If you ignore the warning signs from your car's battery that it's dying, you may find yourself stuck in a parking lot with a car that won't start. With a screwdriver and an hour of your time, you can replace your car battery and keep yourself on the road. Here are the steps to get through this DIY auto project.
How To Tell If Your Battery is Dying
Car batteries lose the ability to hold a charge after a few years. Printed on your battery is the number of months that you can expect your battery to last under normal conditions. When a battery dies, it takes a few days to fail completely. Some of the signs that you need to replace your battery right away include
- the engine turns over slowly when trying to start the car
- the lights dim when you turn the engine off
- the radio loses its programming and the clock loses time
Getting a New Battery
Visit your auto parts store for a new battery. Skip the confusing charts and booklets that tell you which battery you need and ask one of the clerks to find it for you. Auto manufacturers leave just enough room in the engine compartment for the battery, so you need the exact size for your car.
You'll also find a number of batteries available for your car. The primary difference is the number of months the battery is expected to last. You pay more for a longer lasting battery, but even the cheapest battery will start your car and keep it running for several months.
Replacing the Battery
- Locate the battery in the engine compartment. They are often toward the front of the engine and off to one side.
- Loosen the clamp on the battery with the black (negative) cable and pull the clamp off of the post.
- Repeat with the clamp with the red (positive) cable.
- Remove the strap that holds the battery in the engine compartment.
- Note the position of the battery in the compartment.
- Lift the battery up with both hands and place it on the ground out of your way.
- Lift the new battery up and place it in the compartment in the same position as the old battery. This is so the battery cables will reach the proper posts.
- Slide the clamp with the red cable onto the positive post on the battery and tighten the screw until you can't move the clamp.
- Place the clamp with the black cable on the negative post and tighten the clamp.
- Replace the safety strap that holds the battery in place.
Potential Problems With This Project
You'll need the help of an auto repair shop should you have one of the following problems while changing your car's battery.
- The battery is not easily accessible (e.g., it's under the engine).
- The clamps won't come off of the posts because of corrosion.
- The cables attached to the clamps are frayed or have broken wires.