If you've never tried charging your car battery before, you might be wondering how long to charge a battery that is “acting up" for the first time. Also, how can you tell if your car battery is at the end of its life and can no longer hold a charge? What are the expert recommendations associated with using a charger vs jump starting your car? Read on to find out, and while you're at it, check out popular battery accessories.
CHARGING YOUR CAR BATTERY: DETERMINING FACTORS
If you're wondering how long to charge a car battery, the first and most important detail to take into account is the underlying reason behind why your battery needs charging. There are many possible causes behind your battery's inability to deliver enough electricity to your car, and not all of them have to do with its ongoing performance. Think about your cell phone or laptop — any battery that can be recharged can only withstand so many charge/discharge cycles before it starts to weaken. The battery may be getting old, and adverse conditions like corrosion or cold weather could contribute to the problem, as well. However, in this scenario, most batteries recover after a quick jump start (as long as the vehicle's charging system is working properly). If the battery is old, it might still be possible to recharge it. But if even an advanced charging system is incapable of getting it functioning properly, then you might have to consider replacing it.
Advance Auto Parts stores offer free battery testing and installation*.
WHICH BATTERY CHARGING METHOD WILL YOU USE?
Before asking how long it takes to charge a car battery, we have to look at the methods designed to make the charging process as quick and smooth as possible. Aside from jump starting (the fastest, but not always the most efficient method), you can also consider using a reliable car battery charger. There are many chargers available on the market, from small systems designed to be light and affordable to highly advanced, automatic battery chargers. These modern chargers not only offer efficiency, but they will also switch to a low-amp maintenance mode once the battery has a full charge.
JUMP START YOUR CAR – THE QUICK SOLUTION
Jump starting is a simple process that can get your battery working again in no time — or more precisely, after only one or two tries. If the battery needs several tries or doesn't charge at all, then it is possible that it might be dead. Jump starting can also reveal other potential issues. For example, if your battery doesn't charge at all after being jump started, the problem might be the alternator, the terminals, the connectors or the charging system components. Consult a qualified technician to figure out what the issue is before jumping to replace your car battery.
HOW LONG TO CHARGE A BATTERY: WHAT MAKES THE TIME VARY
There are many possible issues that could lead to your car battery taking a long time to charge. Depending on the age of your battery, the capacity and construction of the charger and the charging technique used, it may take a few hours to reach a complete charge. However, always be prepared to leave the charger on overnight in case it takes longer than expected. Look for a charger that goes into maintenance mode — this means it will be a trickle charge, ensuring that overcharging won't be an issue. Figuring out these factors beforehand can help you estimate how long it will take to get back on the road.
*Car battery testing and installation available on most automotive vehicles, at most locations, unless prohibited by law.