Your car battery will give you a little warning before it fails completely. Don't heed the warning and you may end up stuck in the parking lot with a car that won't start and full of groceries. Here is how to know when it's time to replace your car's battery and how you can do it yourself.
The Warning Signs
Once you see some of these signs of a weak battery, it won't be long before it quits completely:
- The engine turns over slowly when trying to start the car.
- The lights become dim when you have them on and turn the car engine off.
- The clock loses time and the radio loses its programming.
Replacing Your Car Battery
The first step is to visit an auto parts store and have them help you pick out the right battery. Auto manufacturer's allow just enough room in the engine compartment for a battery, so you must get the right size.
Tools You'll Need
- flat-blade screwdriver
- old rags for cleanup
- Locate the battery in the engine compartment. It's usually toward the front of the engine and off to one side.
- Remove the protective cover from the battery, if it exists.
- Loosen the battery clamp with the black (negative) cable attached to it.
- Pull the battery clamp off of the post while turning it slightly to loosen it.
- Loosen the battery clamp with the red (positive) cable attached to it and remove it from the battery.
- Push both cables and clamps out of the way so you can remove the battery.
- Remove the safety strap that secures the battery in the engine compartment.
- Note how the battery is positioned in the engine compartment. The new battery must go in the same way so the battery cables will reach their respective posts.
- Using both hands, because the battery contains lead and is very heavy, lift the battery up out of the engine compartment and place it on the ground out of the way.
- Again with both hands, lift the new battery up and place it in the engine compartment in the same position as the old battery.
- Place the battery clamp with the red (positive) cable over the positive post on the battery and tighten the screw until you can't move the clamp.
- Repeat with the black (negative) cable and clamp.
- Secure the battery in the engine compartment with the safety strap.
- Replace the protective cover over the battery, if available.
Problems You May Encounter
You'll need to make a trip to an auto repair shop (like G P Automotive or another location) if you have any of the following issues:
- The battery is not easily accessible, such as if it is behind or underneath the engine.
- The battery cable clamps won't come off of the battery. The auto shop will have to cut off the clamps and attach new ones.
- The battery cables connected to the clamps are frayed or have broken wires. The auto shop will replace the cables and clamps with new ones.