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How to charge a car battery – Car maintenance and care

How to charge a car battery - Car maintenance and care 1

How to charge a car battery

Regardless of how the automotive power source is discharged, it is necessary to restore its capacity correctly. Alas, most motorists do not give due attention to this procedure, just leaving the battery overnight in the garage for charging. Doing this without knowing the devices and features of the charging process of your battery is not only undesirable, but even dangerous. We describe simple battery charging rules.

Theoretical part

In modern transport, lead-acid batteries (WET) are used as the main power source in most cases. Their functioning is based on the principle of generating electrical energy during a constant flow of a chemical reaction (the interaction of an electrolytic solution with lead plates). During operation in the battery, the electrolyte level is significantly reduced, and the plates are naturally destroyed. As a result, the battery capacity may drop to a critical limit, and the power source will no longer hold a charge.

How to charge a car battery - Car maintenance and care 2

Ways to check battery charge

On most modern models of automotive power supplies, a charge indicator is already built-in, by which you can judge the state of the battery. It is a flask made of a transparent material in which a green-colored float is placed. With a satisfactory level and condition of the electrolyte, the float occupies the top position in the flask. This green flag is a testament to the health of the battery. If the indicator is not visible, check the condition and level of the electrolytic liquid, and then charge the battery.

The most effective way to check the battery charge level is to measure it with a multimeter. Transferring the tester to the “voltmeter” position, the voltages at the terminals of the power source are measured, and its value is used to judge how discharged it is. A full charge of a working battery should produce 12.5 V or more. If the deviation from the norm is at least 20%, battery recharging is required.

One of the most reliable ways to check the battery’s performance is to test it with a load plug. This device allows you to track changes in charge level, voltage and battery capacity under load. You can diagnose the battery in this way in any specialized store selling power supplies, or in a car service. In addition, in the arsenal of tools of most garage masters there is a similar device.

Preparing the power source for charging

Before starting to replenish the capacity of the power source, it is necessary to prepare the battery for this procedure. First, remove the battery from the vehicle and clean its terminals from corrosion and oxide deposits. The battery case also needs to be cleaned of dirt, and then wipe it with a rag slightly moistened in weakly concentrated ammonia or in a soda solution.

The next step is to unscrew all the plugs from the battery cover, check the electrolyte level in each of the cans. If necessary, replenish it by adding distilled water. During charging, do not plug the inlet openings of the power source with plugs, as this will reduce the pressure inside the battery case and prevent it from exploding.

Ways to restore battery capacity

There are two main options for charging a car power source:

  1. DC Charging
  2. DC voltage charging

The first is considered the most effective of them, but it takes place in several stages and requires constant presence. A combined method is also known in which virtually no intervention is required. However, it will require a special expensive charger.

We describe the main ways to charge the battery:

  • Using direct current – with this method, the regulator on the charger sets the current value, which is 10% of the battery capacity. For example, for a power source with a capacity of 70 A / h, a charging current of 7A is required. We connect the terminals of the charger to the battery and charge it to 14.5 V. Then we reduce the charging current by half and continue charging the battery to 15 V. After that, we again reduce the current by half and continue charging until the battery voltage is completely stabilized , that is, will not stop changing.
  • When charging with constant voltage, it is enough to set the voltage of 14.3-14.5 V on the charger, connect the battery and wait for charging to complete. The only minus of this method is the time duration (about a day), and the incomplete charge of the power source (80% of its real capacity).

Safety Above All

Since charging the battery is, first of all, a chemical process that proceeds with the release of explosive gas mixtures and toxic substances, safety precautions should be observed:

  1. Do not charge the battery in the apartment. This procedure requires a well-ventilated area..
  2. Do not place the charger and power source in direct sunlight.

It is advisable to always remove the battery from the vehicle, but if this is not possible, always disconnect the onboard power wires from it.


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