Background Image: Car driving through streaming orange lights - side view
April 2, 2023

Recharge vs replace: Making the right decision for your car battery

Your car won’t start, and you suspect it’s because of a flat battery.

It's a dilemma that most car owners will face at one point or another. But it doesn't necessarily mean your battery is completely depleted and needs replacing. There could still be some charge left, but just not enough to start the engine. If this is the case, recharging the battery may be all you need to do to get back on the road.

When a car battery can be recharged

If a car battery is merely discharged, which may happen when it hasn’t been used for three months or longer, or if your headlights are left on, it’s usually possible to restore it to its full capacity.

Tell-tale signs that a car battery requires recharging include when the Open Circuit Voltage (OCV) falls below 12.5V, the engine struggles to crank over, the headlights are weak and lack power and the State of Charge (S.O.C.) indicator shows black.

In general, if your car battery is low on charge but still has some power left, it's recommended to recharge it using a compatible charger.

Another option is to jump-start your battery if you don’t have a suitable charger or need to start your car quickly. For more information, see our guide to jump-starting a car battery.

If you're unsure about whether to charge or jump-start your car battery, it's always best to consult with a professional mechanic.

How to recharge your car battery

Before recharging your battery

Start by reading the owner's manual and safety instructions. This will ensure that you understand the correct procedures and safety precautions to take when charging your battery.

It’s also important to check the battery’s condition. A damaged or leaking battery should not be charged.

Recharging your battery

Using a compatible charger, connect the positive charger lead to the positive battery terminal. After that’s done, connect the negative charger lead to the negative battery terminal.

Next, set the charging rate to the rate specified by the battery manufacturer and turn the charger on. Never touch the charger leads when the charger is on.

Monitor the charging process to ensure that the battery does not overheat or overcharge. Refer to your battery’s specifications in the owner’s manual to determine when it’s fully charged, and once it is, turn the charger off.

Only after the charger is off can the leads be disconnected from the battery terminals, starting with the negative lead first.

When a car battery needs replacing

While car batteries can sometimes be recharged, they have a limited lifespan and will eventually need to be replaced.

The longevity of your battery can be impacted by factors such as frequency of use, level of maintenance and exposure to extreme temperatures.

If your battery is physically damaged or leaking, has discharged to a significantly low level and you’re unable to recharge it or is at the end of its life, it will need to be replaced.

If you’re replacing a battery yourself, please refer to your vehicle owner’s manual, check that you’re using a suitable replacement battery and ensure you adhere to all of the safety and handling recommendations, including those covered in our battery manual.

Head to a retailer to recharge or replace your car battery

If you need a hand recharging or replacing your car battery, visit a Delkor® retailer near you. They can provide you with expert advice and assistance to ensure that your battery is charged or replaced correctly and safely.