DIY Repairs: Change Your Car’s Battery

by Joe Ferguson on November 20, 2013

change-car-battery

With winter well on its way, the editors at Used Car Values want to make sure that you have the ability to keep your car running like a pro. Changing a car’s battery is a good introductory project, and knowing this valuable skill will come in handy throughout your driving life. So get your tools and auto parts together, head out to the garage, and let’s learn how to change your car’s battery.

Tools

Here’s a quick look at the tools and auto parts you’ll need for a successful battery-changing project. Don’t have the parts you need yet? Your local salvage yard is a great place to find new and used auto parts that will work for just about any automotive project.

• Battery (probably could have guessed that one, huh?)

• Wrench

• Socket set

• Multimeter

• Screwdriver

Keep it Clean

Before you take your battery out and start to replace it – clean it up! Make certain that the battery’s terminals aren’t corroded by scrubbing them down with baking soda, water, and a little elbow grease. This keeps the corrosion at bay and ensures a strong, healthy connection to your car. Sometimes thoroughly cleaning your battery will be what it needs to work properly, and you’ll be able to avoid replacing it altogether.

Removal Process

• To avoid electric shock, make sure your car keys aren’t in the ignition

• Carefully loosen the bolt that holds the terminal cable to the negative post

• Once loose, set down your tools (let’s not get shocked), and slide the end clamp from the negative post

• Repeat with positive terminal cable

• Be cautious: just because the car is turned off doesn’t mean that there’s not electrical current potentially alive and well in your old battery

• Remove any plate that may be holding your battery in place

• Before picking up the old battery and setting it aside, check for any cracks that might leak battery acid all over your hands or car

• If the old battery is free of cracks – pull it out and set it aside

• Once the battery is out of the way, clean the terminals again to wipe away any grime or corrosion that could have formed during removal

Installation Process

• Place the battery (with colored terminal caps still on) in the space that was occupied by your old one

• Start attaching the battery in the reverse order you removed its dead brethren

• Tighten the bolt that holds the positive terminal cable to the positive post

• Tighten the bolt that holds the negative terminal cable to the negative post

• Refasten any plate or support that holds the battery in its seat

• Sit in your driver’s seat, take a deep breath, and turn the key

• If your car starts, drive it to the ice cream shop for a celebratory sundae – you deserve it!

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