How to Replace Your Car Battery


It happens to every car owner at some point. You go outside, get in your car and turn the key only to hear that dreaded 'click' ... and nothing else. You try it again, because that's what people do, only to hear another 'click' ... and silence. The battery is dead. Don't panic. Simply take a cab or have your neighbor drive you to the nearest auto parts store to buy a new battery and replace your battery yourself. Here are the answers to questions you may have about how to replace your own car battery safely.

1

How do I disconnect a dead battery in my car?

Turn the ignition to the off position and remove the key. Pull the hood-release handle which is usually located to the left below the steering wheel. Feel under the front edge of the hood for the latch, release it and lift the hood. Pull the hood support rod up and hook it into the hood support slot on the hood. The rod is usually located along the side of the engine compartment or the front above the grille. Put on protective gloves and eyeglasses. Locate the battery. It is generally on the right at the front of the engine compartment. Loosen the nut on the clamp that is connected to the negative (black) terminal with a battery wrench, battery nut pliers or a small wrench that will fit on the nut. Lift the cable up off the battery and push the clamp over to one side. If the cable will not lift off easily, use a battery terminal puller. They are relatively easy to use. Just push the puller down over the terminal until the jaws hit the terminal below the cable clamp then twist the center screw on the puller until it pulls the cable clamp up off the terminal. Do the same with the positive (red) cable clamp. Caution: There are newer cars that must be plugged into a 12-volt battery source through the OBD port before the battery is disconnected. Consult your owner's manual or check with the dealer where you bought your car to find out if you need to take any special precautions before removing the battery cables.

2

How do you get a dead battery out of a car?

Remove the cable clamps, negative (black) first then the positive (red) one. Push them to the side out of the way. Release the hold-down clamp that holds the battery in place. Place one hand on either side of the battery and lift it straight up from the bottom. You can also use the handle to lift the battery, if it has one, or use a special battery lifter. A battery lifter is basically a handle that grips the sides of the battery so that you can lift it. Car batteries are heavy. Determine where you are going to set the battery before you lift it up so you can quickly set it back down. Wear heavy protective gloves to protect your hands when handling a car battery.

3

Is there cleaning solution to clean the battery cable clamps?

There is a battery cleaner spray that can be used, but you can also use baking soda and water. One or the other should be used to clean the battery cable clamps every time you get a new battery to ensure a good connection. Get some baking soda, a cup of water and a glass or metal bowl. Put rubber gloves on to protect your hands. Hold the battery cable clamps in the bowl, sprinkle baking soda over the clamps then pour the water over them. The baking soda will bubble. Let it bubble for a few minutes then brush the baking soda off the clamps with a toothbrush or wire brush. Be sure to brush the inside surface of the clamps, too. Rinse the cable clamps with clear water. Clean the battery tray and hold-down clamp in the same way. You can spray the baking soda off with a hose if you prefer. Let them dry completely before installing the new battery. Battery cleaner spray can also be used to clean the cable clamps. Spray the battery cleaner on the cable clamps, battery tray, and hold-down clamp. Some battery cleaner sprays turn a certain color if there is acid on the clamps. The color should fade as the acid is neutralized. Leave the spray on them for several minutes then rinse it off.

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4

Which battery cable clamp do I put on first when installing a new car battery?

Secure the battery on the battery tray with the hold-down clamp before attaching the cables. Coat the battery terminals with battery terminal protectant or petroleum jelly to prevent corrosion and improve the connection. Attach the positive cable clamp first then the negative clamp. Tighten the nuts securely on the clamps with battery nut pliers, a small wrench or a battery wrench. Tug gently on the cables to make sure the clamps are secure. Take the dead battery to a recycling center or return it to the auto parts store that sold you the new battery. Set the battery in a cardboard box or place a plastic bag or metal tray beneath the battery to protect the carpet in your car.

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