On the average, car batteries have a lifespan of 5 years. Factors such as colder climates, add-on electrical accessories and frequent use, may shorten the life of the battery. Replacing batteries is an inevitable maintenance task for every vehicle owner. Learn how to change your car battery with this easy to follow guide.
Getting the Right Car Batteries
Make sure you get a new battery with the right dimensions and the correct ratings. This information should be available on the original battery labels or from your vehicle’s user manual.
Materials and Equipment
- New car battery
- Adjustable wrench or socket wrenches and pliers
- Protective gear (safety goggles or face shielding, gloves, coveralls)
- Plastic matting or rags
- Wire brush or steel wool
- Baking soda or a cola drink
- Always wear protective gear. Battery acid is highly corrosive and may cause serious injury to the skin and eyes. Have a bucket of water close for immediate washing of any affected area.
- Car batteries can weigh up to 60 pounds. Accidentally dropping that deadweight on your toes or on the car can be avoided by getting extra help.
- Make sure you work in a well-ventilated area. Also, the engine should be turned off and the parking brakes set.
- Keep flames, lighted cigarettes and sources of sparks away from the battery.
- Identify early the negative and positive cables and terminals of your battery. Attach labels to the connecting cables to help you in reconnecting them properly.
- With the hood of your car propped up, set up your work area. Place protective matting or rags in a perimeter around the battery. Keep your materials and tools nearby for easy access.
- First, disconnect the connecting cable on the negative terminal (marked by a minus sign or coloured black). Using an appropriate wrench or pliers, loosen the bolt on the connecting leads. Then detach the cable with a twisting upward pull. Alternatively, you might need the screwdriver or similar lever to pry off the cable clamps.
- Then, in the same manner remove the cable on the positive terminal (marked by a plus sign or usually coloured red).
- Detach the battery tray clamp. Some holding trays just use spring clips. Others are bolted down which will require the use of a wrench or screwdriver.
- Carefully (preferably with someone’s assistance) lift and remove the battery from the car.
- Clean the cable clamps using some cola or baking soda and water to remove any sulphuric deposits. Be careful not to get in contact with the powdery deposits. Scrub the clamps clean and wash them down. Be sure the clamps are completely dry before proceeding.
- Afterwards, take the new battery and carefully position it accordingly (positive to positive, negative to negative). Make sure it sits properly on the holding tray.
- Reattach the holding tray clamp. Ensure that the battery will not move about on its tray as excessive vibrations can damage the battery.
- Reconnect the cables, positive cable to the positive terminal first, then afterwards the negative cable to the negative terminal. Ensure the cable clamps are fastened securely and will not twist about.
- Finishing up, remove your materials, tools and matting and close the hood. Start the car and check that all electrical items (lights, radio, etc.) are functioning properly.
Old and used batteries are considered hazardous materials. Dispose of them properly through battery recycling facilities. Your local battery supplier should also be able to accept used batteries for trading or disposal.