Whitney Russell
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How to Use a Battery Charger for Your Car

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car battery
Sometimes batteries need a little help regaining power

The battery is an essential component to ensure your vehicle stays healthy and runs smoothly for many miles to come. Here’s a brief overview of what a battery charger is and how to use it, so you can extend your battery’s shelf life.

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What is a battery charger?

If you seldom use your car or plan on keeping it parked for more than a month, the vehicle’s battery will lose power. That’s where a battery charger comes in.

Sometimes referred to as a maintenance charger or float charger, a battery maintainer is a device that puts out small amounts of electricity to repower a low battery or a battery that recently died. Unlike a trickle charger, it uses microprocessor technology to protect the battery if you accidentally leave the charger on for longer than you intended.

How to use a battery charger

It takes about 10 minutes to hook up a battery charger to your vehicle’s battery. If you’ve never used one before, follow these simple steps.

Shut it down and disconnect the terminals

Make sure to turn off your car, then pop the hood. Using an adjustable wrench, disconnect the black (negative) battery terminal from the battery and place it to the side, out of the way. Do the same with the red (positive) terminal.

Connect the battery charger

Clamp the battery charger’s red (positive) clamp over the red battery terminal. If your vehicle has a negative ground (most of them do), attach the charger’s black clamp to wither the vehicle frame or engine block. (If you’re not sure, though, consult your owner’s manual and/or call a local dealership’s service department).

Turn it on and wait

Turn the amp switch from 2 to 6 if the battery charger model you’re using has this option. Next, plug it into an electrical outlet, using an extension cord if you need to. Wait for the battery to charge. Many battery chargers have a green light that signals when the battery has completely charged and a red light that indicates that it’s still charging.

Unplug and detach

When the battery is charged, simply unplug the charger from the electrical outlet. Then disconnect the black and red clamps from the battery. Set the battery charger off to the side.

Reconnect the terminals

Hook up the red battery terminal to the positive of the car battery and the black terminal to the negative. Use a wrench to tighten the connections. Close the hood and enjoy having a fully-charged vehicle battery.

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