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The Smart Way to Charge Your Car Battery: Tips for Doing It Right While on the Road

On this page, you’ll find a short video outlining some tips for charging your car battery by driving.

A flat battery is a pain, no doubt, and it always happens when you can least afford to be late. This page is dedicated to helping you get back rolling as quickly as possible.

Mechanics Battery Charging Tips

Jumpstarting saved my ass so many times. I remember returning to the long-term car park in the very early hours with a weary family in tow; we were greeted with a click…click…click.

A generous fellow traveler happily gave me a boost start; I was very grateful. And very glad I had good jumpers in the trunk, and that’s my first top tip.

Jump starting sequence

Connect boosters in order 1, 2, 3, and 4. Start the vehicle and remove jumpers in reverse order 4, 3, 2, and 1.

This video covers the boost starting process.

Top tips for boost starting and battery charging by driving:

  • Have top-quality boost cables in the trunk; alternatively, buy NOCO jump pack.
  • Check the battery terminals are clean and tight (common cause of no starts).
  • Connect jumper cables and allow the donor vehicle to idle for 5 minutes before attempting to start.
  • Turn all flat vehicles consumers off – lights, heater, seat heaters, radio, etc.
  • To charge battery, drive at a constant speed (highway best) for at least fifteen minutes with consumers off.

Flat Battery Causes

Batteries hate cold weather, they don’t like really hot weather either, and so that’s the most likely time for them to fail. Always best to have your battery checked with every scheduled maintenance shop visit. Modern cars are very sensitive to battery issues, so much so that many are fitted with battery control modules to help optimize their performance.

The battery modules are smart enough to indicate a battery fault, but it’s often too late to prevent a no-start event.

So what causes a flat battery?

There are many causes of a flat battery; most are preventable.

  • Loose battery terminals
  • Dirty battery terminals
  • Consumer left on (light etc.)
  • Age-related battery failure (5-7 years typical)
  • Battery drain (electrical circuit, electrical component, or accessory fault)

Testing your battery regularly is the best defense. I’ve listed an inexpensive battery tester below. The Topdon (traffic light system) is easy to use and includes features like the alternator and crack test. I reviewed it here “Best battery tester for home use.”

Checking battery terminals are clean and tight is important and easy to do; adding a little cleaner and lube will help protect them from corrosion.

Consider removing accessories that may not be professionally fitted, such as lights, aftermarket audio, or trackers, some of which may use the OBD port as a power source. Accessories are a common cause of electrical system drain.


The Topdon is a very capable and inexpensive battery tester. I covered battery testing using the Topdon battery tester, and you can check that out here “Best battery tester for home use.” Picture links to

The NOCO genius battery charger is what’s known as a smart charger, also known as a battery maintainer or trickle charger. They are smart because they detect the battery state of charge and automatically turn it off and on as needed. Picture links to

The NOCO jump starter pack is a serious tool, don’t let its size fool you. This little guy fights way above its weight. Capable of starting a diesel truck engine and yet small enough to fit in your glove box. Picture links to

Schumacher OBD-L Memory Saver or KAM tool. Important to fit the memory tool before disconnecting the battery. Modern cars don’t like being without power. The Schumacher is easy to use with its 3 steps guided procedure. Picture links to

Proudly made in the USA, this anti-corrosive oil-based paste for battery terminals will prevent corrosion which is a very common cause of poor starts and premature battery failure.

Battery post and terminal cleaner. Dirty terminals are a root cause of a ton of electrical issues. Stainless steel cone wire brush side for terminal cleaning and internal brush for the battery posts. Suits top and side post batteries

About the Author

John Cunningham is a Red Seal Qualified automotive technician with over twenty-five years of experience in the field. When he’s not writing about car repair, you’ll find him in his happy place – restoring classic cars.

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