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Replacing a car battery

The replacement of a car battery does not require incredibly esoteric or special tools, does not constitute an excessive danger to your safety and is well within reach of just about everyone. By doing it yourself, you can also save a bundle of costs and shopping time. Here's how you do it:

Step one: Find your battery

  how to replace a car battery
Ronan Glon / Digital Trends

The first step is finding your battery. In the vast majority of cars, it is located in a corner of the engine compartment. At the front, behind one of the headlights, or at the rear, directly under the windshield on either side. Note that it can be hidden under a plastic cover, especially if you are driving a car made in the last decade. Don't panic if you don't see it under the hood; the dealer did not scam you. Some car manufacturers (such as BMW) often choose to place the battery under the rear seat or in the trunk to save space. Your user guide will help you find it if you are unsure of the location.

Did you find it? Good. Now it's time to roll up your sleeves. We are talking about clothes that you don't mind getting a bit dirty. And make sure you know the code for the stereo of your car. For some cars & # 39; s, disconnecting the battery resets the stereo and asks for an authorization code the next time it is started.

Step two: Disconnect the terminals

Your 12-volt battery has a positive and a negative terminal, just like the AA batteries that you used to use in your Game Boy Color. It is connected via metal ends to the car's electrical system. Find both ends – bear in mind that the positive may be under a plastic cover – and determine how they are protected. You are lucky if your car has a quick release. If this is not the case, you need keys to release the ends. The size of the bolt varies from car to car. Some use bolts of 10 millimeters, others use bolts of 13 mm and some use one of each. You may even find a car with a 7 mm bolt or other size.

Begin by disconnecting the negative end. It is the one with a symbol next to it, usually on the battery housing. Remember: strong, powerful loose. The bolt does not have to take an enormous amount of effort to break loose. Make sure your wrench never touches both terminals at the same time. It will conduct electricity and cause sparks to fly, which is the last thing you want while working around a gasoline engine. Gently pull the end when it is loose to remove it and put it out of the way. Do the same with the positive pole and this time ensure that the wrench does not touch any metal part of the car (such as the hood or bodywork).

Step three: Remove the battery holder

Both ends of the battery are empty – what now? You cannot just pull out the battery. It is held by a holding system that usually consists of a belt or a metal plate. Either way, you need a socket wrench, the right cap, and an extension rod to drain the battery and reach the bolt.

Loosen this slowly and make sure you do not drop the bolt. We recommend using a telescopic magnet to pick it up before it falls into the dark, greasy abyss, also known as your engine compartment. You can also use pliers or just reach down and grab if you have enough room to do this.

Step four: Remove the old battery and inspect the terminals

Now you can take out the battery. It is relatively heavy, it can weigh 20 pounds or more depending on the size, so be prepared. Look at the ends of the terminal before reinstalling the new one. If you see an accumulation of greenish, greyish or whitish powder, clean them with scouring cloth or sandpaper to keep your charging system in top shape. Don't use anything too coarse; 100 grit works great. Sand the inner part of the ends until they are nice and shiny. Battery acid is corrosive, so wear gloves and do not try to put on clothing.

Step five: Install the new battery

  car battery
Ronan Glon / Digital Trends

Drop the new battery and don't forget to tighten the retaining system that you previously removed. Most new batteries come with anti-corrosion washers and grease to keep the poles free of dirt and grease. Grease easily, but cover the entire surface of the terminal. Then first connect the positive battery terminal and always ensure that the key does not come into contact with another metal part. It must be tight, you must not be able to move the end by hand, but do not over tighten it or you break it. Repeat these steps for the negative end.

Check again if you have not left any tools in the engine compartment, close the hood and start the car to check that everything is working properly.

Congratulations, you have just replaced your first battery.

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