How to Change a Car Battery

Lead Image
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 60-100
What You'll Need
Battery pliers
Baking soda solution/battery cleaning solution
Wrench kit

For a lot of car owners, it doesn’t feel like there’s a lot you can do yourself. It usually best to let a professional change your oil, check your tires, and troubleshoot whatever unusual noises or vibrations may occur. However, there are some repairs and maintenance tasks you can and should do yourself. One of them is changing your battery. You can do this yourself because removing the battery is pretty simple. However, you still have to be cautious because it is a vital part of the car and can be dangerous. So, keep children away and make sure anything electrical is away from near the car when you start this procedure.

Step 1 – Prepare the Work Space

Make sure that the car is completely off and has been off for at least two minutes before you begin. It is recommended that you have battery pliers on hand to help remove the cables from the battery. Also, a wrench is needed so that you can unscrew the hold down clamps for the leads.

Pop the hood and locate the battery. It is a heavy rectangular object with two cables coming out of the top. Before proceeding with these instructions, check the label on the battery because it may tell you the best procedure for removal for that specific type.

Then, check to see if any battery acid has leaked around the cables or anywhere around the battery. If there is visible leakage or corrosion, do not touch it, but clean it with either a battery cleaning solution or with a solution of baking soda and water. Once it is free of leakage and corrosion, you can take the next step.

Step 2 – Detach the Battery

When detaching the battery, you must start with the negative battery cable, which should be black. The cables are easy to detach, especially with the cable pliers. If you use the pliers, there shouldn’t be any ripping or tearing of the cables, which is important because you need to reuse the cables for the new battery.

Then take off the positive cables, which are red. Most batteries use this color-coded system to keep people safe, but double check your battery before performing this operation to make sure that you are doing it correctly.

Some cables come with clamps over the top of the cables, for that you need to use a wrench to loosen them. You will know this has been done right when nothing on the battery is touching something in the car except for the bottom.

Step 3 – Remove the Old Battery

Once you’re sure all the cables have been detached, check to see if there is a stand underneath the battery that also may need to be loosened. This is so that you can safely pull the battery out of the car.

Step 4 – Clean the Work Area

Once you’ve pulled the battery out, check and make sure everything is clean in the empty area and surrounding space before putting in the new battery. Use the baking soda solution on any areas where there is corrosion.

Step 5 – Place the New Battery

Place the new battery in the empty spot. Make sure everything looks exactly the same as when the previous battery was there. If anything is in the wrong spot, you could end up with a highly dangerous situation.

Step 6 – Reattach the Cables

Attach the red positive cables, and then attach the black cables. If the clamps need to be screwed down, be sure you tighten appropriately. Make sure not to strip the clamps when you put them back in. If there is any movement in the clamps, the battery will not work. You can then use a volt meter to check and make sure that the battery is working properly.