How to Charge Your Car Battery

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Make sure when charging a car battery to identify the positive and negative posts before placing charging clamps on. Charge an auto battery with tips from an automotive service excellence (ASE)-certified master auto technician in this free video on automotive maintenance.

Part of the Video Series: Car Maintenance Tips
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Video Transcript

I'm Dave Erb from Dave's Ultimate Automotive in Austin, Texas and we are going to talk to you about charging your battery. The first thing we are going to talk about is why would you need to charge your battery. There are a lot of reasons I could think of. Some might be that the car was left in storage for a while or that someone left a dome light on or someone just came out one morning and it wouldn't start. The only reason to just basically use a charger and then go about your business would be if you do know that you left a light on and/or if it had just sat for a long period of time then you might just want to charge the battery and everything would be fine. Now if your battery just came out one morning and your battery was dead there might be other reasons. The alternator, the charging system of the car not working properly, the battery itself is going bad, so you really need to define why you are charging the battery as to what your next step would be after you charge the battery. But to charge a battery basically you are going to hook up the red terminal normally on a battery charger it is positive and black is negative as long as nobody has accidentally switched those that should be fine. What you want to do is make sure your charger is off at this point. You want to make sure that you identify on your battery which one is positive and which one is negative. A big mistake people make all the time is that they just assume that red is positive and black is negative. That's an industry standard and yes when the car was brand new that probably was true but when someone changes batteries, sometimes they change terminals or change battery cables or maybe they bought a black one and it was a red one, or changed the terminals and now they are both red so just pay attention. Make sure you always look at the battery and determine which one was positive by the plus sign and which one is negative by the negative sign. You hook up your positive to the positive and give it a little twist to make sure you have got a good connection, negative to negative and then on your battery charger you will have several settings. If you are just simply trying to get the vehicle started you would go up to the jump start mode or the engine start mode. If you are just trying to do a long term good charge you want to go down to the lowest setting and just let it go for a few hours. If the battery is healthy it should take the charge just fine and you should be able to start your car and go about your business and that is charging your battery.

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