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Are Car Battery Chargers Universal?

Are Car Battery Chargers Universal?

A car battery charger lets you recharge your car’s dead battery, which is a very handy tool indeed if you ever find yourself stranded with a dead battery.

If you’re looking to pick one of these gadgets up, you’ve probably noticed that there are tons of different types available.

All you really want is something to recharge your battery. Will any car battery charger work for any battery or do you need to find one for your specific make and model?

Car battery chargers come in lots of different designs and offer many different features, but any functional car battery charger should work for any car battery. Car battery chargers are universal, so, regardless of your vehicle’s battery or the charger you pick up, you don’t have to worry about compatibility issues.

You can use a car battery charger to charge any type of battery in your car.

That includes lead-acid batteries, AGM batteries, and gel cell batteries as well. 

Are All Car Battery Chargers Compatible?

Most of the time, you’ll have a lead-acid battery under the hood, unless your car has a ton of electronics. Then, you’ll probably have an AGM battery powering it. 

No matter what, you can charge them using a battery charger. The basic principle behind a battery charger doesn’t change. They all have two wires that end in clamps you can use to hook onto the battery. 

One of them has a negative charger, and it’s usually a black cable. The positive one is going to be red, most of the time. 

You’ve just got to hook up each wire to the corresponding terminal on your car’s battery. Usually, you can simply look for a + sign to see which terminal is the positive one. That’s where you’ll hook up the red cable from the charger. 

Connecting the black cable to the battery’s negative terminal will complete the circuit. Once you’ve done that, you can begin charging the battery by turning on the charger. 

Types of Car Battery Chargers

There are a few different charger designs available today. Most of them are trickle chargers, the simplest kind. 

Trickle chargers deliver a steady current that doesn’t change over time. You’ve got to hook them up to your battery, manually.

And, you can’t leave them connected to it for too long. Otherwise, it would overcharge the battery, damaging its cell life. 

Most trickle chargers only deliver 5 to 10 amps of electricity. That’s enough to recharge a dead battery in less than 12 hours. 

But, it isn’t going to jumpstart one quickly enough to make them useful in emergencies. 

You can get a battery maintainer to use in emergencies. These chargers have the same function as trickle chargers, and a little more. 

You can use them to charge your battery without having to monitor its progress. 

A well-designed maintainer keeps an eye on your battery’s charge while it’s connected. Once it’s at full capacity, it will turn off and let some of the current discharge. That’s going to prolong your battery’s lifespan.

Some maintainers let you select the amperage that is used while charging the battery. This lets you decide how quickly you’d like to charge it, which can be helpful in a rush. 

They’ve made maintainers that can produce up to 75 amps. That’s enough to charge your battery to full capacity in 2 or 3 hours if you start from zero. There’s only one problem with that, though. 

Charging a battery too fast can damage its cycle life. Overloading it by using excessive amps can shorten its useful lifespan.

So, you should only use high-amperage chargers if you’re trying to jumpstart the car. 

You can connect the charger to your car if it has a dead battery. 

Then, set it to the highest amperage possible. Let the charger work on your battery for about 15 minutes. After that long, you should be able to get the engine to start if you tried the ignition. 

Your alternator should start charging the battery once you’ve turned on the engine. So, you can disconnect the charge after getting the car to crank. It should be able to run without staying connected to it. 

How to Choose a Car Battery Charger

Choosing the right battery charger depends on your needs. Most of the time, you probably want to have one of them in case of an emergency. 

We’d suggest getting one that has a built-in battery, so you can use it anywhere. 

Getting one that has a built-in battery would mean you can jumpstart your car if it ever goes dead. You wouldn’t even have to flag anyone down to ask for help. You’d just take care of it all by using the portable charger by yourself. 

The largest consideration when shopping for a charger is its design.

Look for one that’s able to monitor your battery’s charge while it’s hooked up to it.

You won’t have to stick around while you’re charging the battery if it’s able to do that. 

You’ll also want to consider how many amps the charger can produce.

The more it’s able to generate, the faster it’ll charge your battery. Using too many amps can be damaging to your battery, though. 

So, you should only use as many as necessary to keep the battery charged. Maintaining its charge can prolong its lifespan as long as you keep it in certain parameters. 

What Size Battery Charger Do You Need?

A trickle charger usually delivers around 5 amps while it’s charging your battery. Most of them won’t let you change how many amps they produce, either. 

Battery maintainers can have a few settings that let you adjust the number of amps they’re using. Typically, they’ll have a setting that’s at 5 amps and one that’s at 10 amps. Some of them even have a 75 amp setting, to jumpstart dead cars. 

Can You Charge Batteries With a Different Brand Charger?

You can use any battery charger to charge your car’s battery. It doesn’t matter which company made it as long as it’s functional. All chargers use the same technology to charge your battery. 

They’ve got clamps you can hook up to the battery’s terminals, setting them in place. These deliver a positive and negative current, respectively. 

You’ll have to hook each of them up to the correct terming if you’d like to charge your battery. Once you’ve hooked them up to their terminals, you can turn it on. It should begin to charge the battery if you’ve hooked it up properly. 

How to Properly Charge Your Battery

Hooking up your battery is relatively straightforward. However, a lot of people don’t realize their damaging their battery when they charge it. 

They’ll use the highest possible amperage to get it over with as quickly as possible. 

Batteries have not been designed to charge at high amperage. So, sending too many of them through it can damage the battery’s internal components.

Use the lowest amperage possible when you’re charging it to preserve its lifespan. Every battery has a limited cycle life. That means you’re only able to recharge them so many times before they’re dead forever. 

Setting your charger to the lowest amp setting has the best results when you look at a battery’s lifespan. So, you shouldn’t use a charger on its highest setting unless you’re rushing out the door. 

Zach Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! Having owned a wide variety of vehicles in my life, I was astounded at how hard it can be to find answers to common automotive questions. Rather than sit idly, I decided to create this website to help others!