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How to Change Your Car Battery

November 9, 2023

man removing a car battery from a vehicle to replace it with another

Do you know how to replace a car battery? No sweat if you’ve never done it before! We’ll make it simple for you.

This is one of the easier projects you’ll take on, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it the right way to avoid damage to your vehicle and to keep yourself safe. 

Let’s start with the essentials.

Tools You’ll Need

  • New battery that works for your vehicle make and model.
  • Safety gloves and goggles — we want you to learn how to change a car battery safely.
  • Socket wrench — we recommend having several socket sizes available. 
  • Cleaning towels.
  • Carbon wire brush or similar cleaning tool.
  • Battery terminal puller (optional).

Once you’ve gathered your supplies, you’re ready to roll. 

1. Switch Off The Car 

Alright, so you’ve got yourself a shiny new battery. First things first, you’ll need to make sure the car is off so you can safely work on replacing the battery.

Just to be safe, wait for a few minutes after turning off the car before you start working on it. This allows any residual electrical energy to dissipate and reduces the risk of shock or injury during the battery replacement. Also… the car is typically hot after usage so let’s not burn ourselves.

2. Pop the Hood and Identify the Terminals on the Battery

Pop the hood and track down the battery. In some foreign cars, you might find the battery hanging out in the trunk. If you’re having a hard time tracking it down, the owner’s manual is your go-to guide.

Safety first! Make sure the engine has cooled down enough for you to work around. O otherwise it’s going to be blazing hot. 

Now, let’s identify the battery terminals. The positive terminal is typically distinguished by a red cover and connects to the battery post marked with a plus sign. The negative terminal is associated with the post marked with a minus sign. 

3. Disconnect the Terminals

When you’re swapping out a car battery, remember this golden rule: start by taking off the negative terminal first. Here’s how to do it like a pro:

  • Reach for a socket wrench. Use it to gently loosen the nut on the black or negative terminal. Most ratchet and socket sets include a socket size that fits the bolt of a battery terminal.
  • Once that nut’s loose, carefully remove the negative terminal from the battery.
  • Next up is the positive terminal. It’s a rinse-and-repeat deal; follow the same process as with the negative terminal.

4. Remove the Old Battery

First, check if any clamps are holding the battery in place. If needed, grab a socket extension to loosen them. Sometimes, there could be a few clamps, so give the battery’s exterior a good look.

Now, put on some gloves, set those clamps and fasteners aside, and gently lift the battery from its spot. Some batteries do have battery acid just sitting on top of them, the gloves will help. Also, don’t forget the safety glasses! They’ll keep your eyes safe from any potential battery acid splashes. 

These batteries can be quite the workout, weighing around 40 to 60 pounds. It doesn’t sound like a lot now, but just wait till you try lifting it out of the car.

If the battery has a handle, use it for an easier lift. If the battery’s giving you a hard time, a battery terminal puller will do the trick. 

Avoid using regular tools to pry up the cables — this could cause serious damage — and whatever you do, keep metal objects far away from both ends of the battery.

For good organization, grab a bowl or a magnetized plate. It’ll help you keep track of all those little parts and pieces you took off during the battery swap, preventing any accidental drops or losses inside your ride.

5. Clean the Battery Terminals

Alright, we’ve got a quick detour to keep things in tip-top shape. Corrosion is nothing but trouble, and you don’t want to leave it behind — eventually, you’ll have to deal with it. If you spot some greenish gunk on those terminals, that’s your cue.

Grab yourself a wire brush and mix up a solution of good ol’ baking soda and water. Then, get to work cleaning the battery tray and those terminals. Make sure everything’s bone-dry before you move on.

A golden rule — don’t install a car battery if you spot any damp spots.

6. Install the New Battery

Before we get that shiny new battery in place, remove those red and black plastic covers from the ends of the battery posts on your new replacement battery.

Next up, pop on anti-corrosion washers onto both battery posts. Then, give the car’s terminal ends a good spritz with some anti-corrosion solution or coat them up with a corrosion-resistant gel. This helps keep things running smoothly.

It’s time to slot that fresh battery into the battery tray. Make sure the positive and negative ends of the battery match up with their corresponding terminals. 

Finally, re-install the clamp(s) the same way you took them off. This is how we keep that battery securely in place.

7. Attach the Terminals to the Battery

It’s time to bring it home and fire up that engine. 

Connect the positive terminal to the positive battery post, and give it a good tightening using your wrench.

Repeat the process with the negative terminal, connecting it to the negative battery post.

Now, give the battery a little jiggle to ensure those connections are locked in tight. If the battery budges, take a quick peek at all the clamps and cables to make sure they’re snug.

Boom! That’s all there is to it. Make sure to take your old battery in to be recycled. Most auto part shops will take it off your hands.

Turn Your Passion Into a Career

Wish more maintenance was as easy as a battery replacement? Learning how to change a car battery is just the tip of the iceberg at WyoTech. Rev up your future with our automotive trade programs! 

Each program is tailored for a fast track to success, allowing you to complete your training at lightning speed compared to other schools. Dive deep into your chosen field with expert technicians who’ll guide you through the inner workings of vehicles, ensuring you grasp every detail.

Start your career path today.