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How to Remove a Car Battery: The Complete Guide

We Walk You Through The Best And Safest Way To Remove And Replace Your Car Battery

Car Battery

There is nothing worse than getting into your car, turning the key, and hearing the sputtering sound of a car that won’t start. More likely than not, a dead car is due to a dead car battery. And while you can invest in a battery charger for when your car is parked at home, if you find that your battery keeps dying, it may be time to replace the battery altogether. Replacing a dead or dying car battery isn’t a difficult task, but it will be easier if you are prepared with the right tools.

Properly Changing Your Car Battery

Safely changing a car battery requires attention to detail. If you don’t install the new battery properly, your car will not work. And there are some safety considerations and precautions you will want to take in order to safely remove and discard your old battery. But don’t let this scare you — with the proper knowledge, you can easily tackle this process. In this article, we’ll focus on how to safely remove a car battery and replace it with a new one, and answer your questions about how to dispose of the old battery properly.

How To Remove And Replace A Car Battery

1. Gather Tools And Set Up Work Space

First, you’ll want to ensure you have all the tools needed to remove and replace your car battery. You will likely need a wrench or socket wrench to loosen the battery’s bolts and nuts — the correct size will be based on your currently installed battery. You may also want a pair of rubber gloves for added safety, especially if you notice any cracks or corrosion that could lead to leaking battery acid. Another optional tool you may want to have on hand is a battery tester. You can use a tester to make sure the new battery is working properly. And, of course, you’ll need to have the replacement battery.

After gathering the tools you’ll need for a successful battery replacement, you’ll want to set up a safe area to proceed with the battery change. Ideally, you’ll want to park your car on a flat surface, such as a garage, driveway, or parking lot. Make sure you know where the battery is located — though it is in the engine compartment on most vehicles, some cars have the battery in the trunk or behind a wheel well. If you can’t find your battery, consult your owner’s manual. Once you’ve got your car situated and your tools at the ready, you are ready to remove the old car battery and replace it with a new one.

2. Remove the Battery Cables, Connectors, And/Or Fasteners

First, you’ll need to remove the negative terminal cable. That terminal should be clearly marked with a minus sign (). You may need to use a wrench to loosen the connector in order to remove the cable. Make sure that when you remove the cable, you do not set it down on any metal part of the engine bay or touch the metal wrench as this could create a spark. Then, you will do the same thing for the positive terminal cable, the side marked with the plus sign (+).

Next, you will need to loosen the battery hold-downs so the battery can be lifted out of the engine. To do this, loosen whatever is holding the battery in place, which could be either a connector and/or a fastener. Some batteries have one or the other, while other batteries have both. Once this is loosened you now should be ready to lift the battery out of the car.

3. Lift The Battery Out Of The Car And Set It In A Safe Spot

Lifting the Car Battery

Next, you’ll want to remove the battery from the vehicle. If you have rubber gloves, put them on for this step. Make sure you have a secure hold on each side of the battery and lift it up. A car battery can weigh anywhere from 30 to 50 pounds, so make sure you have a good grip on it as you lift it out. If you feel you may not be able to lift the battery by yourself, ask for assistance. Then, carefully place the battery on a level dry spot that is out of the way.

4. Clean The Battery Tray And Terminals

Cleaning the Clamps

Before you get your new battery in place, you’ll want to make sure the area where the battery will be sitting is clean. Clean any dirt, debris, or corrosion from the battery tray. Another area to focus your cleaning on is the battery clamps, to remove any corrosion or debris.

5. Place And Secure New Car Battery

Once the area and connections are clean, you are ready to put the new battery into the car. First, carefully place the battery into the battery tray. Make sure it is oriented the correct -same as the battery you removed- way before you move on. Next, secure the battery by refastening the connectors and fasteners on your battery’s hold-down. Finally, you’ll reconnect both the positive and negative terminals, starting with the positive one first.

6. Test Your New Battery

Testing the Car

Now it’s time to give the new battery a test! Hop in your car and either power up the engine or just turn on the electronics. If they both work, then the new battery is installed and working well. You have successfully installed your new car battery and are ready to hit the road.

Steps To Remove and Replace a Car Battery:

  • 1: Gather Tools And Set Up Work Space
  • 2: Remove The Battery Cables, Connectors, And/Or Fasteners
  • 3: Lift The Battery Out Of The Car And Set It In A Safe Spot
  • 4: Clean The Battery Tray And Connections
  • 5: Place and Secure New Car Battery
  • 6: Test Your New Battery

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some steps I can take to be safe while changing my car battery?

The two main safety concerns you should be aware of when changing your car battery are electrical charges and battery acid.

To avoid sparks or shocks when replacing your battery, make sure to pay attention to where you place the cables. Once you disconnect the terminals, make sure you don’t put them in contact with any bare metal. And make sure you reconnect the terminals to the correct battery post.

You will want to examine your battery before you start and again when you are pulling it out from the tray. If there is any obvious damage or leakage, you may want to take your car to a mechanic as battery acid is highly caustic.

Though rubber gloves and safety glasses aren’t entirely necessary, they do add a protective layer between you and any battery acid or other irritants you might not be able to see. We’d recommend using them just to be safe.

Where can I dispose of my old car battery?

You can take an old car battery to either a recycling location or an auto shop or parts store. If you are going to take it to a recycling location, make sure you call ahead first to make sure that they take car batteries.

You should not put your old car battery in your household trash or recycling. Battery acid is considered a hazardous and toxic material. Certified recycling centers are able to process old batteries, so be sure to do your research and find a local center or shop that will accept your old battery.

Do I always have to replace a dead battery?

The simple answer, most of the time, is no. The majority of the time when you have a dead battery, a simple jumpstart to recharge the battery will do the trick.

Oftentimes, a battery will die if your car has been sitting inactive for a long period of time or perhaps you left an interior light on by accident. As long as the battery can still hold a charge, it does not need to be replaced.

However, if you notice that your battery is dying frequently and no longer holding a charge, it is probably time to replace the old battery.

Jake Starr
About Jake Starr

Jake Starr is a rising junior at Penn State and is from just outside of Philadelphia. At Penn State, Jake is the News Director at the school's radio station. In addition, he serves as a writer for Penn State Athletics, covering multiple sports. Jake specializes in sports play-by-play, hosting, reporting, and feature writing amongst other things. He has an extensive writing background that he will bring to Autowise to provide the best content possible.