How to Charge a Car Battery

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car batteryStoring your car in sub-zero temperatures, not using it for a long time, leaving on headlights or interior lights can all lead to a dead car battery.

Sometimes, you might have to call for roadside assistance to get your car back up and running again once the battery’s gone flat.

However, if you have access to a set of jump leads and a car with a working battery, you can re-charge the battery yourself.

Step One:  Make Sure Your Battery Isn’t Damaged

Check your battery to make sure that it’s not damaged has no cracks or breaks.  There should be no sign of any leaking battery acid.  Don’t attempt to charge your car battery if it’s damaged in any way as this could result in further damage to your car and serious injury to yourself.

Step Two: Protect Yourself

You should be wearing safety goggles and gloves before handling your car battery.  Sulphuric acid can sometimes escape from the battery and it’s very harmful if it comes into contact with your skin.  You should also check that your battery cables aren’t damaged or corroded.  If they’re not too badly corroded, simply clean them as best you can with a dry hard bristled brush.

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Step Three: Arrange the Cars

Position the working car next to the car with the dead battery.  This can either be side by side or nose to nose; the cars must not be touching.  You’ll need to look at the length of your jump leads to make sure the cars are close enough together for them to reach.

Step Four: Hook Up the Jump Leads

Firstly, make sure the car with the working battery is turned off, then open the bonnets of both cars.  Notice where the positive (+) and negative (-) symbols are on each battery.  Now connect the positive jump lead to the positive terminal on each battery.

Then connect one end of the negative jump lead to the negative terminal on the functional car battery.  You then need to connect the other end of the negative jump lead to a grounded metal component of the car with the dead battery such as the frame or chassis.  You should also make sure the area is free from oxidation.

Step Five: Begin Re-Charging

Start the engine of the car with the working battery.  This will begin charging the dead battery through the jump leads.

You must allow a minimum of five minutes before attempting to start the car with the previously dead battery, as this will give the battery chance to build up charge of its own – however, ideally, you should leave it a little longer.

You can now remove the jump leads in reverse from the order in which you connected them.  This will prevent any sparks.  You should continue to run the car with the newly re-charged battery for at least another twenty minutes to allow the alternator to restore even more charge to the battery.

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