How To Change A Car Battery

To avoid getting stranded in the middle of the road, it is necessary to learn how to change a car battery. Regardless of how great you take care of your vehicle, its battery still will wear out after a few years.

There are many signs that state you need a battery replacement. One of the sign is dim headlights and another is when the battery light comes on.

How to change a car battery.
How to change a car battery.
Credit: mvsottawa.com

In such a case, then, you have two options: either replace the battery yourself or have a reliable auto mechanic do so. If you choose to change it yourself, this guide is for you.

You need a few tools to complete this easy and quick job, which include:

  • 10mm 3/8-Drive Socket or wrench for loosening the 10mm nuts and bolts
  • Adjustable pliers for holding the bolt-heads in place
  • A hammer to loosen any stubborn terminal cable
  • 8” 3/8” extension, 3/8 drive ratchet and 13mm socket
  • A brush for cleaning the terminals
  • Di-electric Tune-up Grease to prevent future corrosion
  • Sturdy goggles and safety gloves for protecting your eyes and hands

How To Change A Car Battery Step-by-Step

Step One: Check if you need to replace the battery

1. Evaluate if you require a new battery

Though your battery light might come on, the problem might not be in the battery itself.
So do the following:

Check if there’s some sulfate around the battery terminal. If you notice some, remove and check whether that changes anything.

Check whether the car battery has been recharged. To do so, drive continuously at least for half an hour.

Finally, check whether the alternator has a voltage of 13.8 to 14.2 volts. Every battery has 12.4 to 12.8 volts when the engine is switched off, and without any accessory connected.

2. Purchase the right battery

To help you know the battery you want to replace, you can check the old one. Take its dimensions along with your vehicle’s engine size, model and make. Provide these details to an auto parts store in your local area.

Step Two: Prior to the battery removal

1. Before you take out the battery, ensure the environment is safe

Select a level, flat surface to park your car. The location should not have open blazes, sparks or traffic.

The parking brake should be on. Avoid smoking and inform others not to do the same near the area you are working in.

Ensure you wear some safety gloves as well as googles. Batteries have a highly corrosive liquid that can burn your naked skin.

2. Disconnect your car’s cigarette lighter

Remove your vehicle’s cigarette lighter and connect the memory keeper in that socket. The memory keeper has a CMOS (Complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor).

This ensures the settings and PIN codes for navigation systems and radios aren’t deleted once you take out the battery.

Alternatively, if you barely have this memory keeper, write down every PIN for your devices prior to removing the old battery.

Read your car’s manual to see what electronics can be affected when you remove car a battery.

3. Open your car hood and secure it with a prop

Step Three: Disconnect the old battery

1. Identify the battery

When you open the hood and see one rectangular box that has 2 cables fixed to it, then that is the battery.

Some batteries are located underneath the matting such as the ones in some European vehicles.

Others have batteries situated underneath the rear seat. Some are in the wheel’s fender – the most challenging battery to disconnect.

2. Identify the battery terminals

A battery has two terminals: the negative as well as the positive. The negative terminal has a minus (-) sign (mostly black), while the positive one has a plus (+) sign (mostly red).

3. Start by disconnecting the negative terminal

Use a wrench to disconnect that negative terminal first. Label the cables if not marked – to avoid mixing them.

Essentially, you should loosen the socket on the negative terminal prior to the positive one.

The part that is grounded might short-circuit the + terminal if you don’t follow this rule.

4. Loosen the outer terminal, which is the positive one

5. Now take out the battery

Loosen any battery holder, remove the bars, screw, and clamps that were securing the car battery. Be careful when you lift the battery.

A battery weighs around 30 to 60 pounds. That weight is not light at all for anyone with back problems.

Step Four: Fix the new car battery

1. Wash the battery tray and terminal clamps

Mix baking soda and water to clean using a wire or toothbrush. Repair any corroded cable or terminal end. Once clean, allow the area to dry before you fix the new battery.

2. Now, connect the battery

When the area is dry, you can now connect the battery in the same location you removed the old one.

Fix the negative and positive terminals on their respective sides. Likewise, fix the bars, clamps, and screws to secure the car battery.

3. Use a wrench to tighten the positive terminal

4. Similarly, use the same wrench to tighten the negative terminal

5. Use some lithium grease on the two terminals to avoid corrosion.

6. Shut down the car hood securely

Switch on your car and see if every electronic device works. Disconnect the memory saver – if you have installed one.

Step Five: Get rid of the old car battery

Take the old battery to a recycling centre, automotive supply store or service garage. Do not throw the battery as you normally do to your kitchen trash.

Some battery retailers in the U.S usually ask for a deposit on the new battery. The best thing here is that you’ll get a refund of the same once you take the old battery to them.

More so, these car batteries have hazardous materials, environmentally toxic and nasty chemicals. Hence, throwing them in the trash will expose the environment as well as the entire community to these possible hazards.

FAQs

1. Which battery terminal to disconnect first?

Disconnect the negative terminal first, then the positive.

2. Which battery terminal to connect first?

Connect the positive terminal first.

3. How long will it take to change a car battery?

Changing a car battery takes 30 to 45 minutes. But an expert can take around 10 to 20 min; inclusive of paperwork.

4. How much does a vehicle battery replacement cost?

A typical battery replacement costs around $50 to $120 whilst a premium one go as low as $90 and as high as $200.

5. How to change a car battery without losing settings?

Disconnect the cigarette lighter in your car and connect a memory keeper. This will store the settings and PIN codes for navigation systems and radios.

6. How to change a car battery without getting shocked

Loosen the negative terminal socket first to avoid being shocked.

7. What is the average life of a car battery?

On average, a car battery can last between 3 to 5 years. Though how long a battery lasts depends on a few factors such as the weather.

8. How many miles should a car battery last?

Ideally, a car battery can last for 30,000 to 50,000 miles before you make a replacement.

9. How to remove a stuck battery terminal

Sprinkle some baking soda on the stuck terminal. Use a special brush to scrub the posts and terminals.

Use clean water to rinse and a clean rag/towel to dry. Apply petroleum jelly or grease on the terminals to avoid corrosion.

10. How to clean battery terminals?

Mix some water and baking soda to clean battery terminals using a wire brush.