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How to Charge a Car Battery

If you are looking for guidelines on charging a car battery, this write-up will be helpful. Read to understand this simple process.
Omkar Phatak
Charging a battery is a job that every car owner should be acquainted with. It is knowledge, which can come in handy, in times of crisis, when it goes dead and you have to think on your own, to get it charged back again.
The one used in your automobile is an electrochemical type, rechargeable battery, which powers all the essential electrical support systems of the car. Without charge, ignition is impossible.
Most batteries are of the lead-acid type and deliver roughly a 12 volt output. This voltage is composite, delivered by six lead-acid cells, connected in series. The operation of these lead-acid batteries involves an electrochemical reaction between lead oxide and lead plates, immersed in diluted sulfuric acid.
Charging induces chemical reactions, which store the electrical energy in chemical form. Then, the chemical energy is converted back to electrical energy, when the battery output is used by the car.
Normally, it is charged by the car alternator. However, if there are certain problems with the alternator or if the car has not been in use for quite some time, it may get totally discharged and require external charging.

Charging it Safely

Always wear protective eye glasses and hand gloves, while charging. You'll need, are wrenches or a socket set, charger, and a wire brush. You will need wires with clamps to connect the terminals. These are usually supplied, along with the charger.
Turn the car off. Firstly, access the battery, by opening the hood of your car. Locate its terminals and remove the positive one. The positive terminal can be identified by a plus sign or by the red color of the wire connecting it.
To ensure maximum conduction during charging, clean the rust and debris, off the terminals. Next, remove cell covers and inspect the water level inside. If the metal plates are not submerged under the water, then you need to add distilled and water. A charger is one thing that you'll need and if you don't have one, consider buying it, as it comes in handy.
Connect the positive clamp of the charger to the positive terminal of the battery. Attach the negative terminal from the charger to metal ground, on car chassis. Set an optimum and preferably low current value on the charger.
Charging with low current takes longer time, but it ensures the long life of the battery. Then, switch on the charger and set the voltage value to 12 V.
Time required for charging depends on the electric current value in amperes, that you select. Charging fully may take as much as 8 hours, depending on the current you set. Consult your local car mechanic for the optimum current and voltage settings.
Some chargers have an indicator light, that tells you when the charging is complete. Otherwise, you could check the voltage value attained through charging, by using a voltmeter. See to it that it shows a value of 12 V, which indicates that the battery has been fully charged. Don't overcharge it, as it may cause loss in efficiency.
Once the desired voltage value is reached, switch off the charger, disconnect it, and put the car connections back in place. Another way of charging, without a charger, in times of emergency, is jump starting.