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How to Charge a Car Battery

Car batteries stay charged by harnessing the extra power of the car’s engine, and most can go for at least five years without needing to be replaced or recharged.[1] But even the best car batteries will run out of power eventually or lose their charge prematurely when you leave your lights on too long. It can be a serious inconvenience to find yourself with a dead battery, but recharging one can require very little in terms of tools or mechanical experience.

1: Put on the appropriate safety gear. Safety is paramount any time you are working on your vehicle. Start by putting on protective eye glasses to protect you from any falling material under the hood of the car, sparks or battery fluid in the event the battery becomes compromised. You may also want to wear gloves. Make sure the area you are working in is well ventilated and lit sufficiently to allow you to see where you are going and what you are working on.
Gloves are not necessary but may protect your hands from small pinches and cuts while working on your vehicle.
Make sure there are no children in the area while you work on the battery of a vehicle as sparks could fly if positive and negative cables come into contact with one another.

2: Determine what kind of battery you have. In order to properly charge your battery, you must first identify the type of battery you have. You can usually find this written somewhere on the battery, but you may need to check the manufacturer’s website if the label is too worn to read or missing. You should also find out the voltage of the battery by looking on the battery label or by checking in your vehicle owner’s manual. Types of batteries include:
Wet cell batteries may be serviceable, which means there are things you can do to help improve the charge and the life of your battery.
VRLA Batteries (Valve Regulated Lead-Acid Battery) are completely sealed and require no maintenance. These batteries come as Gel Cell or Absorbed Glass Mat batteries and are less common in cars unless purchased as an after-market modification.

3: Get a car battery charger. Pick a charger that is appropriate for your battery and purposes. Most chargers will work for all types of batteries except Gel Cell batteries. There are fast chargers that can charge your battery quickly or even provide you with a jump start, as well as “trickle” chargers that provide a slow but longer lasting charge. Many newer chargers come with a microprocessor to monitor how much the battery has charged. These digital chargers will then stop the process automatically when the battery is fully charged. Older, simpler chargers must be stopped manually to prevent dangerous overcharging and should not be left alone for extended periods of time while connected.
Read the charger’s instruction manual to make sure you are using your particular unit correctly.
Even new digital chargers should be monitored closely while charging to ensure it functions properly and stops before over-charging the battery.

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