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How To Install a Car Battery

A properly functioning car battery is essential to operating a vehicle at its maximum potential. When you notice your car has trouble starting and the dash lights dim frequently, it might be time for a new battery. Having an auto shop install a car battery can be very expensive. Here is how you can install your own battery at a fraction of the cost.

What you'll need:

  • New car battery. Swap out the old battery with the newer model.
  • Latex gloves. Wear these throughout the installation process so you're protected from acid or other discharged chemicals.
  • Adjustable wrench. An adjustable wrench disconnects and reconnects the battery terminals.
  • Baking soda solution. Mix baking soda and water to clean off the end clamps and battery tray.
  • Wire brush. Use a wire brush to scrub corrosive acid off tray and end clamps.
  • New battery cables. If your current ones are significantly corroded, replace them.
  • Old blanket. Use this to cover the fender by the battery.
  • Safety googles. Wear these to prevent corrosive materials from getting in your eyes.

Step 1: Turn off the engine and open the hood.

Before you pop open the hood, have your car turned off and in park. Also, make sure the parking brake is on during this project.

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Step 2: Cover the fender with the old blanket.

Since old batteries can drip corrosive acid or other hazardous materials, protect the fender near the battery with an old blanket.

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Step 3: Disconnect the cables.

Most vehicles have a negative ground so remove the cable first from the negative terminal. Use the adjustable wrench to loosen the nut on the black, negative terminal. Once it's loose, remove the cable from the negative post and lay it away from the battery. Follow the same procedure when removing the red, positive cable.

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Step 4: Unscrew the old battery from its holder.

Use the adjustable wrench or your hand to unscrew the bolts on the holder. Once the old battery is free, lift straight up and remove it from your work station. Remember that some batteries can weigh more than 40 pounds so ask for assistance if needed.

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Step 5: Clean the battery tray, terminal clamps and cables.

A battery can discharge corrosive acid or gather rust over a long period of time. Clean off the battery tray and the end clamps on each terminal using the baking soda solution and wire brush. Once it's clean, let it dry before installing the new battery. If there is significant corrosion, consider replacing these parts.

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Step 6: Place the new battery in the tray.

Align the new car battery with the positive and negative terminals on the correct sides. Put the new car battery in the tray and screw the holder back on with your hands or the adjustable wrench. Fasten the bolts tightly before moving on.

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Step 7: Reconnect the cables.

Attach the positive cable first and tighten the clamps with the adjustable wrench. Repeat the same procedure for the negative cable.

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Step 8: Shut the hood and start the car.

If the battery was the only problem, your car should start up immediately. Make sure all the electronics in your vehicle are functioning correctly.

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Step 9: Dispose your old battery.

Since it contains lots of corrosive materials, you must take proper steps when recycling a car battery. Many auto centers, recycling plants and organizations offer car battery disposal.

Learn more on how to dispose of a car battery

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