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How to Use a Trickle Charger on Your Classic Car Battery

chargerWinter is in full swing and you likely have your classic car or truck in storage for the season. To make sure your vehicle will start this spring you will need a charged battery. In order to keep your battery at a full charge during the cold winter months you should be trickle charging.

Car batteries slowly lose their charge if not regularly recharged by the alternator. If your car battery is left in storage, the charge will slowly dissipate. A trickle charger is basically a car battery charger that produces a very small current. It only sends the battery a very little amount of juice so that the battery stays fully charged. In simplest terms, a trickle charger is a battery babysitter. Its job is to make sure the car battery gets its daily dose of current while in storage.

Trickle chargers are easy to use and will not only keep your battery properly charged, but will also help extend the life of your battery. They are relatively inexpensive. In most cases trickle chargers are much cheaper than the cost of a new battery making them well worth the investment. Different batteries require different trickle chargers. Do the proper research to make sure that the trickle charger you purchase will work with the battery in your classic.

Assuming that your vehicle is stored in a dry, safe place, here are 5 simple steps explaining how to use a trickle charger on your classic car battery.

Step 1
Pop open the hood and find your battery. This first step is pretty easy. If you cannot locate your battery under the hood, it might be in your trunk (some sports cars place them here for better weight distribution). If you still cannot find the battery you shouldn’t work on a collector car by yourself.

Step 2
Read the instructions and documentation that come with your trickle charger. Some chargers can charge both 6 volt and 12 volt batteries and may have different amperage settings. Make sure that you trickle charger is set to 12 volts for any car battery.

Step 3
With the charger unplugged, connect the red positive (+) alligator clip on the charger to the red positive (+) terminal on your classic car battery. Connect the black negative (-) alligator clip on the charger to a solid ground point on your vehicle. Ensuring a solid ground is crucial to the success of the charging. Bare metal on your frame is ideal. If you cannot find a suitable ground on your vehicle then you can connect the black negative (-) clamp to your black negative (-) terminal on the car battery itself.

Step 4
Once you are certain that you have a solid circuit connected you need to double check to see if your charger has settings for voltage or amperage, make sure that you have the proper settings dialed in for your battery type (refer to your trickle charger’s documentation). If everything is correct then go ahead and plug your charger into an AC electrical outlet.

Step 5
Many chargers will have meters on them displaying the current charge status of your battery. The charger should at minimum have an indicator light to let you know that the battery is charging. It is a good idea to check on the charger periodically to ensure everything is working correctly. Once you are ready to start your vehicle, simply unplug the charger from the wall outlet, disconnect the positive red (+) charger clamp and then remove the negative black (-) charger clamp and your battery should be fully charged and ready to go.

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