safety tips will make the charging session an easy one to complete.

Removing Cables and Cleaning the Battery

Detach the negative or black cable from the battery first. When you learn how to charge a car battery, you know that pulling the negative side will prevent most shocks. Pull the positive or red cable off the battery next. Place them away from each other.

Clean the battery terminals with a mixture of baking soda and water. These terminals tend to have corrosion that might hinder any charging process.

Connecting the Charger

Take a look at your charger. Verify that it’s in the “off” mode. Attach the positive clamp on the charger to the positive side of the battery. Repeat this step with the negative side.

Set the volts on the charger to the lowest value. Activate the charger. A safe setup will produce no event other than an indicator on the charger that it’s delivering power to the battery. Allow the units to work together for now.

Estimating Charging Times

Knowing how to charge a battery means that a proper time must be chosen for the charging process. Most chargers are smart, which means that they sense when the battery is full. You can also gauge the charging session’s length by matching the time to the battery’s specifications. A larger, cold-cranking amp value will require a longer charge time than other batteries, for example.

The Bad-Cell Scenario

Batteries will die back over time. As you learn how to recharge a car battery, you’ll recognize when a product is ready for recycling. After a charging session, the battery doesn’t test well on the voltmeter. It may have the same amount of volts as before the charging session.

There may be one or more cells that are bad within the battery. They cannot be forced to absorb the charging energy. It’s time to replace the battery entirely.

Work alongside Northeast Battery when you have questions about any car battery charger. Our team can show you the ropes of this critical skill. Your car and battery can work harmoniously with a little juice from that handy charger.