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How to Change a Car Battery

If you are having trouble starting your vehicle, if you notice that the headlights are dimmer than normal or if the car needs a jump start, then it’s time to change the battery. You can bring your car to a mechanic, call a rescue service such as the AA, or learn how to change a car battery for yourself.

Buying the Battery

Buying the correct battery isn’t difficult due to the amount of information available through the internet and in parts retailers like Halfords, but it’s always worth checking the dimensions of the battery and making a note of your car’s make, model and engine size before entering the shop.

Before You Start

Make sure to park on a flat and level surface away from traffic and open flames. Put on gloves. Before you start you will need to make sure that you know all PIN codes for your radio and satellite navigation system, as they are erased when the battery is disconnected.

Locating the Battery

Some cars from manufacturers like BMW actually store the battery in the boot, but for most cars, the battery is under the bonnet. Once you’ve located the battery find out which terminal is positive and which is negative. The positive is normally marked with a plus sign and the negative with a minus sign.

Disconnecting the Battery

Disconnecting the negative terminal before you disconnect the positive is important. If you disconnect the positive first you may short circuit the positive terminal on a grounded part of the vehicle. You may need to use a spanner to loosen the clamp on the negative cable before sliding it off of the terminal. The same goes for the positive terminal.

There may be screws, bars of clamps holding the battery in place, so you will need to remove these before you can lift the battery from the car. Be careful when you take the battery out. It can be heavy and awkward to remove, so seek help if you have any existing problems with your back.

Replacing the Battery

Place the new battery into the gap created by the old one. Make sure that the positive and negative terminals are on the correct sides. Reconnect the screws, clamps or bars that held the old battery in place.

It’s important that you connect the positive first and then the negative and then tighten both with a spanner. At this point you can help to prevent future corrosion by spraying the terminals with lithium grease. Then you can close the bonnet and start the car, to check that everything works.

Recycling the Old Battery

You can’t recycle the old battery through your home or work recycling schemes, as car batteries are considered hazardous waste. They can only be recycled at garages, local recycling centres and scrap metal yards.

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