Changing a Car Battery – Even if you do all that you are supposed to do in terms of maintenance and regular servicing, your car batteries will still at one time get depleted.
So if you observe that your headlights are dimming, or you had to jump start your car battery because it died, or you’ve had your battery for more than three years, then it is very likely that you have to get yourself another one.
If you want to do this by yourself and you don’t know how to, then you are definitely on the right page. What we are going to be looking at in this write up is how to change your car battery and by the time you are done reading, you will see that it is not difficult.
How to Change Car Battery Yourself – Step by Step
Taking out the bad battery
Park your car on a level surface
The first thing you have to do is to find a good place to change the battery. Your car has to be parked on a level surface and in a secure area. If possible, do not change your car battery on the side of the road.
Like we said earlier, it has to be in a safe and secure area, away from water, sparks, open flames or traffic as these elements could lead to unpleasant occurrences. A good place could be your garage or driveway.
If you decide to change the battery in your garage, you have to ensure that the garage door is open so that the space can be well ventilated.
So you have found the proper place to change the battery and you have parked your car, what next do you do? You have to turn off your car, and take away the key from the ignition. This is just to be sure that there is no power going to the battery.
Also bear it in mind that when you disconnect the battery, some settings such as your radio, alarm, navigation and clock setting will be reset.
It is therefore advised that you are aware of your alarm code before you start the disconnection. You can always check your owner’s manual if you have forgotten it.
Wear the appropriate safety gear and open your hood
Remember that safety cannot be overemphasized, so do not think that we are over flogging the issue. Parking the car in a level and safe area is not all that is required, you also have to put on the appropriate safety gear to avoid injuries on your person.
In case you are not aware, car batteries come with a sulfuric acid electrolyte solution and this is very corrosive. If you do not take care, it can give out flammable hydrogen gas and can burn your skin.
Protect yourself by putting on the right safety gear which include safety goggles and insulated work gloves.
You are now ready for business so go ahead and pop your hood and if required, hold it up with a rod.
Another thing that we have to point out for your safety is that you shouldn’t do this while wearing any metal jewelry such as rings or a watch. This is so that you don’t get electric shock as a result of this.
You also know that this task of changing your battery will mean that you will get some dirt and grease on you. Yeah, it is best that you wear old clothes so that you won’t get disturbed when stains get on them.
Find out where the battery is placed
The battery is the star of the show and you can’t commence replacing it if you do not know where it is placed in the car. So you have to find where the battery is located. Some cars have their battery placed under the hood while others have theirs in the trunk.
What you are looking for is a rectangular battery box with 2 cables attached to it. Sometimes, especially with newer cars, the battery will be covered by a plastic cover so you have to look properly, and when you discover that that is the case, you can remove the cover to properly access the battery.
If you are not able to pinpoint exactly where the battery is located, you can check your owner’s manual.
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Remove the negative cable first and hold it in place with a cable tie
When you have found the battery, the best way to go about it is to disconnect the negative cable first before removing the positive cable. The reason for this is to avoid electrical shorts.
To tell which of the cables on the battery is the negative one, it is normally black in color and would likely have a minus sign (-) sign near it.
If there is a plastic cover on the battery, take it away and then disconnect the negative cable clamp with a wrench and take the cable off the terminal.
When you have done this, proceed to secure the negative cable to the engine bay using a cable tie. The reason for this is so that the cable does not touch anything metal.
The sizes of the wrench that can be used to remove the cables differ and the one to use highly depends on the size of car. They include a 7-mm, 8-mm, 10-mm, or 13-mm wrench. But the good news is that if your battery terminals are fitted with quick-release clamps then there will not be any need for the wrench in removing the cables.
Remove the positive cable next and also secure it using a cable tie
The same thing that you did with the negative cable, you also have to do with the positive cable. Now as the negative cable is usually black the positive cable is normally red and would usually have a plus sign (+) near it.
Again if there is a plastic cover over your battery , take it away and use a wrench to loosen the positive cable clamp before sliding the cable from the terminal. Remember to secure it to the engine bay with a cable tie or clamp.
You may wonder why you have to secure the cables separately to the engine bay after removing them. The reason for this is that if the positive and negative cables come in contact with each other, it can result in serious electrical short.
This will also be the case if they come in contact with anything that is made of metal. So you see that you have to be very careful so that you don’t cause further complications.
Take out the battery from the car
After you have disconnected the cables, the next thing is to remove the battery from the car. Before doing this, check the bracket that is holding the battery in place and take away any connectors that will prevent you from lifting the battery from the car.
At this point, you will need a socket wrench and an extension bar. When you are done taking away the fasteners and the connectors, you can then remove the battery from the engine bay.
Please bear it in mind that this battery may be weighing over 20 pounds and that is about 9.1 kg. If you can’t lift it all by yourself please ask for help to avoid injuring yourself.
Putting in the New Battery
Out with the old and in with the new they say. Now you have successfully taken away the old battery, you can have a small victory dance and give yourself a little pat on the back if you so wish, but there is still work ahead and that is installing the new battery. But have no fear, as we will walk you through it just as we did with taking away the old battery.
Clean the battery terminals
You have to clean the battery terminals and remove dirt, grime, debris or corrosion that might be on it. This may be in form of powdery buildup that may have different colors such as white, blue, green, or gray.
Whatever color it appears as, you have to clean up the battery terminals till they are clear before you proceed. To achieve this, you can make use of 100-grit sandpaper or an emery cloth.
While doing the cleaning, please bear it in mind that the battery acid is corrosive. We have already talked about this but we are bringing it up again because safety is paramount.
As much as possible, avoid it coming in contact with your skin or clothes and this is why it is important that you put on your safety gear before you embark on this task.
Purchase the appropriate replacement battery
You have to be very careful with this part. It will not be a good feeling for you to discover that you spent time and money purchasing the wrong type of battery for your car, or that you got a particular type of battery when you could have had a better option.
If you can take a picture of the old battery then you should do that. If that option is not possible, you can write down important details regarding the battery. The vital information that you should write down include the size, dimensions, and part number of the battery.
With this information, you can go to an auto parts store for your battery. Apart from this, you should also tell the person attending to you in the store the make, year, model as well as the engine size of your car. This is so that you can be given the best battery choice for your car.
Car batteries come in different size and have different electrical capacity, so be careful with the choice that you make. If you purchase the wrong size of battery, it will not sit well in the space that was meant for it in the car and you will have to make another trip to the auto parts store.
Why not save yourself the stress and make sure that you go with all the information required so you get the right one for your car type.
For those who live in the U.S., you can take the old battery with you to the auto parts store where you want to purchase the new battery as some will allow you trade it and give you some discount for the new battery.
If your auto parts store does not offer this service, another option is to take it to a service or recycling center so that it can be properly disposed of.
It is not advised that you throw the old battery away as you would your normal trash because it contains corrosive material that can prove quite harmful.
RELATED: How To Put A Car in Neutral With a Dead Battery
Place the new battery in the space meant for it and apply grease to the terminals
Now place the new battery in the bracket, making sure that it is positioned the same way the old one was positioned and secure it to the bracket. Just retrace the steps you took to take the old battery away and that should take care of that.
When you have done that, apply a thin layer of lithium grease to each of the terminals so as to avoid corrosion. Please be careful to not apply the lithium grease on other parts of the engine block that is not the positive and negative terminals of the battery.
Ensure that all the fasteners and connectors on the bracket are secure so the battery is held in place properly and it doesn’t move around or shake when you are driving.
Reattach the positive cable first
Loosen the cable tie holding the positive cable to the engine bay and be sure to not touch metal with it, then put it over the terminal and tighten it with a wrench. If your battery has a cover for the terminal then now is the time to put it back on.
You may ask but we disconnected the negative cable first? Yes but for installing the new battery, the first one you should reconnect is the positive terminal so as not to mistakenly complete the electrical circuit before time.
Reattach the negative cable
Still take the same steps you took to attach the positive cable to the positive terminal, and get the negative cable reconnected to the negative terminal.
Remember not to allow the negative cable touch anything metal as it can result in electrical discharge. Do not also forget to tighten the clamp properly with a wrench. Remember to put back the plastic cover for the battery if your car has one.
Close the hood and start your vehicle
And you are done! Now you can do your complete victory dance and pat yourself on the back real good.
All that is left for you to do is to ensure that you have taken away all the tools that you used from under the hood and then shut it.
If indeed bad battery was the reason why your car was having power problems, then it has been properly handled and your car should pick up and start running well.
You should also check and reset all your settings that is your radio, clock and navigation and see to it that all other electronic devices are intact. Also put in the alarm code if required.