Everyone has experienced a dead car battery from time to time. It’s common occurance, especially in winter, when batteries have to work even harder to get you to where you want to go. Fortunately, there’s a solution. A portable car battery charger can help you get moving if your battery is sluggish or dying, so you should always have one as part of your emergency kit.

Now, how do you use a car battery charger? It’s easy, as long as you have a bit of knowledge on your side.

Optimal charging

We hope that you’ll never have a dead car battery that needs charging, but if you do, make sure that you understand how your particular battery charger works. Read the instructions so you know exactly how to use it. Each battery charger is a little different, but generally speaking it simply involves connecting the clamps to the appropriate posts on the battery and then plugging the charger into your household outlet.

Connecting the charger

Once you know all the specifics of your car battery charger, it’s time to connect it to your car’s battery. You can do this with the battery inside or outside the vehicle – it doesn’t matter. Simply attach the positive clamp to the positive post on the battery, and the negative clamp to the negative post. The positive is red, and the negative is black, so all you have to do is match up the colors. You’ll have your dead car battery brought back to life in no time.

Now, set the amps and volts on the charger. If you want to charge the battery slowly, set a low amperage. This is actually the best way to charge your battery, but if you need to start your car quickly, you can use a higher amperage.

Charging

Now all you have to do is plug in your car battery charger and wait for it to reach the proper charge. Most chargers will shut off automatically when the battery is fully charged. Others may require that you check the dial on the charger periodically to ensure that you don’t overcharge the battery.

Unplugging the charger

Once your car battery has been fully charged, all you need to do is unplug the charger and disconnect the cables in the opposite order that you attached them. After that, you should be good to go.

If your battery is constantly losing its charge, that could be an indication that your battery is past its “best before” date. It could also indicate a problem in your car’s electrical system. In such cases, it’s best not to rely on the battery charger – have the problem checked out by a professional mechanic.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as All About Car Battery Chargers and was authored by Valerie Johnston.


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