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How to charge a car battery?

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Published: 2010-02-11

There are different ways to charge an empty car battery. In the list below, you can find instructions on how to jump start your car by getting help from someone with a running car. This is something you will probably need when your car battery dies while you are away from home.

Car Battery

Keep in mind

  • Caution: Watch out that cables do not touch each other while still connected! Danger of short circuit! Be careful not to let dangling cables fall into the engine compartment!

Things you will need

  • jumper cables
  • booster vehicle

Step by step:

  1. Another way is to use a battery charger. These chargers can be plugged into a regular household outlet and will charge the car battery while it is not connected to the motor. 
  2. Usually, a battery charger can either perform a slow charge, a quick charge or a so-called trickle charge, the last one being the most efficient method. 
  3. Instructions on how to use a battery charger differ according to the device and can be found in the manual.

To jump start your car, follow the steps. 

  1. The running car has to be parked close to your car so that you can connect both car batteries with the jumper cables. Turn off the electronics in the car with the dead battery, then turn off the running car´s ignition. Both vehicles should not touch.
  2. Clamp the red clamp ("+") to the plus terminal of the working vehicle (booster vehicle) and the other end to the plus terminal of the dead vehicle.
  3. Clamp the black clamp ("-") to the minus terminal of the working car.
  4. Clamp the black clamp on the other end of the cable to a metal surface of the car with the dead battery to have a ground connection. Please note: Do not clamp the cable to the minus terminal. The cables should not come between any moving parts.
  5. When all clamps are properly connected, you can turn on the ignition of the working car. Now, you have to wait for some minutes so that the dead battery is charged. If the dead car does not start after a few minutes, you should wait a bit longer before you try again.
  6. As soon as the dead car is running again, you can remove the jumper cables. Remove the clamps in opposite order from putting them on.
  7. Leave the car running for at least half an hour before turning the ignition off if you want to be able to turn it on again later as the battery needs some time to charge from the alternator.

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