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How Long Should You Charge a Dead Car Battery?

Published Tue April 10, 2018


Few things are more frustrating than getting into your car only to find that the engine won’t start. Often, the problem is as simple as a dead battery. Although this is obviously inconvenient, you can always attempt to jump start the car in order to revive the dead battery. This is assuming you have jumper cables, another vehicle with a working engine and some basic knowledge of how battery recharges work.

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If you’ve never jumped a dead battery before, you may have a few questions. For example: How long does it take to charge the battery? How long should you give it before trying to power the engine and get back on the road—and at what point do you throw in the towel and admit that there might be a deeper issue with the car engine?


Jumping a Dead Battery: Birdseye View


To start the process of re-charging the battery,  you’ll first need to get the good car and the bad car as close together as possible. Then, you’ll attach the red/positive cable to the battery terminal in the good car and then to the dead one. You’ll also do the same with the black/negative cable.

Now here is where you’ll want to time things. Turn on the engine in the good car and wait two minutes. Then turn on the bad/dead one and wait an additional two minutes. From there you’ll remove the cable in the reverse order at which you put them on, and you’ll let the car run for two more minutes before you get back on the road.


What if That Doesn’t Work?


So what happens if that doesn’t work? If that’s the case, there may be something else wrong with your vehicle.


Some possibilities for this scenario include:


  • The terminals on your car battery may be corroded and in need of a deep cleaning.
  • Your battery may simply be very old, and beyond the point at which it can be repaired—in which case, of course, it will need to be replaced.
  • There may be a problem elsewhere in the engine—with the alternator, a blown starter, or something else.

Obviously, there are times when a battery recharge is not only possible, but fairly straightforward. So long as you know what you are doing, it shouldn’t take but a few minutes to recharge the dead battery. But if you are still unsure about the process, you may want to request help as it can be dangerous.

If the problem turns out to be something more serious than a dead battery, you’ll want to take your car to your local Meineke Car Care Center, where the problem can be diagnosed and repaired as quickly as possible.


If you can’t start your vehicle, read our step-by-step guide with pictures on how to jump-start a car battery, it may be helpful!