One of the first questions that come to mind when a car battery is low is, Can you recharge it? In this article I am going to answer exactly that.
In short, Yes, car batteries are rechargeable. If you just realized that your car battery is dead, you may wonder whether recharging it will work or if the battery is completely shot. The good news is that you can easily bring your car battery to life by simply recharging it.
But first, you need to find out why your battery has died. You may have left the headlights on, which could cause the battery to flatten. While most car batteries do not require a recharge before running for about five years, some may need frequent recharging even before this period.
A car battery that demands regular recharging indicates that you are not giving your vehicle the recommended care and maintenance. It could also point toward a poor-quality battery.
If your car battery indicator is yellow or clear, it means that you need to recharge it to get your vehicle on the road. Here, I’ll show you the best way to recharge your car battery in a few steps. Continue reading to discover more!
How to Recharge a Car Battery
Step 1: Locate the Positive and Negative Terminals
The first thing to do when recharging a car battery is to locate the positive and negative terminals. You can get the battery under the hood and look for ‘+’ and ‘-‘ marks representing the positive and negative terminals. If the terminals have a protective plastic cover, you may want to flip them out of the way for battery recharging.
Step 2: Clean the Terminals
The next thing is to clean the terminals to ensure that no dust or acid build-up prevents efficient current flow. When cleaning the terminals, you need to be extra cautious. If the terminals have a whitish build-up, don’t touch it with your bare hands.
The white build-up is usually dried sulfuric acid, which is a hazardous acid. The best way to clean it is by using a manual sandpaper pad to clean the terminals. You can also use a wet cloth with a layer of baking soda to wipe the terminals clean.
Step 3: Attach the Car Battery to the Battery Charger
The car battery charger uses the household current to charge the battery, and so you need to unplug it from the wall socket and turn the switch off. Then connect the charger’s red clamp to the positive terminal and the black one to the negative terminal.
You can wiggle the clamps slightly to ensure that they are well-connected to the battery’s terminals. For the safest charging, you should keep the battery as far from the charger as possible, depending on the cable’s length.
It’s also essential to handle the battery well and keep it upright when lifting and carrying it for more safety. If you are not sure how to operate the car battery charging device, you should read the instructions in the manual to ensure that you are using it properly.
Step 4: Connect the Battery Charger to the Wall Socket
Once you attach the car battery to the charger, the next thing you need to do is to plug the charger into the wall socket and turn it on. Depending on the charger you are using, make sure that it’s set for car battery charging mode. Then leave your battery to charge for several hours. If the battery was totally dead, you might want to let it recharge overnight.
Step 5: Disconnect the Charger
In the morning, turn the switch off and unplug the charger before disconnecting the battery. If you recharged the battery for a few hours, you need to check the amperage before unplugging the charger. The reading should be less than an ampere. The best thing about car battery chargers is that most of them will automatically shut off after recharging the battery fully. Other car battery chargers have a gauge that shows you when the battery has been fully recharged.
Step 6: Check Whether the Battery Works
After your battery has fully recharged, you need to install it in the vehicle to know whether it works. Ideally, you can use a hydrometer to know the amount of power in the fluid. Once you start the engine, the battery should turn on. If it still doesn’t, you might have to replace it with a new one.
How to Know If Your Car Battery is Dying
It’s easy to know when your car battery’s life is ending, as there are a few warning signs. When your battery is slowing down, the ‘check engine light will start coming on. If you don’t want your car battery to fail while you are in the middle of nowhere, you need to pay attention to any of these signs:
Engine Starting Slowly
The components that make up your battery will eventually wear out, making the battery less efficient. Hence, the battery starts taking longer to create a charge. If the starter doesn’t get the electrical charge on time, it means you have to wait a little bit longer for the engine to start.
So, when you notice that your engine is taking a few more seconds to start than it should, it indicates that your battery is dying. In this case, you’ll need to recharge the battery to prevent it from dying when you are in the middle of nowhere.
Dim Lights and Other Electrical Issues
The car battery powers all the electronic devices in your vehicle, from headlights to dashboard computers and radio. Now, when the battery loses charge, it will not run these electronics effectively. So, you may notice several problems like dim lights.
The battery connectors are usually the positive and negative terminals located on the top side of the car battery. A white, ashy substance may accumulate on these terminals, leading to current flow issues. Sometimes the battery may even fail to start the vehicle efficiently.
An aged Battery
Generally, good-quality car batteries can last for about three to five years. So, you need to consider when you replaced it last for maximum performance. Factors like climate, driving habits, and electronic needs play a crucial role in your battery’s lifetime. It’s essential to regularly test the battery performance soon as it gets to the three-year mark. An old battery may also start producing a foul smell or rotten eggs, which indicates that it’s almost dying.
Are All Car Batteries Rechargeable?
Yes, all car batteries are rechargeable. Today, most vehicles use a single maintenance-free acid battery that recharges itself when the car is running. However, the battery loses the ability to recharge over time, which requires you to recharge it manually from a wall socket.
Do I Need to Charge a New Car Battery?
No, you don’t need to charge a new car battery. Unlike the past, where batteries came dry and had to be filled with acid, new batteries come while fully charged. So, you don’t have to charge it, provided you bought it fully sealed from a trusted manufacturer. You also need to ensure that you are working with a 12-volt or 14-volt car battery.
Can a Dead Car Battery Be Recharged?
Yes, it’s possible to recharge a dead battery in a few steps. You just need to ensure that you have a good car battery charger and a wall socket.
Then read the instructions provided in the charger’s manual to ensure that you are using the device appropriately. If the battery is completely dead, you need to clean the cells first with baking soda and distilled water for a few minutes before recharging.
How Long Does a Car Battery Last Without Charging?
A new car battery can last for about three to five years, depending on the quality and how you use it. If you purchase a new, high-quality, 14-voltage battery from a trusted manufacturer, it may last up to five years without a recharge. However, automotive experts recommend regular battery check-ups when it gets near the three-year mark.
Conclusion on Charging a Car Battery
Like most of your vehicle’s components, the battery is subject to wear and may become less effective in holding power after three to five years of use. If your car battery has died, there is no need to worry as you can easily recharge it by following the guidelines provided in this article.
Robert Anderson is a world class motorhead who rebuilt his first carb at age 10, his first engine at age 15, and completed his first full hotrod build when he was just 18! Previously, he has ran a part warehouse, delivered pizzas, and managed the service department for a $20 million/year revenue dealership. Robert knows cars like few others and he is passionate about sharing his knowledge.