How To Change Your Car Battery

June 19, 2019

If you have been using jumper cables on your car for far too long and find that they do not work any longer, it might be time to switch out your old battery for a new one.  Car batteries have a way of dying at the most inopportune moments. (How to help avoid that here.)

It might be a freezing night, you may have stepped out during a downpour, or maybe on your way to a critical meeting. If your battery dies out in situations such as these, it can be extremely inconvenient and frustrating. This is why it is a good idea to make sure that your battery is in good condition at all times.

Check Whether Replacement Is Needed

Before you decide to replace the battery, determine whether this is the only solution or whether a good cleaning is all it needs. However, if your battery is entirely dead, you’ll be wanting to make a replacement so you can get back on the road. Doing the job yourself is something that will save you time and money - why be overcharged at a repair shop when you can follow some steps and DIY the project?

There are certain things you will need to keep in mind for handling the replacement process at home. Here we will take a look at the steps you will need to follow in order to replace your car battery.

1. Locating Your Car’s Battery

To begin the process of checking the battery, it helps to know where it’s located in your vehicle. This can vary depending on the car you’re driving - the easiest way to determine this if you’re not sure is to consult your owner’s manual. You can also do a quick model search online using your VIN to find out.

For most cars, a battery is located under the hood at the front to the right or left of the engine. If yours isn’t under the hood, it could be in your trunk, mounted in a wheel well, or in the case of a car with a middle or rear engine, in the luggage compartment at the front of the vehicle.

2. How To Disconnect A Car Battery

Disconnecting the battery is the most dangerous aspect of the replacement process.  Any type of corrosion in the battery or even tiny cracks can result in acid leaks which can scald your skin.  Even when the car’s ignition is switched off, the battery can produce an electrical charge, if the terminals are connected. It’s necessary for you to be careful while disconnecting the car battery.  Follow these steps:

  • Start by loosening the nuts on the board that holds the terminal cable to the batteries positive post.
  • Use pliers or a wrench to turn the nuts carefully in a counterclockwise direction.
  • Now, use another wrench or pliers to hold the bolt head in position.
  • Once it is loose, slide the end clamp away from its post.
    • Note: while doing so, make sure that you place all the tools and the tool tray on the ground, to prevent any kind of electrical charge from being sparked.
  • Once you have disconnected the cable from the negative terminal post, follow the same steps while disconnecting the positive terminal.
How To Change A Car Battery
This Video By Details The Cautions And Steps To Take When Removing Your Car Battery.

3. How To Remove A Car Battery

Once both the terminals have been disconnected, loosen the plate that holds your battery in its seat.

  • In most cars, the nut is of the same size as the ones that you find in the terminal cable clamps.  If there is a wingnut, you can unscrew it by hand.
  • Once the nut is loose, remove the battery carefully.
  • Keep in mind that it can be quite heavy and make sure that you lift with your knees.
  • Most batteries have a handle attached which enables easy carrying. Use the handle to lift the battery and keep it on the ground.
    • Important: If you find that there is corrosion in the handle area, lift the battery very carefully by the sides, making sure that there is no acid spillage.

With the battery at a safe distance from the car, use the battery terminal brush to clean any sulfate from inside the cable end clamps. Inspect the cables for signs of corrosion. If you find they are corroded, purchase replacement cables at a reliable auto parts store.

Spray some corrosion-protection spray on the cable end clamps. This will protect the battery from corrosion and deposits.

4. How To Install A Car Battery

  • Make sure that the terminals attached to the battery cable ends are corrosion-free and clean.
  • If they aren't, clean them carefully with a terminal cleaning tool.  This tool fits over the post and also has a brush that fits inside the clamps.
  • Alternatively, use a stout wire brush to clean the terminals.  The cleaner the clamps and post, the stronger the battery connection will be.
  • Now position the battery so that the positive (red) post matches up with the positive terminal and the location of the cable.
  • Insert your new battery and secure it with the retaining system or clamp that you had removed earlier.

5. How To Connect A Car Battery

  • If the battery posts have caps, remove them and apply some anti-corrosion spray on top of them.
  • Apply a bit of grease to the terminals as well as the battery before you connect the positive terminal to the coordinating positive post.
  • Use anti-corrosion grease that helps prevent the greenish white corrosion buildup from forming on the post.  If you do not have that handy, use Vaseline instead.
  • Repeat these steps for the negative terminal and post.
  • Try to move the battery. If it shifts, tighten the retaining system or the clamp.

The installation of the car battery is complete.

Recycling Your Car Battery

Once you have replaced the car battery by yourself, it’s recommended that you take the old battery to a recycling facility or a vehicle service garage. Make sure that you do not tip the battery as that can result in spillage of the harmful chemicals.

As mentioned at the start, do not always assume that your vehicle problems are being caused by a dead battery. Sometimes the underlying problem could be a faulty motor or alternator. It’s always a good idea to run a diagnostic test to ensure that the battery is the root of the issue.

You can find battery replacements and associated parts for sale here on our website - as well as alternators and engine parts, if the issue lies elsewhere.