If your car had a heart, it would be the battery. It’s safe to say if you have a dead battery, your car isn’t going anywhere. While this can be a major nuisance, the solution is pretty simple. Changing your car battery can come at a cost if you’re not prepared. First, you have to get a tow truck to move your car from whatever situation you’re in (we hope it’s not in the middle of nowhere). Then the trip to the auto shop to get your new battery and the labor cost of having someone change the faulty battery. Skip all the nonsense with this step-by-step guide on how to change a car battery.
NOTE: Even if a battery is dead, never let a metal object touch both the negative (black)(-) and positive (red)(+) posts on the battery at the same time. This is extremely dangerous as it can create a current that can spark or even explode the car.
How to Replace a Car Battery
Park Your Vehicle
- Make sure to put the car in park, and the emergency brake is up.
- If you’re parked on an incline, put a rock block behind your vehicle’s tires to make sure it doesn’t roll down.
Pop Open the Hood
- Turn the engine off and pop open the car’s hood.
- Wait a few minutes to ensure the engine and other car parts are cool enough for you to start.
Locate the Battery
- No matter the make and model of your car, the battery is generally located under the hood.
- Depending on the make of the car, part or all of the battery may be covered. Remove the cover if necessary.
- If you have difficulty locating the battery, consult your owner’s manual.
Identify Positive and Negative Ends
- Car batteries, like AA batteries, have positive and negative posts.
- The positive (+) end is identifiable by the standard red plastic cover (or connected to red wires), while the negative (-) end has black markings.
Disconnect the Negative (Black) Cable
- Use a wrench to release the nut on the negative end of the battery.
- Disconnect the negative cable from the battery.
NOTE: If the battery is difficult to remove, use a battery terminal puller. Do not use any means to try to move the cable as it may cause damage.
Disconnect the Positive (red) Cable
- Detach the positive cable from the battery.
NOTE: Always remove the negative (black) cable first, then move on to the positive cable.
Remove the Battery
- Detach the fastener and clamps holding down the battery. There may be more than a few.
- Set them aside and remove the battery from its base.
NOTE: Don’t misplace any pieces! Keep them somewhere safe.
Be cautious when removing the battery; they can be heavy. If the battery has a handle, you can use that. If not, try to avoid jostling the battery when carrying it.
Clean the Battery Connectors
- Using a wire brush and a battery cleaning solution or a combination of baking soda and water, clean the battery base and the connector wires.
- Make sure everything is completely dry.
- Do not install the new battery if wet parts are remaining.
Put in the New Battery
- Put the new battery in the tray, aligning the positive (+) and negative (-) ends of the battery with the corresponding terminals and cables.
- Re-install the clamps the same way you removed them to secure the battery.
Apply Anti-Corrosion Solution
- Detach the red and black plastic covers on the ends of your new battery.
- Prepare your new battery by spraying both of the car’s terminal ends with an anti-corrosion solution.
Connect the Cables to the Battery
- Attach the positive (+) cable first to the positive battery post and seal with a wrench.
- Do the same on the negative (-) side.
NOTE: Always connect the positive end first.
Make Sure Everything Is Screwed in Tight
- Make sure the connections on both ends are secure by trying to move the battery around.
- If it shifts a little, recheck the clamps and the tightness of the cables.
- If the battery was covered initially, put its cover back the way you found it.
- Let the hood down, and try to start the car.
Don’t Throw Away the Used Battery
Car batteries have specific disposal requirements, so don’t just put them in your trash bin. Instead, bring it to the proper location for recycling. You may also take it to a Chemical Collection Center for safe disposal.
If you don’t have access to the right tools or budget to get out of the situation, here are some hacks to make your life easier.
- If your battery dies and you don’t have the replacement one yet and can’t get one, remove the battery’s top carefully. Drop 2 tablets of aspirin into the battery; the active ingredient will provide enough chemical response to provide one last spark. Make it count!
- Cold weather is a battery killer. Before wintertime, to protect against it, remove the battery terminals, clean, and smear them with petroleum jelly. This will shield it against corrosion and help maintain spark during the colder months.