How to Change a Car Battery

One of the most important components in your car is the battery. You probably don’t think about it much but without it, you would not be able to drive anywhere. Today, we will discuss the most efficient way on how to change a car battery.

Batteries are pretty reliable but they don’t last forever and need to be replaced periodically.

How to Change a Car Battery

Fortunately, batteries will give you warning signs that they are about to fail. As long as you watch for the warning signs you will avoid being caught with a dead battery.

If you suspect that the battery is failing, you have 2 options. Bring it to a shop and pay someone to replace it or change it yourself. If you choose to do it yourself, this article will show you step by step how to do it easily and safely.

What is a car battery, when do I need to change it?

Simply put, a battery sources the electrical energy to supply power to a device. All cars, no matter if they are a gas-electric Hybrid, conventional gas engine or all-electric use a lead-acid battery to power the accessories.

For this reason alone, it is important to understand the warning signs that your battery may be on the decline. They include the following:

  • The engine turns over slowly.
  • A check engine light is illuminated.
  • The front headlights are dim.
  • The car backfires.
  • The battery is over 3 years old.

If you are able to gain access to the battery then you can visually check the battery for signs that it may be failing. They include the following:

  • Measure the voltage with a multi-meter (12V or less indicates a potential problem).
  • The fluid level is low in one or more of the battery cells.
  • The battery case looks bloated.
  • The battery is leaking.

Can I change my car battery?

Anyone who has moderate mechanical skills can change a car battery. It is a very straight-forward project that is easily completed in 1 hour or less.

In most cases, the battery will be located in the engine compartment. If you do not see it there, you will need to refer to your user manual to find the exact location.

Do I need any special tools to change my car battery?

This project will require a few tools that you may need to purchase. Not all are required but it’s strongly recommended that you have them available in order to do the job right. They include the following:

  • Wrenches and pliers to loosen/tighten the nut on the battery terminals.
  • Battery puller strap to lift the battery out of the car (some batteries have a handle so check first).
  • Battery terminal puller tool to remove the terminal from the battery post (optional).
  • Battery terminal and post-cleaning tool which will remove any excessive corrosion and allow clean contact.
  • Battery terminal and post grease to help prevent corrosion.
  • The memory saver will keep all of the car’s programming while the battery is being replaced (optional).

Step by steps guide on how to change a car battery

Now that you have all of your tools, you will need to identify and purchase the actual replacement battery. This is a fairly easy process since most auto parts stores have an online tool that you can use.

Simply enter your car’s information and the exact replacement battery will be displayed. Once you have your new fully charged battery in hand, you can change the battery by following these steps:

Removal of old battery

  1. Park the car on level ground or better yet perform this project in your garage.
  2. Remove the keys from the ignition to ensure that there is no chance that the car is on.
  3. Open the hood and locate the battery.
  4. It is a good idea to use some sort of plastic tray to hold your tools while you work.
  5. CAUTION: Be very careful to avoid any type of spark as battery acid fumes are very flammable.
  6. NOTE: Before disconnecting the battery, connect the memory saver device (if you have one).
  7. IMPORTANT FIRST STEP: locate the NEGATIVE terminal and remove it from the battery post.
  8. Once the negative terminal is completely disconnected you can disconnect the POSITIVE terminal.
  9. The positive terminal usually has a protective cover that is hinged for easy access to the terminal.
  10. Now remove the bracket that holds the battery in the tray.
  11. If the battery has a handle attached, use it to pull out the battery. If no handle you should use your battery puller strap to lift out the battery and move it away from the work area.
  12. Check the battery cables to make sure they are clean and do not show signs of corrosion. If they look bad then this is the time to replace them.
  13. Clean the terminals with the terminal and post-cleaning tool.

Installation of new battery

  1. Install the battery in the same orientation as the old battery (positive & negative terminals).
  2. If the new battery has colored caps on the posts, leave them in place for now.
  3. Replace the bracket on the battery and secure it to the tray.
  4. Remove the positive cap, clean the post and attach the POSITIVE terminal to the battery.
  5. Remove the negative cap, clean the post and attach the NEGATIVE terminal to the battery.
  6. Apply a coating of the post grease to both terminals to prevent corrosion.
  7. Disconnect the memory saver tool (if you had one).
  8. If all went well, the car should start right up.

Old battery disposal

Lead-acid batteries are toxic and need to be disposed of properly. In most cases, the store where you bought the battery will take care of it for you. If not, then locate the nearest battery recycling center and dispose of it there.

PLEASE do not throw the battery into a landfill.

Final Words

I told you that this was an easy project and if you follow the steps above you will be successful.

In rare cases, a battery replacement may not resolve all of your problems. There is always the possibility that another component in the electrical system is the real cause of the problems.

If, after you replace the battery, your car still exhibits a warning sign, it would be a good idea to perform a diagnostic check. The good news is that most auto parts stores will perform this test for free with the purchase of a battery.

How long do your car batteries last?

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