How do I Choose the Best Automotive Battery Charger?

J.M. Densing

An automotive battery charger can be a useful item to own, particularly if you drive an older vehicle. Choosing the best one is an individual decision that depends on the needs of the purchaser as well as budget. When selecting an automotive battery charger, consider how the unit will be used and choose one that will best fulfill those needs. Features to consider include portability, jump starting ability, and charging speed. It's a good idea to stick to reputable brands, research the reliability of potential choices, buy the best unit the budget will accommodate, and look for possible bargains.

Some battery chargers feature other tools for emergencies, such as tire pumps.
Some battery chargers feature other tools for emergencies, such as tire pumps.

The average automotive battery is designed to last about five years under ideal conditions, but its lifespan can be reduced depending on driving habits and the use of the vehicle's accessories. Leaving headlights or interior lights on while the vehicle is not running are examples of habits that can cause a dead battery. It can also happen if the vehicle's charging system fails to operate correctly. An automotive battery charger can be a great help in these situations so that the driver can get where he or she needs to go.

One consideration when choosing a car battery charger is whether or not the charger will jump a completely dead battery.
One consideration when choosing a car battery charger is whether or not the charger will jump a completely dead battery.

When choosing an automotive battery charger, it's important to know what the device will be used for. Decide if the unit will be used just at home or if it may be needed on the road. Another question to consider is how frequently the charger will be used; this may be more if the person drives an older vehicle or owns a "hobby car" that seldom goes out on the road. Moreover, the needs of a mechanic are likely to be different than someone buying a charger for home use. Once the purposes of the charger have been identified, decide what features are desired and choose the one that matches these specifications.

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There are a few features to consider when picking an automotive battery charger. For example, if a portable unit is desired, the power source should be considered. Some units need to be plugged in, while others have their own power sources so that they can be used anywhere. Many automotive battery chargers are able to jump start a vehicle with a surge of power, which can be a handy feature to have. Others are solely designed to charge the battery enough so that it can start the vehicle's engine. Charging speed is also a feature to consider; some units can charge a battery in as little as 10 to 20 minutes, while others take hours. Another nice feature is the ability to charge batteries for other items like a lawnmower or snowblower.

It's usually a good idea to stick with a reputable brand of automotive battery charger that will provide reliable service for many years. Once models that meet the desired specifications have been identified, research the reliability and owner ratings of the possible choices. This can be accomplished fairly easily on the Internet. It's also a good idea to buy the best one that your budget will allow; often a better model can be purchased by looking for bargains during seasonal sales at the beginning of summer and winter.

A drained car battery can be started by attaching jumper cables to the battery of another car with a charged battery.
A drained car battery can be started by attaching jumper cables to the battery of another car with a charged battery.

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