A Brief Guide to Changing your Car Battery

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There comes a time in everyone’s life when they will need to change a car battery, and it helps to know how to do it beforehand. Sure, you can try to guess your way through it, but it is certainly not recommended. That being the case, we’re going to go over a few of the basics you need to know before you attempt to change your battery. Remember, these tips are for your safety as well as practicality. Let’s get started!

What You’ll Need

To change your battery you’re going to need a few things. First of all, make sure you’re able to remove the battery terminals – typically you’re going to need a wrench to loosen the terminals, and most importantly, you will need one to free the battery from its mounting. Typically you will find that the car battery is at the top of the hood enclosure, though there are some cars that mount the battery in such a way that you would need to speak to your manufacturer, but these designs are few and far between. For the most part you’ll be able to change your battery right in your driveway.

The second thing we’d like to point out is that your replacement battery should be the same or better than the one that came with the vehicle. The battery needs to have the same Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) as the previous battery. CCA’s determine how many amperes a lead-acid battery can produce at 32 degrees F for 30 seconds while maintaining 1.2 volts per cell. Basically, it determines how much power you have to start your car in cold climates.

Getting Started

The first thing you’ll want to do is disconnect the terminals, and contrary to popular belief, it does matter which terminal you disconnect first. The auto industry always success taking the negative terminal off first and placing it on last when installing the new battery. In general this shouldn’t matter, but you will be stopping the battery from shorting or arcing if the positive touches a ground while the negative is still connected. Remember – the same logic applies when using jumper cables.

Changing the Battery

Take the following steps to properly change your battery:

  1. Remove the negative terminal
  2. Remove the positive terminal
  3. Use a socket wrench to remove the mounting
  4. Pull the battery out of the enclosure
  5. Place the new battery in the enclosure
  6. Replace the mounting
  7. Attach the positive terminal to the battery
  8. Attach the negative terminal to the battery
  9. Start the car to test

If the car does not start during your test, make sure that the terminals are properly connected. In addition to that, always make sure that the battery is properly mounted. There are many who will simply drop it in and leave it floating, but this can cause damage, especially during sudden stops. In addition to that it can cause the terminals to become disconnected during the course of driving which will cause the car to stop in traffic. Keep this in mind when you are changing your battery and you’ll be back on the road in no time.

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