How to Change a Car Battery

Learn how to change a car battery safely with this step by step guide to replacing a car battery.

How to Change a Car Battery Safely

1. Connect a Memory Saver

To change a car battery without losing settings, you will need to connect a memory saver to your vehicle. If you skip this step, you will potentially have problems with your car running rough and not shifting normal. You will also lose your radio code so the radio will not work unless you put the code in.

Most memory saver devices consist of a small 9V battery and some alligator clips that you can clip to your battery cables. Some also plug into various ports on the inside of your car, like the cigarette lighter.

2. Disconnect Battery Cables

Before changing a car battery, you should always put on work gloves and safety goggles to protect yourself from any acid leaks.

Turn off your engine and remove the ignition key. Using an adjustable wrench, loosen the nut on the negative (black "-") terminal first. Once the nut comes off, pull on the end of the cable to detach it.

Repeat the same steps for the postive (red "+") terminal.

3. Remove Old Car Battery

There will be a hold down clamp or strap that secures the battery. You will need to loosen or unfasten it so that you can detach the battery from its tray. Slowly lift the battery straight up and out, taking care not to spill any acid in the process.

If you return your old battery and receipt to the shop where you bought it, you will receive a refund on your core deposit most of the time. The last battery I brought back netted me $9.00 - Besides the spare change, you'll also be doing your part for the environment as well.

Before buying a new battery, find out what is your vehicle's year, make, model and engine size. Sometimes you'll even need to know the trim level (for example, EX, LX, DX etc.) - Click here to find the right car battery for your vehicle make and model.

4. Clean Out Any Corrosion

Inspect the battery cables, battery tray and hold down clamps for corrosion and damage. Use contact cleaner with a wire brush to scrub all corroded areas. Baking soda mixed with water works too, but the results won't be as good as it evaporates slower and might leave residue.

After cleaning, it's highly recommended that you coat the battery terminals with an anti corrosion solution.

5. Install New Car Battery

A new car battery weighs around 40 pounds (18 kg) so be sure to ask for help if you have problems lifting it. Keeping the battery upright at all times, place it on the battery tray and secure with the hold down clamp or strap.

Connect and tighten the positive (red "+") terminal first. Next, do the same for negative (black "-") terminal.

Be sure the cables are tight and the battery is secured properly. Remove the memory saver. Start your car and check if your ignition and electronics are working well.

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