A car’s battery is its source of life. Without the battery, there isn’t much to keep a vehicle going other than a new one. If you ever find yourself with a dead car battery, here’s a quick step-by-step to help you on your way.
Park and Pop the Hood
For this project, you’ll want a combination/socket wrench, a battery terminal puller, a new car battery, rags, and gloves.
Make sure the car is in park and that the emergency brake is on. If the car is parked on an incline, place something behind the vehicle’s tires to ensure security. Turn off the car engine and give the car time to cool off.
Find the Battery and Posts
Depending on what type of car you have, the battery may be located under the hood or in the trunk. Parts may be covered, and you’ll want to remove those first. To know where the battery is located, try referring to the owner’s manual.
Identify Battery Ends and Detach Cables
Like most batteries, car batteries have positive and negative ends. The positive is often the post with a red cover while the negative post has a black cover. Use the wrench to loosen the nut on the negative/black end of the battery and do the same for the positive/red side. Even if you think a battery is completely dead, avoid letting any metal object touch the battery’s negative or positive posts. This could be dangerous and may cause a fire.
Try using the battery terminal puller if the battery is tough to remove, but do not use tools to pry up the cables as this may cause damage.
Remove the Battery
Remove the clamps holding the battery down, set them aside, and carefully remove the battery (always remove negative end first) from the tray without spilling acid. If possible, hold it by the handle while bracing the bottom to keep it steady. You can use a bowl or magnetized piece to hold miscellaneous parts.
Using a wire brush, clean the battery tray and connector wires. If you need a cleaning solution, use a combination of baking soda and water—just be sure to let everything dry completely before putting the new battery in place.
Install the New Battery and Apply Anti-Corrosive
Put the new battery in place and align the positive and negative ends to the matching cables and reinstall the clamps. Remove the plastic covers and prepare the new battery by spraying both terminal ends with an anti-corrosive solution.
Attach Cables and Double Check
Attach the cables to matching battery posts and tighten the caps with the wrench (when connecting battery, always connect positive/red end first.) Try to move the battery around to make sure connections on both ends are secure. If it shifts, tighten clamps and cables. Put back the battery cover if originally covered, and then try to start the car.
Carefully dispose the battery by following disposal requirements. If necessary, call your local hardware store to see if they’ll recycle it for you. Most communities have nearby recycling centers as well.
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