Can a Car Battery Charge Itself? (Simple Answer)

It’s never fun getting into your car, starting it up, and hearing the click-click-click of the starter instead of a roaring engine. Your car battery, the lifeline of your vehicle, is out of juice and you’re wondering, will it charge back up?

Quick Answer

A car battery can do a lot, but it can’t charge itself. There is no technology built into the car that will charge a dead battery without a little help. A functioning alternator, battery maintainer, or a good old jump-start are necessary if you want to recharge a dead battery.

Without an external power source, a car battery can’t recharge itself. So what can you do? If you are wondering what your options are for a dead or dying battery or wondering how it drained in the first place, keep reading.

How Long Does A Car Battery Last?

Car batteries are built to last for approximately three years and up to five years depending on the conditions of your drive. Extreme weather and high humidity might cause a battery to have a shorter lifespan but you should expect to get at least three years out of a brand new battery.

What Are The Most Common Reasons A Car Battery Dies?

Considering it is the “heart” of your vehicle, it is no surprise that there are several reasons your car’s battery may die. Here are just a few of the common ones:

Human Error – In addition to triggering the car’s ignition so your car can run, it gives power to your lights, air-con, and a number of other functions of your car.  When you forget to turn off the headlights or close the trunk properly, your car becomes subject to battery drain. If left overnight, this may cause your battery to die, especially if it is on its last legs to begin with.

Extreme Temperatures – Here’s a little science for you. When your car sits in temperatures that are either too hot or too cold, sulfate build-up may cause your battery’s life expectancy to dwindle and may cause your battery to take much longer to charge up when you are ready to get on the road.

Defective Alternator – The diodes on an alternator are vital to its function. If the diodes are not functioning properly it could affect the circuits that send electricity to the alternator. This in turn will trigger your car battery to drain.

Loose and/or Corroded Battery Cables –  It is important to check your battery cables for signs of corrosion as it will affect the electricity needed to power and charge your battery while driving. Check for dirt and clean the cables carefully if you suspect this may be a problem. Loose cables will also determine the efficiency of the current running from your car’s battery.

Will A Battery Recharge On Its Own Or Can I Charge It Manually?

If your battery is in fact “out of juice” you’ll need to figure out how to get it started up again. Here are a few steps to take to get your battery working again:

Step 1: Check the voltage on your battery. If the voltage reader is showing between 12 and 12.4 volts you can recharge the battery by driving your vehicle.

Step 2: Drive your car around for about 30 minutes. The alternator will do the work of charging up your battery, just make sure to keep as few electronics off as possible (turn off the radio, lights, etc.)

Step 3: If your voltage reading is below 12 volts your car battery is most likely drained. The alternator will not work to charge your battery at this point.

Step 4: Prepare to give your car a jumpstart. You will need jumper cables or a dedicated battery charger to do this. Using the right equipment will restore your depleted battery to full charge.

Step 5: While getting your car battery up to charge and your car running again is a start, you should take note of the reasons your battery might have depleted in the first place. Assess as to whether or not it’s time to change your battery altogether.

What Is An Alternator?

An alternator is a vital part of your vehicle. It sends and distributes electricity through your vehicle. It also charges your car’s battery.

As the name implies, the alternator alternates the electric currents that power a vehicle. Because a car battery requires a certain flow of electricity, the job of the alternator is to convert this energy so your battery can function properly.

Whether your vehicle’s battery is undergoing some faulty situations or if it’s simply just an old battery that is due for a replacement, it is important to check all causes and take the necessary precautions. Continue reading for more tips on getting the most out of your car battery.

Getting The Most Out Of My Car Battery

To extend the life of your car battery you will need to know a few things.

  1. Short drives won’t allow the time needed for your car to fully charge its battery. Limiting drives that are short distances will help extend battery life.
  2. Limit the use of electronics in the car when idling.
  3. As mentioned earlier, checking cable plugs for corrosion is important for keeping your battery working well.
  4. Make sure your car battery is always securely fastened into the battery terminal, especially if you are prone to driving on bumpy roads.
  5. The simplest things are often the hardest to remember. Don’t forget to switch off all of the lights in and out (headlights) of your vehicle when exiting. This will prevent the battery from draining especially if you are putting the car to rest for the night.
  6. Keep track of your batteries life and test it for strength. The occasional battery test will let you know how much output voltage level your car battery has.
  7. Use routine car maintenance to sustain the life of your car battery. Being up-to-date with inspections and generally keeping your car in good shape will help you get your money’s worth with your car battery.

Frequently Asked Questions About Car Batteries

Car owners need to have a good understanding of their car battery. Here are some commonly asked questions that might help familiarize you with this important power source.

How Long Does a Car Have to Run to Recharge a Dead Battery?

If you suspect the car battery is dying but are still able to start it up, you should take the car out for at least 30 minutes. Running the car for half an hour will get the battery juiced up enough for the next time you try to turn it on. If your car battery is really weak you should drive for a bit longer.

How to Tell That It’s Time for a New Battery?

Many telltale signs will tell you that it’s time to change your car’s battery such as sluggish engine crank, a check engine light, or low battery level. And if you have been keeping track of your car battery’s age, you will know that after about 3 years, it will begin declining in performance. This may mean it’s time to switch out the battery.

What Are the Best Car Battery Brands?

Car batteries, like other power units, have performance and lifespan standards. If you want the most out of a car battery you can consider these brands:

Motorcraft Tested Tough MAX Battery: Long-lasting and reliable

ACDelco Advantage AGM: Good fit is important and this battery rates high in design as well as its recharging cycles.

Delphi MaxStart AGM Premium: This battery is great for bumpy drives. Shock absorbing technology allows for minimal vibration when hitting the not-so-friendly roads.

Odyssey Automotive and LTV Battery: Want some power when you start up your vehicle? This battery with its cold cranking amps gives your ignition a nice strong kick start.

Optima RedTop Starting Battery: Design is important when choosing the right fit for your car. This battery’s special adjustable casing and its exceptional cranking power make it highly rated among car buyers.

Can You Remove a Car Battery to Charge It? Removing a car battery to charge it is fine but you can also charge it while it is in the car. Depending on your preferences you may find it easier one way or the other. Make sure to use the correct type of charger (not all chargers are the same) and use standard safety protocol when handling the battery.

How Much Does a Car Battery Cost? Car batteries range in cost but you can expect to pay around $50 – $120 for a standard battery. Higher-end batteries will cost upwards of $90 to $120. Battery type is an important factor in determining cost so be sure to check your vehicle’s requirements.

Can I Order a Car Battery Online? There are many places to purchase a car battery and online options are plenty. Being a source for a massive range of items, Amazon is a great source for car batteries. Again, be sure to check your vehicle’s requirements when purchasing a car battery.

Wrap up

The life (and health) of your car battery is an essential part of keeping your vehicle at peak performance. Make sure to maintain a routine for checking the strength of your battery as well as the possible causes for damage in order to keep your car running smoothly.

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