Car drivers are well aware of the fact that vehicle batteries have a mysterious ability to die at the most inconvenient times. Therefore, it is best to be prepared at all times. Learn how to change a car battery as it is an easy automotive repair and doesn’t require any special tools or skills.
Automotive batteries, like any other electronic appliances, have a limited lifespan. They don’t last forever.
There are multiple reasons for a battery to die or become flat; letting the car sit idle for a long period of time, leaving the headlights on while your car is turned off, parking in freezing temperatures, bad driving habits, aging, etc. Whatever the reason, a dead battery is bad news.
As car batteries are known to be highly corrosive, flammable, and heavy, drivers often opt to hire an experienced and trusted auto mechanic to perform the deed.
But I’ll let you in on a little secret: replacing a car battery is a safe, quick, and easy DIY job!
First of all, determine if you actually need a new battery.
Make Sure That Your Car Battery Needs to Be Changed
Replacing your old battery with a new one is a time-consuming task. You don’t want to waste your time and effort on something that is not required in the first place. Before you start with the installation process, make sure that the malfunctions in your car are being caused by a flat battery.
Sign 1: Sulfate Build-Up
Look for signs like sulfate build-up. When there is a faulty seal around the battery terminals and a subsequent acid leak, a bluish or white residue forms around them. Removing this residue can solve your battery problems. Make sure you wear protective gloves while doing so, as touching the residue with bare hands may cause skin irritation.
Sign 2: Failing to Recharge
Drive your car constantly for about half an hour and attempt to recharge it properly. As the electronic gadgets located in a car receive their power from the battery itself, do this step with minimal electrical usage. Finally, check the alternator with a voltmeter, and see if the correct charge that is being maintained.
Sign 3: Delay in Turning Over of the Engine
Check your engine cranking time. When the components inside a battery start aging, the battery takes additional time to develop a charge for the starter and, therefore, the turning over is delayed. Delay in the engine turning over is one of the prominent signs of a defective battery and is an indication that it needs to be replaced.
Sign 4: Low Fluid Level
Check the fluid level of your battery. It needs to be sufficient enough as this factor greatly determines the life of your battery. This is a relatively simple task to perform as the container is usually translucent and you can observe it with ease.
If the level is below the lead plates inside, then it is confirmed that your battery is living on borrowed time and you’ll soon need to change it with a new one. Once you’ve determined that your car battery needs to be changed, look for the perfect substitute.
Buy a Suitable Replacement Battery
1. Selecting a Battery
Step 1: Check the Power and Size Requirements of Your Battery. Each car has different battery-power and size requirements. Check the maintenance guide of your car and gather knowledge about the sort of battery that will work the best for your vehicle.
In case you don’t have access to the maintenance guide, consult a professional and let them assist you further. The correct battery will fit perfectly in your battery tray.
Step 2: Make Sure the Battery Is Suitable for Your Outdoor Temperatures. While selecting a battery, keep the outdoor temperatures in mind. Buy one that is appropriate for the weather conditions in your area.
The batteries that work well in hot temperatures are usually marked with an ‘S’ or ‘South’, whereas the cold temperature ones are often labeled with an ‘N’ or ‘North’.
Step 3: Purchase a Maintenance-Free Battery. Choose from batteries that either requires low maintenance or no maintenance at all to save you from the unnecessary hassle. Maintenance-free batteries are completely sealed and usually do not need any special care, except for a few, which only require some periodic water refill.
Step 4: Say No to Old Batteries. Purchasing old batteries is a definite no-no. Check the manufacturing date on the battery as stored batteries can lose their strength. Always purchase a car battery that isn’t older than six months. Reading the date codes is simple.
The first digit from the left of the code is a letter which stands for the month of the year; ‘A’ representing January, ‘B’ representing February, and so on. The following digit is the shipment year of the battery: 0 indicates 2010, 1 indicates 2011, and so on.
2. Purchasing the Battery
Decide if you’d like to purchase your car battery online or at an auto parts store. Online purchasing is not as transparent as shopping at a physical store and the added shipment costs can be heavy on your pockets. In addition, you might get a free installation service as a bonus at the store.
Now compare prices! Browse costs on the Internet or call various stores to get an estimated price for the battery of your choice. The staff at an auto parts store can help you in buying the battery that would fit your needs and fulfill the requirement of your vehicle.
Read my article on How Much Does A Car Battery Cost? to find out more about it!
Necessary Steps to Take Prior to Change Your Car Battery
Step 1: Park Your Car in a Safe Working Environment. Create a safe and secure working environment. If you are stranded on a road, make sure you park your vehicle on a flat, evenly leveled surface, away from sparks, busy traffic, or flames. Put the brakes on and do not light a cigarette or have open flames near your working area.
Step 2: Remove Any Accessories that are Good Conductors of Electricity. Any good conductors of electricity, such as body jewelry i.e. metal rings, watches, etc. should be removed and kept aside. They can trigger electric shock and cause extreme damage to your body.
Step 3: Take Other Body Safety Measures. The sulfuric acid electrolyte solution present in car batteries are capable of producing flammable hydrogen gas and can cause severe burn injuries to your skin. Put on safety hand gloves as well as safety goggles to prevent any particles from entering your eyes.
Step 4: Choose an Open-Air Space or a Well-Ventilated Area. The acid present in car batteries can release gases that are harmful and can be environmentally hazardous. To avoid inhaling any of those gases, working in an open-air space or a well-ventilated area is highly recommended.
Step 5: Connect a Memory Keeper. Before disconnecting the battery, connect a memory keeper into the car’s auxiliary power outlet. It will retain the PIN codes and settings from the various electronic devices in the car like radios and navigation systems.
In case you don’t have access to a memory keeper, make sure you take note of all the PIN codes for your appliances before starting with the actual process.
Note: According to experts, a memory keeper connects the circuits that are disconnected after a battery is removed. So they advise against using them, as this can out the system of your car at risk.
Step 6: Keep the Moisture Away. Water in even the slightest of quantity near open circuits and electronic devices can be catastrophic. It is essential that you keep your working space completely dry. In case of frequent rainfall in your area, find a well-ventilated indoor space to work in.
Removing the Old Battery
Step 1: Location of the Battery. Firstly, find out exactly where your car battery is located. Identifying a battery is easy; the rectangular shaped box with two cables attached to it is what you are looking for. It should be situated on any one side of the frame of your car where you can easily access it.
With some cars, the case is a little different. Sometimes the battery is located under the matting in the trunk, the rear seat, or inside the fender of the wheel. Once you’ve successfully located your battery, pop the hood open and if it doesn’t remain open automatically, give it support using a prop rod.
Step 2: The Positive and Negative Terminals. Now distinguish the positive terminal from the negative terminal. The positive one is usually red in color and has a plus (+) sign on it. The negative terminal, usually black has a minus (-) sign on it.
The disconnections need to take place in the specific given order. Otherwise, there are chances of your electrical system getting permanently damaged.
Firstly, using a wrench, detach the negative cable clamp of your battery and slide it off of the terminal.
Next, do the same with the positive terminal.
Disconnecting the negative terminal socket before the positive one is important for avoiding short-circuiting the positive terminal to the car’s grounded part.
Step 3: Disconnecting the Battery. Loosen the battery holder and unfasten any screws or bars that are holding your car battery in place. Now lift the battery out of the vehicle with extreme care. Remember, a car battery usually weighs a lot, if you think you aren’t up for the challenge, it’s always best to get some help.
If you would like to know more about this specific topic, then read this article!
Installing the New Battery
Things You’ll Need:
• Baking soda
• Lithium grease
• Toothbrush with stiff bristles
Step 1: Cleaning the Battery Tray and Terminal Clamps with Baking Soda. Take sufficient amount of baking soda in a small bowl and add some water to make a thick paste. Take a toothbrush with stiff bristles, dip it in the paste, and rub it on the battery tray and terminal clamps.
This step is only required: If there are visible signs of corrosion or rust in the form of white and green powder or reddish or yellowish-brown flaking coating of iron oxide.
Step 2: Install Your New Battery in the Empty Slot. Place your new car battery in the slot from where you removed the old one. Make sure you place it correctly by keeping the positive and negative terminals on their respective sides.
Step 3: Connect All Screws and Bars. Once your battery is in place, connect and tighten all the screws, bars or clamps that will be used to hold the battery in position.
Step 4: Reconnect the Positive and the Negative Terminal. Once again, keeping the specific order in mind, reconnect the positive terminal first and tighten the clamps with a wrench. Similarly, reconnect the negative terminal followed by tightening of the claps with a wrench.
Step 5: Take Measures to Prevent Corrosion. The lithium grease mentioned above is to be applied on the terminals to prevent corrosion. Pour the grease in a spray bottle so that you can spritz the required amount.
Step 6: Now That You’re Done, It’s Time for Closing. Close the hood of your car firmly and start your car. See that all the electronic gadgets are working without any errors. If you did use a memory keeper to save radio memory, remove it at this point and you’re done!