How to charge and maintain car batteries?

Updated Jan 08, 2021 | Same topic: Handy Maintenance Tips

We prepared some handy tips and guide on how to properly charge and prolong the life of your car's battery.

The battery of a vehicle stores the needed energy to start the ignition and keep it running. No one wants to be stuck in the middle of the road caused by a dead battery. This is the main reason why you need to maintain your car battery properly.

As a car owner and driver, you need to make sure the battery of your vehicle is in good working condition. If you don’t know much about car battery maintenance and charging tips, then you’re lucky because we have all that here in this article from Philkotse.com.

How to recharge a car battery?

We will first tackle how to charge a car battery. Note that every time you work on your vehicle, you need to wear proper safety clothing such as gloves and goggles to prevent injury.

Locate the positive and negative terminals

The very first thing you need to do is to find the positive and negative terminals of your car battery. Usually, the battery is located under the hood of the vehicle.

You will see a “+” mark on the positive terminals and “-“ on the negative terminal. Some batteries have protected plastic covers in which you need to flip out before you can charge the battery.

Locating the positive and negative terminals of your car battery.

The very first thing you need to do is to find the positive and negative terminals of your car battery

>>> Related: Car battery - What you should know before making a purchase

Unplug the battery charger from the wall socket before connecting it to the car battery

You need to make sure the battery charger is switched off and not connected to the wall socket so that no current is flowing through it. Note that battery chargers vary and operate differently from one type to another, so you need to carefully and thoroughly read the instructions. Make sure you follow these guidelines correctly.

Attach the clamps to the battery terminal

Remember that the red clamp is for the positive terminal, and the black clamp is for the negative terminal. It's important that you don't interchange them when attaching the clamp.

Wiggle the clamps a bit to make sure they are securely connected to the terminals. To be safe, you need to place the charger away from the battery. Do it as far as the cables allow.

Clamps attached to the car batteries

Remember that the red clamp is for the positive terminal, and the black clamp is for the negative terminal

Plug the charger and turn it on

Now that the clamps are attached securely connected to the battery terminals, you can now plug in the battery charger and switch it on.

As mentioned earlier, you need to correctly follow the instruction that comes with the battery charger to ensure you’re doing the right thing. Most of the time, recharging a car battery will last for several hours.

>>> Related: Car battery charger Philippines: Why you should keep one and what to buy

Car battery maintenance tips

We now come to the car battery maintenance tips. Here, you will know how to make car batteries last longer.

Regularly check and clean car battery terminals

You can use water with baking soda when cleaning battery terminals. Always remember to disconnect the negative side first. You also need to make sure the two wires don’t touch any other metal components of the vehicle.

Make a baking powder and water solution by creating a 1:1 mixture. Use a hard-bristle brush. Dip it into the mixture and scrub the terminals of the battery.

After scrubbing, use a wet rag to wipe down the terminals. Make sure you properly reconnect the battery when you're done. The positive terminal should be reconnected first.

Cleaning the car battery

Use a hard-bristle brush to clean the car battery terminals

Bear in mind that corrosion and rust on battery terminals negatively affect the lifespan and performance of car batteries.

For better protection, you can use a terminal spray to coat battery terminals. It will further prevent the buildup of corrosion.

>>> Related: 5 simple tips to care for your car battery

Regularly check the battery and tighten its hold-down

Car batteries have hold-down bars that keep it stable and prevent damages caused by vibration. When checking the car battery, you should also pay attention to its hold-down. Try shaking your battery and check if it moves. If yes, it means the hold-down is loose.

Note that there are various types of hold-down depending on the car. The bar stretching through the battery top is the most common. Some vehicles have a hold-down pad, which is across the battery’s base.

You can tighten them using a socket wrench and turn the bolts clockwise.

Check the level of battery fluid and add if necessary

Use a flashlight to check the fluid level of each cell. Your battery has sufficient fluid if it covers the battery plates. If not, it means it has an insufficient fluid and needs a refill.

Use distilled water to fill the battery cells until the battery plates are covered, and it reaches the bottom of the cell refill holes.

Don’t forget to wipe off excess fluid using a rag before you replace the vent caps. It's recommended to check the fluid levels of your battery each time you get an oil change or as often as needed.

Also, we recommend using only distilled water instead of tap water. This is because tap water contains dissolved minerals, which affects the performance of the battery.

Using a flashlight to check the fluid level of each cell.

Use a flashlight to check the fluid level of each cell

When replacing a car battery, opt for the one that is less than a month old

Replacing car batteries is crucial because it deteriorates over time. When you need to change your vehicle’s battery, make sure you buy a new one.

Check the manufacture date and opt for a car battery that is less than a month old or manufactured within the last month. Doing so will make sure you get the best battery performance.

New car battery

Replacing car batteries is crucial because it deteriorates over time

Driving regularly will help maintain the charge in the battery

When the car is running, the battery gets recharged. This is the main reason why you should not leave your vehicle idle for an extended period. Drive it regularly to recharge the car battery. Driving 30 minutes once a week can already provide enough charge to the battery.

Knowing how to maintain and charge your car battery properly will not only significantly improve its performance and prolong its life. It will also be beneficial to the overall performance and drivability of your car.

A battery that is in excellent condition will make sure you will not be stuck in the middle of the busy road with a dead engine.

Hanna Sanchez

Hanna Sanchez

Author

Hanna is one of the most competitive swimmers in the country during her day. It was not long before she discovered her passion for the automotive industry as well. Nowadays, she balances her passion through writing as well as coaching.

View more