Don't Get Stuck Without Power – Change Your Own Car Battery

Your car turns over slowly when starting it. The lights dim when you turn the car off. These are signs of a car battery that is ready to die and you need to act quickly. If you don't, you may find yourself in a parking lot with a car full of groceries that won't start. Here is how to change the car battery yourself so you don't have to face that dilemma.

Getting the Right Battery

Make a trip to an auto parts store and have them give you the right battery for your car. They have dozens of batteries to chose from and will find the one that physically fits into your car and has the right power level to turn your engine over to start the car. They will show you several batteries at different price levels. They will all start your car, but the factor affecting the price is how long the battery will last before you have to change it. The cheapest battery will start your car, but you may have to replace it in a couple of years versus the more expensive five-year batteries.

What You Need to Change the Battery

  • flat-blade screwdriver
  • socket set or open-end wrench set
  • old rags for cleanup

Replacing Your Car Battery

  1. Make sure the car is off before changing the battery.
  2. Open the engine hood and locate the battery. It is likely at the front of the engine compartment to one side of the car.
  3. If a protective cover is in place over the battery, remove it.
  4. Find the black cable and clamp attached to the battery.
  5. Loosen the cable clamp on the battery with the screwdriver, socket or wrench.
  6. Pull the battery clamp straight up off of the battery post. You may need to twist the clamp from side to side while pulling it up.
  7. Push the clamp and cable to one side so you can remove the battery.
  8. Repeat by removing the red battery cable and clamp.
  9. If the battery is held in the engine compartment with a strap, loosen and remove it from the battery.
  10. Note where the positive (red) and negative (black) battery posts are located so you can put the new battery in with the same orientation.
  11. Using both hands, lift the battery straight up out of the engine compartment and place it on the ground. The battery is heavy, so always use both hands and have a firm grip on it when lifting.
  12. Lift the new battery up with both hands and place it into the battery compartment in the same orientation as the old battery.
  13. Secure the battery strap over the battery to hold it in place.
  14. Place the red battery cable clamp over the positive battery post and secure with the screw or bolt. Repeat with the black battery cable clamp.
  15. Replace the protective cover over the battery.

Take the old battery to the auto parts store for a few dollars of credit and to have them dispose of it for you.