How to Change a Car Battery as Efficiently as Possible
Changing a car battery can be a real challenge, mainly because car batteries tend to die at some of the most inconvenient moments. Nevertheless, most drivers will not have to replace their battery more than 2-3 times throughout the life cycle of their vehicles. On the chance that your car will require a replacement sometime soon, you have to be prepared. To start, it is essential to keep in mind some of the hints that might tip you off when your battery needs a replacement. Dimming headlights, slow cranking, the need for a jump start, and the increasing difficulty of getting your car to start can all be signs that a battery is going to fail and will need to be replaced soon.
How to Make Sure the Battery Needs to Be Changed
Knowing how to change a car battery is an essential skill, but not always a required one. In some cases, you might be dealing with a false alarm, and it could turn out that the battery doesn’t require changing at all. In other words, other things (like a failing alternator) could be causing the problem. To find out whether you need a new battery or not, try driving for 30 minutes straight, so the battery will have a chance to recharge completely, then check the alternator using a voltmeter. A voltage between 13.8 V and 14.2 V will indicate that the battery does not need replacing. Also, it can be a good idea to check for white or bluish sulfate residue around the battery’s terminals, which can be enough to prevent a battery from charging or delivering a charge.
Purchasing the Right Replacement Battery
So, you determined that a replacement is needed. First, you have to purchase the right type and size of car battery before you can move forward. For this purpose, you will need the measurements of your old battery and some basic information about the placement of the terminals and the battery’s mounting type. You can either find that information yourself by looking up the BCI group number of the battery, or you can simply measure the battery, and take the measurements with you along with information about your car’s make, model and year to your local auto components store.
Required Steps Before Changing the Battery
Figuring out how to change a car battery is not too difficult. Nevertheless, before you start, there are a few absolutely essential steps that have to be taken for preparation purposes. If you can’t just work in your garage, find a secluded, flat spot where you can park your vehicle safely, and get to work. Put on the parking brake, extinguish all cigarettes in the vicinity, and check your owner’s manual to find out what devices might be affected when you remove the battery.
Remove the Old Battery
Now you can start by removing the old battery. Changing a car battery is easy with a few basic pointers. First, you have to remove the negative cable from the battery’s negative terminal by loosening the cable clamp with a wrench. The negative terminal will be indicated with a minus sign. This is essential, since removing the positive cable first could result in a dangerous short circuit. Do NOT let the wrench come in contact with the positive terminal! The next step is to remove the positive connector, then unfasten the battery holder, and loosen any of the screws that might be holding the battery in place. There’s typically a holddown bracket that goes across the top of the battery, or clamps at either end of the battery to hold it in place. Be careful when lifting the battery, since it can weigh up to 60 lbs.
Installing the Newly Purchased Car Battery
Before replacing your battery, it’s important to clean the clamps that are used to connect the terminals. The clamps might have been affected by corrosion, so a baking soda solution could be necessary. There are battery terminal cleaning tools available, with a skinny wire brush to clean the inside of the clamps and another wire brush that fits over the terminals. The new battery has to fit in precisely the same way the old one did, and once you are sure that the positive and negative terminals are on the correct side, you should be able to find the places where all the screws should fit. Coat the clamps and posts with anti-corrosion grease, or Vaseline (in a pinch). Connect all the screws and bars, then begin by reconnecting the positive terminal before the negative one. After tightening the clamps, you should be all set, and changing a car battery will never again be a problem.