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How to Charge a Flat Car Battery

Updated February 21, 2017

Sooner or later most drivers experience a flat, or dead, car battery. The battery will drain if you left a light on or a door open, or if it has been sitting in extreme cold for an extended period of time. You'll probably need help to charge a flat battery, though the job itself is not time-consuming or particularly difficult. After the first charge is finished, Edmunds.com recommends a second, later charge to restore the battery to optimal power.

Ask someone to help jump-start your car. Have her park her car alongside yours.

Lift up the bonnets on both vehicles.

Clip the positive end of the jump lead to the positive cable on the jumper car's battery. Clip the other positive end to the positive cable on your car's battery. The positive cable is typically red.

Clip the negative (black) end of the jump lead onto the jumper car battery's negative cable. Clip the other end of the negative cable onto a grounded area on your car. A grounded area is any unpainted metal area.

Start the jumper car. Let it run for a few minutes.

Get into your car and start it. If you've set up the jump leads correctly, it should fire up. Continue to run your car with the cables connected for five minutes to allow your battery to charge.

Remove the jump leads in the reverse order they were connected.

Drive home and charge the car battery on a certified battery charger for 12 hours, or drive to an automotive repair shop and have it charge the battery.

If you don't have immediate access to a battery charger or repair shop, drive around for a long period of time to charge the battery.

Warning

Be careful when attaching the jump leads, making sure they are connected correctly. Never try to jump-start a battery that is leaking.

Things You'll Need

  • Jump leads
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