How to Change Your Car Battery

Jeep with an open hood

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Imagine this — you head outside after a long day at work only to discover your battery is dead. All of your co-workers have left, and now you’re stranded. Your battery can die for plenty of reasons. Even a new one will give out if you leave your headlights on.

Follow the steps below to change your car battery with minimum hassle.

Collect Your Tools

For most cars, you’ll need a handful of tools to change the battery, including:

  • Dialectric grease
  • A Combination wrench
  • A battery terminal brush

You may need a couple of extra tools if you’ve got a weird model, such as a Dodge Stratus. In this car, manufacturers hid the battery behind the bumper on the driver’s side. To access it, you must jack up the car, remove the driver-side wheel and remove the fender skirt. From there, you can unbolt the battery and cables.

Buy a Replacement

Now it’s time to buy a replacement battery. You can find one at a parts store, dealership or a local big box store. In addition to the price of the battery, the store will also charge you a core fee.

The core fee encourages people to recycle old batteries. Get your money back by bringing the dead one back once you’re finished.

Loosen the Terminals

Now that you have a new battery, it’s time to get your hands dirty. Loosen the nut from the bolt that connects the negative terminal cable to the battery. The negative terminal is typically black with a minus sign on it. Some batteries also have quick release clamps, which don’t require tools to remove.

Once lose, place your tools on the ground or in a Styrofoam tray to prevent a spark. Then, slide the end clamp from the terminal. Follow the same steps to remove the positive cable next.

Unfasten the Plate

Now that both terminals are loose, you can unfasten the plate that holds your battery in place. You’ll likely see the same size nuts as the one on the cable clamps. You might also find a wing nut you can unscrew with your hands. Once free, it’s time to remove the battery. Remember, batteries are heavy. Lift with your knees to prevent injuring your back.

Most batteries have an attached handle for easy carrying. Lift straight, then place it next to your feet on the ground. If the part looks corroded, be careful of acid spilling out as it moves.

Install in Reverse Order

Now it’s time to install your new battery. Follow the four steps above in reverse order. Start by fastening the plate, then attach the cables. Start with the positive terminal, then the negative. Once everything is connected, turn over the engine and make sure it purrs.

Does it sound like music to your ears? If so, close the hood, and you’re ready to go.

When to Call for Help

It’s easy to replace a battery when you’re at home in the garage. Yet it’s tough when you get stranded on the side of the road. Call for help if you can’t start your car, or you don’t have the necessary tools.

It’s smart to invest in a roadside assistance program that has your back in times of need. These organizations offer a range of services, from a jump to get home to a battery replacement.

Change Your Car Battery — A Simple Guide

If you have what you need, changing your car’s battery is easy a pie. Simply follow the steps above, starting with collecting the right tools. If you get stranded on the side of the road, be sure to call for help.

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