Project Guide

How to Change a Car Battery

Put the Vehicle in Park
  • 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.
Pop the Hood
  • Turn engine off and pop open the vehicle’s hood. 
  • Make sure the engine and any nearby car parts are cool enough that you can safely work in that area.
Find the Battery
  • 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.
Identify Positive and Negative Battery Ends
  • 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.
Detach the Black/Negative (-) Cable
  • 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
  • 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 Battery
  • 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.

Clean the Battery Connectors
  • 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.
Insert the New Battery
  • 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.
Apply Anti-Corrosion Solution
  • 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 Cables To The Battery
  • 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. 

Double-Check the Connection
  • 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. 
Recycle the Used Battery

Car batteries have very specific disposal requirements, so to make sure you're following local laws, bring it into The Home Depot for recycling.