How to Change A Car Battery

Changing your car battery doesn’t have to be difficult. And don’t forget, the most important step in changing your car battery is the first one—choosing the right battery for your car.

Examine the battery

Before you buy a new battery, take a good look at the old one. It should list the following numbers on the label:

  • Battery group (the size of the battery)
  • Reserve capacity (how long the battery can run the car if your alternator fails)
  • Cold-cranking amps (how well the battery performs in cold weather)

Just write down these numbers (or check your owner’s manual if you can’t find them on the battery), and purchase a new battery with the same stats. If you can’t find either, ask your mechanic or automotive center expert which battery is right for your car’s make, model and year.

You may want to consider a battery that’s the same size but has a larger reserve capacity and higher cold-cranking amps if you live in a cold climate. Not sure if you need the extra power? Ask your mechanic or automotive center expert what battery will work best in your region.

Before you start

Is your old battery covered in corrosion? Clean it off before you replace it using a mixture of baking soda and water and a brush. Be sure to wear gloves, so you don’t touch the corrosion with your bare hands.

Unmount the old battery

Using a wrench, loosen and remove the mount that holds the negative battery cable onto the battery. It’s best to wear gloves, and never let the wrench touch any other metal part of the vehicle. The negative cable is connected to the negative terminal of the battery. Look for the minus sign where the cable connects to the battery. Once the negative cable is removed, do the same thing on the positive side. The positive terminal has a plus sign for easy identification.

Before you take the battery out of your car, note how it’s placed. Then, put the new battery in the car in the same position, with positive and negative terminals facing the proper direction.

Remove the battery

Some batteries are held in place by a metal bar or a strip. If so, remove the nuts or bolts that connect the bar to the car frame. Now, you’re ready to pull out the battery.

If you’ve already bought a new battery for the car, you know how heavy they are; use caution when taking out the old battery. Lift it with a smooth pulling motion.

Install the new battery

Put the new battery into the car facing in the same direction as the old battery. Hook up the positive terminal first. Don’t touch any other metal part of the car with your wrench as you tighten the connection. Once the positive terminal is connected, hook up the negative terminal, and replace the metal bar or strip holding the battery in place, if your car has one.

Start the car

After you’ve installed the new battery, start your car to make sure the battery works and that you’ve tightened the connections properly. If your car doesn’t start, tighten or reconnect the battery cables. Then, start the car again.

Recycle

Old batteries should be recycled. If your mechanic doesn’t take car batteries, ask if there is a recycling center nearby that can.

Click here for our printable, step-by-step instructions on how to change a car battery.

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