How to Change a Car Battery
Time Required: Under 2 hours
Your car's battery is its heart - when you have a dead battery, your car isn't going to run. While this can be a major inconvenience, there is a simple solution. Avoid tow truck costs and a trip to the auto repair shop with this step-by-step guide on how to change a car battery.
Safety: Even if you think a battery is completely dead, never let any metal object touch both the black/negative (-) and red/positive (+) posts on the battery at the same time. This is very dangerous as it creates a current that can spark, heat or even explode.
- Make sure the car is in park and the emergency brake is engaged.
- If you’re parked on an incline, place a wedge or wooden block behind your vehicle’s tires to ensure it stays secure.
- Depending upon the make and model of your vehicle, the battery may be located under the hood, in the trunk, or elsewhere.
- Part or all of the battery may be covered, which you will need to remove.
- If you have a hard time locating the battery, consult your owner’s manual.
- Car batteries, like regular AA batteries, have positive and negative ends.
- The positive (+) end is identified with a red plastic cover or connected to red wires, while the negative (-) end will have black markings.
- Use a wrench to loosen the nut on the black/negative (-) end of the battery.
- Detach the black/negative (-) cable from the battery.
Tip: If the battery is hard to remove, you can use a battery terminal puller. Do not use any tools to try to pry up the cable as it may cause damage.
Safety: Never allow a metal object to touch both ends of the battery.
- Detach the red/positive (+) cable from the batery.
Safety: Always remove the negative cable first, then the positive cable. When you connect the battery, connect the positive end first. So the order is: Remove black, remove red, attach red, attach black.
- Remove the clamp holding down the battery. There may be several clamps, so inspect the outside of the battery carefully.
- Set the clamps and fasteners aside and remove the battery from its tray.
Tip: Use a bowl or magnetized plate to collect all the loose pieces as you are removing a car battery. This will prevent them from falling into the car.
Safety: Be careful when you remove the battery – they can be heavy (between 40 and 60 pounds). Keep your hands steady to avoid jostling the battery or spilling acid from the battery. If the battery has a handle, you can use that.
- Use a wire brush with a battery cleaning solution or a mixture of baking soda and water to clean the battery tray and connector wires.
- Dry everything completely.
- Do not install a car battery if there are any wet parts remaining.
- Place the new battery in the battery tray, aligning the red/positive (+) and black/negative (-) ends of the battery with the matching terminals and cables.
- Re-install the clamp(s) the same way you removed them in order to secure battery.
- Remove the red and black plastic covers on the ends of your new battery.
- Prepare your new battery for use by installing anti-corrosion washers on both battery posts or spraying both of the car’s terminal ends with anti-corrosion solution.
- Attach the red/positive (+) cable to the red/positive (+) battery post and tighten with a wrench.
- Do the same on the black/negative (-) side.
Safety: Always remove the negative cable first, then the positive cable. When you connect the battery, connect the positive end first. Here is the order: Remove black, remove red, attach red, attach black.
- Ensure that the connections on both end are secure by trying to move the battery around.
- If it shifts at all, check all the clamps and check the tightness of the cables.
- If the battery was originally covered, reinstall its cover the way it was removed.
- Close the hood and start the car.