What is the difference between charging and maintaining a battery?
A car battery charger is designed to recharge a vehicle’s battery back to a healthy state, whereas a maintainer detects and optimizes a battery’s state of charge.
Are battery chargers/maintainers the same as trickle chargers?
No, but they are very similar. The main difference is that a trickle charger will continue to charge even after the battery is fully healthy, which can result in overcharging. If you use a trickle charger, you must monitor and disconnect the battery at the correct time.
How long will it take to charge my battery?
How long it takes to charge your battery depends on many factors, such as the initial level of charge, battery capacity, and the amperage of your charger. However, if your battery is at a decent level of health, you can expect a full charge between four and 18 hours.
Are all battery chargers compatible with AGM, gel, and lead-acid batteries?
No, compatibility varies. Determine your battery type (lead-acid, AGM, or gel) and then select a suitable battery charger for that specific type.
Can I use my charger/maintainer to jump-start my car?
Yes, there are chargers that cost more and feature jump-starting functions, but we didn’t test any of those this time around. Need a quick jump? Try one of these jump packs.
What is the correct order of connection when charging my battery?
To begin charging, start by attaching the positive side of your battery to the positive lead (red). Next, connect the negative side to the negative lead (black). For disconnection, follows the same steps in reverse.
Can a battery charger charge the auxiliary 12-volt battery on my hybrid?
You can, but exercise extreme caution. Before proceeding, thoroughly research the auxiliary battery. Be particularly cautious around components with bright orange cables as they indicate high voltage, which can be deadly. In short, prioritize safety.
Why Trust Us?
Hearst Autos combines the talent, resources, and expertise of three of the largest, most influential automotive publications in the world. The Gear Team has tested a wide variety of automotive products, parts, accessories, and gear, such as garage flooring, catalytic converter anti-theft devices, and foam cannons. We get our hands on each and every product we test. Most are purchased; some are supplied by manufacturers.
Hearst Autos doesn’t need to game algorithms for traffic or promote lousy products to earn a buck. Instead, we’re more concerned with our legacy, our reputation, and the trust that our readers have in Autoweek, Car and Driver, and Road & Track to deliver honest opinions and expert evaluations.
Visit our Tested & Trusted page to see the very best in automotive gear. Read more about our product testing and evaluation process here.