This article was originally featured Car Bible.
Time is needed: Less than 30 minutes, Difficulty: Beginner, Cost: Price of a new battery (60-300)
A few years ago, when I was still living in a campus apartment at Ohio State University, I was passing by two college kids tinkering anonymously under the hood of the Hyundai Elantra. I guessed the car wouldn’t start, and somehow the two of them avoided the jumper wires and instead went straight to replace the batteries. After screwing around with all the controls, they figure out how to pop the hood, look at the engine and say, “Oh no, this is a hybrid.”
There was no Elantra hybrid then. The two college kids were distracted by a red wire and black wire cover, which protects an ideal 12-volt battery. When they finally closed the cover, they didn’t know what to do next. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else, so we’ve collected a helpful guide on how to remove and install car batteries. Let’s get started.
Security is minimal
Car batteries are a pretty ubiquitous technology and the risk of electric shock is generally low. But low risk means no risk. Car batteries should be handled with extreme care. Before you do anything, consider these tips:
- Wear long sleeves and long pants if possible. Your car battery contains a mild acid that stores energy. It can cause severe to mild chemical burns if it comes in contact with the skin. Keep the battery straight when lifting and try to keep it away from your skin. Be sure to check your battery, both new and old, for any cracks, swelling, or electrolyte leaks. All these signs indicate that the battery should be replaced immediately.
- Wear rubber gloves. Even a thin rubber glove will act as an insulator, both from accidental acid spills or from any misleading arching of electricity. The risk is low, but remember, low risk is not equal to any risk.
- Wear safety goggles. All kinds of liquids, dirt and debris are stored in the bay of the engine, where your battery is kept. The goggles will not only protect against any possible acid spills, it will also keep the irritating particles out. Always wear glasses when working under the hood.
- Lift with your feet when removing a car battery. Some car batteries can weigh up to 40 pounds. Don’t hurt yourself, lift with your feet, not your back. We would hate for you to end up with permanent back damage rather than a typical 10-minute repair.
The tools and parts you need
Generally speaking, removing and installing a car battery is not very complicated. Some manufacturers may place them in strangely inaccessible locations that require additional equipment, but this is unlikely. Here’s what you need:
- A socket set and / or wrench set. Generally, in most car batteries the bolts holding the terminals will be held in place by a 10 mm nut or bolt. If you are not sure about the size, an adjustable crescent wrench can work, but be careful not to round those nuts.
Preparation: How to remove old batteries
If you have a new battery installed, this probably means removing an old battery. Don’t worry, it’s an easy task.
- Make sure the car is in a safe and secure place. If it’s in a garage, make sure the door is open. Make sure the car is in the park (or first gear, if it is a manual transmission car), the rear wheel is stuck, or the parking brake is engaged.
- Open the hood or trunk depending on the vehicle. Occasionally, the battery may be located in a less convenient location. If the location is not clear, check the car owner’s manual for the location of the battery.
- Find the negative and positive battery terminals. Remember, the positive is red, the negative is black. Typically, the positive terminal has a small plastic cover with a plus sign that can be easily retrieved. There may be a negative sign near the negative terminal, but not always.
- First start by removing the negative battery terminal. Take your wrench or ratchet and slowly crank or turn it counterclockwise. You probably don’t need to close the nut or bolt completely, but loosen it enough to close the terminals. Turn the negative battery terminal from the battery pose and remove it in such a way that it does not touch anything. Make sure the battery terminal is not being stretched or too tight.
- Repeat the steps for the positive battery terminal and note how the terminals are positioned.
- Not every car has it, but if equipped, remove the battery bracket / bracket.
- Usually, most batteries have some kind of grab handle, but it can be broken or completely lost. Be sure to use caution when removing batteries from the car.
- As an optional step, this is a great time to consider cleaning up your battery terminals.
Work: How to install car battery step by step
Once the battery is exhausted and the terminals are clean, it is time to install a new battery.
- Take your new matching battery and reinstall it in his home Be sure to pay attention to where the terminals go and make sure the battery is in a safe position.
- If so, reinstall the battery-protected posts
- Reconnect and tighten the cable first to the positive terminal, then to the negative terminal. The wires should be snug on the terminal, unable to move.
- Once it’s buttoned up, turn on the car to make sure everything is working. If all goes well, it should be fired directly.
- Close the hood, make sure all your equipment is out of the engine bay and you’re done!
Frequently Asked Questions about installing car batteries
We want to try to answer any of your questions. We selected common points of confusion from our experience, as well as commonly asked questions from popular search results. We have answered that question below.
Q: Which way do you install your battery?
A: Of course yes. Your battery (and car) is designed to take battery power to one side. Positive to positive, negative to negative. Any of these can cause serious damage to the car’s electrical system or battery. Before you remove the old battery, take a picture for easy reference.
Q: How do I know what kind of battery my car needs?
A: It is more complex, but the size and type of battery is usually found in the car owner’s manual. If not, there is often a sticker on the front or top of the old battery that shows the size and type of the battery. If all of these strategies fail, the clerk at your local auto parts store should be able to confirm the correct battery type.
Q: What to do with the old battery?
A: Most local municipalities, junk yards, and auto parts stores have battery recycling programs. Whatever you do, please dispose of it safely! The components in a car battery can be very harmful to the environment if not disposed of properly. The “throw our batteries into the sea” joke is just a silly meme. Please don’t do that.
Q: Uh, my watch shows 12:00 and my radio presets are gone. What happened?
A: This is normal. Depending on how long the battery was removed, the car’s computerized systems were completely de-energized, meaning the car forgot all of its stored settings.
Learn more about car batteries from this helpful video
At the time of writing, the steps probably look longer and more complex than in reality. Here’s a simple, easy-to-follow video from Parts Store O’Reilly