You know the scenario: You’re in a rush and your car won’t start. Happy Monday! Don’t fret, most drivers will encounter a dead car battery at some point. The good news is we’re here to teach you how to charge a car battery through these simple steps.
HOW TO CHARGE A CAR BATTERY WITH A BATTERY CHARGER:
1. PREPARE THE BATTERY Let’s see what we’re working with: While most vehicles don’t require battery removal, some car batteries must be lifted out of their holding trays. If your battery needs to be removed, now is the time to do so.
2. TURN OFF ALL ELECTRONICS After the battery is ready for charging, power down all car electronics including interior lights and radio.
3. REMOVE THE NEGATIVE CABLE FIRST, THEN POSITIVE
The negative cable is almost always a black cable marked with a “-” symbol on the terminal.
The positive cable is almost always a red cable marked with a “+” symbol on the terminal.
If your battery has plastic caps over the terminals, pry them free to remove the cables. Then carefully loosen the negative cable and pull it away from the battery. Place the negative cable far from the positive cable to prevent a charge from transferring between the two sources (trust us on this one). Repeat the process for the positive cable and terminal.
4. CLEAN THE BATTERY TERMINALS Cleaning the terminal can neutralize battery acid and prevent malfunctions during the process. Remember – safety first – always wear hand, face, and eye protection. To clean, use a terminal cleaning brush to clear away corrosive debris and dirt from the terminals. You can use a commercial battery cleaning solution, or you can DIY (Do It Yourself) and make your own by mixing baking soda with water.
5. CONNECT THE CAR BATTERY CHARGER NOTE: Your charger may have specific instructions for its operation, so you should always follow those instructions if they contradict these guidelines.
First, make sure the car battery charger is powered off. Then, hook the positive cable on the charger up to the positive terminal on the battery. Repeat the process for the negative cable. Do not reverse these steps, the positive cable has got to be connected first.
With both cables connected, it’s time to turn your charger on. Begin by setting it to the lowest rate by default. If your charger has a timer, set it for the appropriate charge time.
Note: For information on how long to charge your car’s battery, check your owner’s manual or search online for your vehicle’s specific timing needs.
6. REMOVE THE CHARGER AFTER CHARGING IS COMPLETE After the car battery charger has run the desired duration, charging is complete. Now, remove the charger’s connecting cables; some chargers have a meter or indicator telling you when it is safe to do so. Make sure to power the charger off before touching any of the other controls. Only AFTER the charger has been shut off is it safe to remove the cables.
After powering down, remove the positive cable first, followed by the negative. If your battery was removed during step 1, set it back into the tray and install the hold-down clamp(s). Replace the cables on the terminals for your car battery by reconnecting the positive cable before replacing the negative. Now that you know how to charge a car battery, remember that consistent, timely maintenance and proper charging practices help ensure that your battery will deliver.
BRING YOUR CAR INTO JIFFY LUBE® AT YOUR EARLIEST CONVENIENCE
Just because your car is running again though, doesn’t mean your battery is in optimal condition. When you bring your vehicle to one of the more than 2,000 Jiffy Lube locations for a battery check, a trained Jiffy Lube technician will diagnose your 12-volt battery and its amperage through visually inspecting your battery, including the hold-down, connections, and fluid level (if applicable). They will also test your battery’s strength, Open Circuit Voltage (OCV) or resting voltage, and whether your battery is holding a charge.
Additional tests may also be conducted to check your car’s alternator and starter operation. Results will be presented to you so you can make an educated decision based on your vehicle. Make a battery check part of your regular car maintenance regimen. Each time you come in for an oil change, why not ask the tech to inspect the battery, too?