What Are the Best Tips for Replacing a Car Battery?

Amanda Barnhart

Replacing a car battery is a relatively simple procedure most people can complete themselves in about half an hour or less. Using the appropriate tools and working in a well-ventilated area is important. The process also requires knowledge of the battery itself, how to remove the old one, how to install the new one, and important safety precautions.

Remove the negative, or black, cable before removing the positive, or red, cable to avoid a fire or injury.
Remove the negative, or black, cable before removing the positive, or red, cable to avoid a fire or injury.

Purchasing the correct automotive battery for the car ensures it will fit and work appropriately. Before replacing the car battery, the battery group number, reserve capacity, and cold-cranking amps should be written down. An automotive store or mechanic can advise customers on what type of battery to purchase based on the year, make, and model of the car if that information is not in the owner's manual. As long as it is the correct size, the new battery can have a higher reserve capacity and cold-cranking amps number. This may be helpful for people living in cold climates or those who want the car to be able to run longer if the alternator that charges the battery while driving stops working.

It only takes about half an hour to replace a car battery.
It only takes about half an hour to replace a car battery.

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Before replacing a car battery, rubber gloves, a wrench, rags, baking soda, water, and a stiff bristled brush should be on hand. Wearing rubber gloves while removing the old battery and installing the replacement car battery protects the skin from battery acid, which can cause serious burns. Disconnecting the negative cable first is extremely important, as removing the positive cable first could start a fire. Using a sturdy wrench to completely loosen the clamps attached to the battery terminals makes it easier to pull the clamps off the battery and remove it from the car. Before taking out the old battery, the way it is facing should be noted to ensure proper installation of the new one.

Mixing a small amount of baking soda with warm water will help clean any corrosion off the clamps and battery tray. Using a stiff brush dipped in the mixture makes it easier to scrub off any rust or corrosion that could prevent the new battery from working. Carefully wipe away any excess moisture or battery acid. Wiggle the new battery slightly after placing it in the battery tray to make sure it is tight and facing the correct direction.

Always connect the positive cable first when replacing a car battery. Make sure the clamps are tight and are pushed all the way down on the battery terminals. If the car does not start after replacing the new battery, turn the vehicle off and re-tighten the cables. Since old car batteries contain dangerous acid and chemicals, it is best to consult a mechanic or auto parts store on correct disposal methods. Many stores that sell car batteries will recycle an old one for a small fee or for free.

Rubber gloves should be worn when replacing an old car battery.
Rubber gloves should be worn when replacing an old car battery.

Discussion Comments


Many times there will be clamps that hold the battery securely in a tray. You may have to remove those clamps and replace them snugly after the new battery is installed. I forgot to do that one time, and the car stalled because the battery cables were jarred loose. It's not a difficult step, but an important one.

You may also want to bring the old battery with you when you purchase the replacement battery. The new battery may be too large for the old battery's holder, for one thing. The auto supply store may also give you a discount for bringing in a battery that can be refurbished and resold.


One thing to keep in mind is that most car batteries are very heavy, especially for their size. The battery may have a handle to make lifting easier, but it is still going to require some serious arm strength. Some batteries are also located in spots where bending over may be necessary. Lifting anything heavy in a bent position can cause a painful back injury, so be careful when pulling out the old battery and installing a new one.

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