How to Change a Car Battery

Avoid getting stranded. Here's how to do a car battery replacement.

No matter how well you treat your vehicle, car batteries still wear out every few years and need to be replaced. It's just one of those regular maintenance items we deal with as car owners. Luckily, installing a new battery is a straightforward job, and one we'd recommend for all DIYers. Do it yourself in the garage Saturday morning, and have confidence that your vehicle will start Monday morning—and every morning, even in the coldest weather. Here's how to disconnect a car battery and install a new battery.

Pro Tip: When you're dealing with batteries always wear gloves and eye protection.


Photo of person changing a car battery.
Car Battery

What You'll Need for Changing a Car Battery

 

Difficulty

Good for beginners – A new DIYer will be able to complete the project

 

Estimated Time Required

1 hour

 

Step-by-Step Guide to Changing a Car Battery

 

Removing a Battery

Step 1: Check your vehicle owner's manual for the your car battery’s location. Identify the positive and negative posts and the respective cables attached to each. The positive post may have a red plastic cover over it and/or the cable attached to it will be red. There should also be a "+" symbol stamped or printed on the battery, next to the positive post.

Step 2: Using a wrench, loosen the nut or bolt that secures the negative terminal and cable to the negative battery post.

Caution: When changing a car battery, don't let any metal objects touch both battery posts simultaneously. Doing so could generate sparks and cause an explosion.

Step 3: Once you loosen the bolt or nut, first use the terminal puller to remove the cable and terminal from the negative battery post. Do the same with the positive terminal.

Step 4: Remove the clamp or retaining system holding the battery in place and set the parts and fasteners aside where to avoid spilling or misplacing them.

Step 5: Carefully lift the battery out without jostling it too much (be prepared, it is slightly heavy). If the posts are located on top of the battery, as opposed to on the side, you can use the battery carrying strap.

 

Installing a New Battery

Step 1: Examine the terminals attached to the ends of the battery cables to ensure they’re clean and corrosion-free. If they’re not, clean them using the terminal-cleaning tool.

Step 2: Position the battery so that the red, positive post will match up to the positive terminal and cable’s location.

Step 3: Insert the new battery. Then secure it with the clamp or retaining system removed earlier.

Step 4: Remove the plastic caps that cover the battery posts and install the anti-corrosion washers over them.

Step 5: Apply a thin layer of grease to the battery posts and terminals before connecting the positive terminal to the positive post first. Using the wrench, tighten the connector until it is snug. Then repeat for the negative post and terminal.

Step 6: Try to wiggle the battery. If it moves, tighten the clamp or retaining system.

You're finished installing a car battery! Take pride in a job well done and drive confidently, knowing that you won’t be stranded because of a dead battery. Once you're done changing your car battery, bring your old one to an Advance Auto Parts store for free battery recycling.