How to Change a Car Battery

Car battery light

Source | Andy Armstrong/Flickr

Avoid getting stranded. Here's how to replace your car battery.

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.

Vehicle System
Ignition, Charging, & Electrical Systems
Skill Level
Beginner

This is a good project for new DIYers

Time to Complete
1 hour
    Removing a car battery
    Warning

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

  1. Check your vehicle owner's manual for the your car battery’s location. Space under the hood is at a premium in many newer vehicles. Some batteries may be located in the trunk, under the floorboard or even tucked away out of sight behind a wheel well.

  2. 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.

    The positive post may have a red plastic cover
  3. Using a wrench, loosen the nut or bolt that secures the negative terminal and cable to the negative battery post.

    Negative Battery Terminal
  4. Caution

    Be careful not to allow any metal objects to touch both battery posts simultaneously, and don't let your wrench touch the positive terminal and the body or fender at the same time.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

    Remove the battery clamp or retaining system
  7. 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

    lift car battery out
  8. Installing a car battery
  9. 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. A special tool is available that fits over the post, with another brush that fits inside the clamp. Failing this, a stout wire brush can do the job. The cleaner your posts and clamps are, the better and more positive connection your battery will have.

    clean battery posts
  10. Position the battery so that the red, positive post will match up to the positive terminal and cable’s location.

    Positioning battery
  11. Insert the new battery. Then secure it with the clamp or retaining system removed earlier.

    Insert new battery
  12. securing car battery
  13. Remove the plastic caps that cover the battery posts and install the anti-corrosion washers over them.

    Install battery washers
  14. Apply a thin layer of grease to the battery posts and terminals before connecting the positive terminal to the positive post first. Special anti-corrosion grease is available to prevent deposits of fluffy greenish-white corrosion that can actually prevent the battery from charging. Failing that, ordinary Vaseline can work. Using the wrench, tighten the connector until it is snug. Then repeat for the negative post and terminal.

    anti-corrosion grease
  15. tighten connector with wrench
  16. 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.

     

  17. Recycle Your Car Battery

    Once you're done changing your car battery, bring your old one to an Advance Auto Parts store for free battery recycling.

Last updated October 20, 2017

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