Junk Car Medics / Vehicle Maintenance / How to Remove a Car Battery to Be Replaced

How to Remove a Car Battery to Be Replaced

Dead car batteries are one of the leading causes of tardiness. Every morning people jump in their car ready to tackle their day, only to hear that dreaded silence or click. Even the best maintained vehicles will suffer from a dead battery someday.

Replacing your car's battery is one of the easiest and cheapest repairs when your car won’t start. You don’t have to be a certified mechanic to do the job, and DIY-ing it only requires a few tools. If your battery is the cause of your car trouble, here is how to remove or replace a car battery.

The battery warning light doesn't mean the car battery should be replaced.

What You Need:

  • Owner's manual
  • Adjustable wrench or socket
  • New battery

Optional: zip ties, wire brush

Step-by-Step
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    Locate the Battery

    In order to remove your battery, you must first be able to locate it. The majority of car batteries are under the hood and easily visible. They can be near the front of the vehicle or on one of the sides. In some makes or models, it may be under a black plastic cover or the air filter housing.

    While most vehicles have a battery that is easy to find and access, some of them make the job a little more difficult. The Dodge Stratus’s battery is accessible through the driver’s side fender well, which means the job is harder and more time-consuming when it needs to be removed. Other vehicles have them in the trunk, or underneath the back seat. Some of the GMC Acadia’s, for example, have the battery located behind the passenger seat, under the floorboard. You can find your vehicle’s battery location in your owner's manual.

    Remove the Connections

    After you have located the battery and gained access to it, it is time to remove the connections. The posts are either on top or on the side. If they are on the side, they are connected by a bolt that screws into the side of the battery and holds the cables in contact with it. If the terminals are on top, the cables will have a connection or cable end that fits around the post and tightens.

    First, determine what size of wrench or socket you need to loosen the connections or remove the bolts. Before loosening the connections, it may be necessary to remove any corrosion or build-up from around the nuts with a wire brush. If the corrosion is too bad, the connections may be brittle and need to be replaced altogether.

    Remove the negative cable end first (the one with the minus sign) — this ungrounds the battery and removes the danger of sparks or shorts which can damage the car's electrical systems. Then, remove the positive cable. After the battery is unhooked, make sure the cables are out of the way and will not make accidental contact with the battery terminals. You can use zip ties to keep them in place.

    Vehicle Electronics

    Keep in mind that after a battery goes all the way dead or you unhook it, all power to the car's electrical components has been removed. In most vehicles, this will cause the radio presets and some other custom settings to be reset or returned to default. After rehooking the new battery, you will have to set the radio or other items back to your preference. In some vehicles, like Hondas, you will have to enter a code for radio or navigation access before it will work again.

    One way to avoid losing your presets is to plug a battery pack or jump box into your vehicle outlet. There are many items on the market that will keep the settings to your customization.

    Remove Battery Hold Down

    Batteries are usually held in place by a hold-down or tie-down strap. In many cars, it consists of a metal brace on top and two long bolts that keep it secure. In other vehicles, it is a plastic brace or strap held down by one bolt. These hold downs stop the battery from bouncing around or moving when you are driving down the highway. It is important to remove them before trying to yank the battery off of its tray.

    Remove the Battery

    After all connections and hold downs are removed from the battery, it is now time to lift it out of the vehicle. You can use both hands to pick it up or find a lifting strap that makes it easy to pull out of the vehicle. Batteries are surprisingly heavy for their size, so be safe and careful while removing the battery. It is also important to avoid contact with any of the cables while taking the battery out.

    When you have the battery out, you can take it to be tested, charged, or to purchase a new one. In some cases, the parts store or shop will charge a core price if you decide to keep your old battery. Give them your old one to save twenty or thirty dollars.

    Old car batteries should be properly disposed and recycled.

    Insert New Battery

    If you’ve removed the battery for testing or to gain access to a different part you needed to replace, putting a new battery in is just the opposite of removal. We recommend cleaning the battery cable connections with some baking soda and water while the old battery is out of the way and then putting your new battery back. You first set the battery onto the battery tray or into its compartment.

    Second, reassemble the battery tie-down and tighten the bolts or strap to secure the battery into place. After all of these bolts are tight, it is time to put the connections back on the battery posts. Connect the positive terminal, followed by the negative terminal. Again, this allows you to avoid any unnecessary sparks and is the safest way to reconnect the battery. Make sure the connections are tight.

    Finally, replace any covers or seats that you had to remove in order to gain access to the battery. The last thing you must do after a battery removal is to make sure your car will start! Hopefully, you will be on your way in no time!

    Why Did My Battery Die?

    If you have ever gone into the grocery store, spent an hour doing your shopping, and came back out to a car that won’t start, you know there is no good time to have a dead battery. Whether it is from old age, or because your 10-year-old didn’t shut the door all the way, there are many things that could cause a battery to die. Most batteries last anywhere from 5-7 years, while some may die much sooner.

    Cold weather has a deadly effect on batteries. Tow companies get busy with jump starts and tow calls after the first freeze of winter. Make it a part of your car maintenance to have your battery tested before it gets cold to make sure it will withstand the cold temperatures.

    A malfunctioning or weak alternator can also drain your battery. If your alternator isn’t working properly, it doesn’t recharge your battery while your car is running. This can quickly run down a brand new battery and leave you stranded with a car that won’t start. Regardless of the cause, there the steps to take to remove or replace the vehicle battery.

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