Replacing a car battery is one of the simplest of maintenance jobs, and anybody can do it themselves. Car batteries don’t last forever, and if you don’t want to end up being stuck on the side of the road with no power in your car, then you’ll want to stay on top of this easy task. We’re going to walk you through the process step by step, there’s nothing to fear, we promise!
Doing your own car maintenance, from changing a tyre to replacing a battery, is a great way to save money. And a well maintained car will have a higher resale value, be safer and easier to drive, and can even effect your car insurance premiums! So if you’re ready to jump into maintaining your own car, then we’re here to help you!
Before You Start Changing Your Car Battery
Before you get started with changing your car battery there’s a couple of things that you’ll need to do. You’ll want to have your car manual handy, since there’s some info you might need to look up. And, of course, you’re going to need a new car battery!
Getting a new battery might be a little intimidating, since there are different car battery sizes and technology types, meaning there’s a lot of batteries to choose from! Rather than going it alone, your best bet is to take your car manual to an automotive store and let the sales assistant show you the correct battery type for your vehicle. Getting help at this stage is going to save you lots of time and frustration. Car battery prices vary depending on type and size, but you can expect to pay around R1,000 for a decent battery, though around R1,500 is common for larger or more powerful vehicles.
What You’ll Need to Change a Car Battery
Now you’re going to need a few tools, some of which might not be quite what you’d expect! Firstly, you’ll need a good adjustable wrench, that’s going to be the main tool. But you should also have some clean rags, a pair of work gloves or latex gloves, and some baking soda on hand. Ideally, a cheap pair of safety goggles should be used too, to be extra safe!
If you’ve got a more modern car that has lots of electronics then make sure that you know the passwords and codes to switch these back on again. Things like your Bluetooth and Sat Nav may require resetting after a car battery change, and in some cars all electronic systems need resetting, though your car manual should contain all the info you need. Now you’re ready to begin!
How to Change a Car Battery
First, a couple of words of warning. Changing a car battery IS easy, but you need to keep safety in mind. Batteries contain battery acid, which is dangerous, so it’s important to be careful that you don’t drop or break the battery. Secondly, a car battery is heavy, so you might need a hand lifting it out. But these aren’t reasons not to change your car battery, and you’re about to see just how easy it can be! Here are your steps:
Open the Hood: In general most car batteries are under the hood, so park somewhere flat and safe and open up the hood, using the provided metal rod to keep the hood open if necessary (if your car battery isn’t under the hood you can skip this step!);
Find the Battery and Terminals: The car battery should be fairly obvious, though you might need to remove a plastic cover to see it, once you can see the battery then look at the top and see that there are two connections wired on, one of these is positive and one is negative. These should be clearly marked either with a – and +, or with “pos” and “neg”;
Disconnect the Battery: Using your wrench you’ll need to unscrew the connectors and move the cables. YOU MUST DISCONNECT THE NEGATIVE SIDE FIRST! Unscrew the negative terminal and move the cable to one side out of the way, then do the same thing to the positive terminal;
Remove the Battery: Depending on your car there may be a plastic frame or a couple of screws holding the battery in place, if there is then remove these things so that you can lift the old car battery out of the engine. Place the old battery somewhere on the ground where it’s safe and out of the way;
Clean the Battery Tray: If you look down at where the battery was there should be a small tray underneath. If this looks dirty or has deposits on it you’ll need to clean it. Mix up a little baking soda with some water, put on your gloves and eye protection (battery deposits are corrosive, so it’s best to be safe), and clean the tray using a rag. Once clean leave the tray to dry COMPLETELY before going on to the next step. Your battery tray might not need cleaning, in which case skip this step;
Place the New Battery In: Pick up your new car battery and put it into the tray, make sure that it faces the same way as your old battery, with the positive and negative terminals on the correct sides!;
Fix the New Battery in Place: If there were screws or a frame holding the old car battery in place, then replace these first. Now you can reconnect the new battery, in the reverse order that you disconnected it. YOU MUST RECONNECT THE POSITIVE TERMINAL FIRST! Take the positive cable, wrap it around the positive terminal and place the nut on and tighten it, using your wrench to make sure that it’s tight. Then do the same with the negative terminal;
Get Ready to Drive!: Close your hood, start your engine, and listen to that powerful new battery work, you did it!
Disposing of Your Old Car Battery
Because car batteries are filled with acid you can’t just throw your old battery away. You’ll need to recycle it properly. Call your local recycling centre for advice on this. Alternatively, some automotive shops and mechanics will dispose of the battery for you, but they might charge you a small fee for doing so.
Is it Time to Change My Car Battery?
Obviously, once your car won’t start anymore it’s time to change your battery. But that’s really a worst case scenario. So how can you know that it’s time to change your car battery BEFORE this happens? If your headlights are dimmer than they used to be that can be a good sign that you need a change of battery. Some mechanics will test your battery for free, which can be a good way to know that a change is due as well.
However, like most maintenance, prevention is better than cure. A car battery will last on average between three and seven years. If you look on the top of your battery you should see a small sticker that tells you how long you can expect the battery to last. You might want to note this date down so that you can replace the battery before it dies.
Changing Your Car Battery: In Summary
Changing a car battery might sound a little scary, but it’s really incredibly easy. Yes, you’ll need to take care, since batteries contain acid, but as long as you’re careful you should be able to change your battery in around twenty minutes. Plus, you’ll be saving yourself all those mechanic’s fees as well!
Main Subject: car battery
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