It can happen to anyone at any time. You go to start your car only to find that the battery is dead. It’s annoying whenever it happens, though the worst is discovering your car won’t turn over in the rain.
Chances are there isn’t an auto parts store close by. You don’t want to wait for a tow or pay the fees that come with it. Hopefully, you have a portable car battery charger or at least jumper cables so you can recharge the battery.
While recharging the battery will probably get you moving again, there is the question of whether or not it’s safe in the rain.
Car batteries are low voltage so your risk of an electrical shock is minimal, even in wet weather. However, there are a few steps you should take to make sure you can safely recharge the battery.
How to Safely Charge a Car Battery in the Rain
Even though you have a very small risk of being shocked charging a car battery in wet conditions, there are still other safety considerations. Here are a few things you should do to prevent any injuries to yourself or damage to your car.
Pull to the side of the road
If the battery suddenly dies when you’re in the middle of a lane, try to push or let your vehicle roll to the side of the road. Better yet, if possible try to coast into a parking lot. The main idea is to not block the road. Even stalled vehicles during the day can be difficult for other drivers to see.
Shut the engine off before opening the hood
You always want to turn the engine off when you’re recharging the battery, no matter the weather. Even though, it is low voltage it can still give you a painful jolt. Before you start charging, you also want to make sure that the hood is secure. You don’t want it slamming down on the portable charger or jumper cables. Even worse, it could fall down on your head or neck if it is not latched firmly when it’s up.
Keep a tarp in your vehicle
Before you connect the cables to the battery, you want to cover the hood. This is why you need a waterproof tarp. You can drape it , tent style, over the hood to prevent rainwater from getting on the battery. This is another way to prevent accidental shocks.
Connect the cables
This is the most important step, properly connecting the cables to the battery terminals. It’s actually pretty easy, even if it’s your first time charging a battery. The red cable connects to the positive terminal on the battery, while the black one is for the negative terminal. Positive and negative are clearly marked on the battery.
Another reason to make sure the engine is turned off, there could be an electrical shock if the wrong cables are connected.
Turn the engine on
Once the cables are connected, wait a couple of minutes for the dead battery to charge. After a few minutes, try and start the engine. If it doesn’t start right away, let it charge for a few more minutes then try starting it again.
After five minutes or so if the battery still isn’t taking a charge, it is dead and time for a new one.
Portable Charger vs Jumper Cables
Many drivers are choosing to leave their jumper cables behind and rely solely on a portable battery charger. There are several advantages to having a portable charger, the main one being that you don’t need another vehicle to recharge the battery.
Portable chargers are also safer to use on a car battery. There is less of a chance of too much power going to the battery, which could ruin it. Portable chargers are easy to use and you can find models at an affordable price.
It might seem like portable chargers completely replace traditional jumper cables, but it is still a good idea to keep a set in your vehicle. There have been instances where the portable charger isn’t able to charge the battery. This can be caused by a number of reasons, however you still have a battery that needs to be charged.
This is when your old jumper cables come in handy. Chances are you will be able to find a passing motorist that is willing to stop and help. It’s always advisable to have jumper cables as a backup.
How to Know if Your Car Battery if Low
The best way to prevent getting stuck due to a dead car battery is to know when it’s running low.
Here are a few signs that could indicate your battery is running low.
Engine is slow to turn over
If it’s taking longer than usual for the engine to start or it sounds sluggish when turning over, this is a classic sign that your battery is running low. You can try to recharge it, but chances are it needs to be replaced. Your local automotive parts store should have a tester so you can check the battery’s power level.
Battery light is on
Most cars have an indicator light that comes on when the battery is running low on power. When you see it, start making plans to pick up a replacement battery.
Check battery fluid level
Some car batteries have a clear band around the casing. This allows you to keep an eye on the fluid. When it starts to run low, you know that it is only a matter of time before it won’t have enough power to start the engine.
Battery case is swollen
Excess heat can shorten the life of a vehicle’s battery. One of the signs to watch for is a swollen or misshapen case.
Over time a battery can start to leak. You might not notice any liquid, but there will probably be a smell. If the odor smells like rotten eggs, you are catching a whiff of Sulphur. It can corrode the negative and positive terminals on the battery, making it difficult for a charge to go through. You’ll have to clean the corrosion off before you can start the car.
This is something that you’ll want to keep an eye on, and start looking for another battery.
Battery is old
You might’ve heard that batteries recharge when your driving, and this is true to some degree. Over time though, it won’t matter how long you drive. Your battery still isn’t able to hold a charge.
Like everything else, batteries get old and need to be replaced. The standard replacement time is every three years, but this does vary.
Keeping Your Battery Charged
You can do a few things to help prolong your battery’s life and keep it fully charged.
- Do not leave devices plugged in when the vehicle is turned off. This will drain battery power, so will leaving an interior light on. Faulty electrical wiring or components can also drain your battery and shorten its’ life.
- If you usually only take short trips you are putting unnecessary wear and tear on the battery. Driving only for 20 minutes or so drains your battery, without giving it a chance to recharge. Once the power is low enough, you’ll start having trouble starting the vehicle.
- Hot and cold temperatures will take a toll on a battery. Heat more so than freezing temperatures. If you live where temperatures can be extreme, pay close attention to your battery.
Safely Charge Your Battery
Just by following a few simple steps you can safely charge your car battery in the rain. Even better is knowing the warnings signs that power might be running low. This way your vehicle will always start, regardless of the weather.