Replacement Car Battery Guide

With proper care, your car battery can last three to five years. Certain signs will indicate your battery is failing. Luckily, a car battery replacement is one of the easiest DIY jobs—as long as you follow the right steps. Use this guide to learn how to replace your car battery on your own.

Replacement Car Battery Guide - Guide pour le remplacement de la batterie
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Duration: 10-30 minutes
  • How often: every 3 to 5 years

Locating the Battery

Most car batteries live under the hood in one of the front corners. On some vehicles, you’ll find the battery in the trunk or beneath the rear passenger seat. Battery placement is based on weight distribution and space in the vehicle. If you can’t find your car’s battery right away, check your owner’s manual for its location.

Sometimes, your battery may just need a boost instead of a replacement. Before you remove it, you can test its condition at a NAPA AUTOPRO service centre or at home with a battery tester or multimeter. If your battery can be saved with a boost, follow this guide.

If you still need to replace the battery, connect a memory saver to your vehicle to save any radio codes and settings you want to keep.


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Autel Memory Saver

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Picking a Replacement Battery

Getting an appropriate battery for your car is crucial to the replacement process. Your owner’s manual should provide the information you need to pick a battery that’s compatible with your vehicle in terms of size, voltage, and terminal placements. If you were happy with your old battery, look for its name and manufacturing number on the battery case so you can find the same one. The type should be indicated on the side of the battery or on the label.

To find the right battery for your vehicle, visit your local NAPA Auto Parts store for expert advice or search through the batteries we have available online.

Once you have your new battery, make sure it’s fully charged and clean all the terminals before placing it in your vehicle. If you skip this step, the battery could overload and potentially damage the vehicle’s charging system.

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Gathering Your Equipment

Nothing’s worse than starting a job only to realize midway through that you don’t have the tools you need to finish it. Avoid this scenario by gathering your tools before you set about replacing your car battery:

An optional tool is a hammer. Sometimes, gently tapping on the battery terminal cables with one can help loosen them from the terminal post.

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Locking Pliers

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Removing the Old Battery

You don’t need much space to complete a battery replacement, but you do need proper lighting. Do this job outside in the daytime or in a well-lit area indoors.

When you’re ready, remove your car’s battery as follows:

  • Disconnect the negative terminal with a small wrench (8mm or 10 mm).
  • Disconnect the positive terminal.
  • Remove the battery holder/clamp and any bolts or screws keeping it in place.
  • Remove the battery from the battery tray (it may be heavier than you expect).

You must complete these steps in order. If you disconnect the positive terminal first, you risk short-circuiting the battery and damaging the electric component of your car.

If your old battery is from NAPA, you can take it to a NAPA store, along with your invoice, to have it recycled. You’ll also receive a store credit for the amount of your core charge deposit.

Installing the New Battery

You’re now ready to put in your new battery. Follow these steps to get the job done:

  • Confirm there’s no corrosion on the battery terminals and cables (clean further if necessary).
  • Place the new battery in the battery tray.
  • Reattach the battery holder/clamp.
  • Connect the positive terminal and then the negative terminal.

To prevent future corrosion on the battery cables, you can apply dielectric grease or petroleum jelly under the clamps. You should also keep up a regular maintenance routine to avoid having to change your battery more often than necessary.

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Dielectric Grease

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Electric Vehicle Batteries

If you have an electric vehicle (EV), you won’t need to worry about battery maintenance—aside from charging, of course. EV batteries typically last 10 to 20 years, so unless you keep the same EV for several decades, you likely won’t need to replace your vehicle’s battery.

This doesn’t mean EV batteries are indestructible, however. Certain conditions, like extreme heat, can take a toll on them, just as they take a toll on the batteries in gas-powered cars. If you’re worried about the condition of your EV’s battery, have it assessed by an experienced professional.

If you have any questions or concerns about car battery replacement, visit your local NAPA Auto Parts store to speak with an expert.

Quick tips

  • Follow these instructions carefully. Read and be sure you understand them before you begin.
  • Gather all your tools and supplies before you begin.
  • Allow plenty of time to do the job so you don't have to hurry.
  • Remember that these are general instructions. For more detailed instructions pertaining to your specific vehicle, consult an appropriate repair manual.
  • Safety is important whenever you're working around machinery. Beware of hot objects, sharp instruments and hazardous materials.
  • Don't substitute tools unless you're sure you won't compromise either your safety or the performance of your vehicle.
  • If you have any questions about repair and maintenance, contact your local NAPA Auto Parts store.
  • Find the nearest NAPA Auto Parts location.

11 Replies to “Replacement Car Battery Guide”

  1. Hmm says:

    A common issue is rough idle after battery replacement. You’ll need to have the car’s computer relearn the idle.

  2. Tom Buffa says:

    You say that you may apply dielectric grease under the clamp. I have seen advice that said to clean the post and clamp, and then apply a very light cost of dielectric grease on the post and install the clamp. Then cover the outside of the clamp and bolt with dielectric grease. Some people say that you should never put grease between the post and the clamp since it is an insulator and will impede the flow of current. Others say that the grease on the post will squeeze out of the high spots where contact is actually made, and fill the low spots to achieve a long life, corrosion free, high capacity connection.

    I tried this over a year ago on my wife’s 2014 Subaru Crosstrek. We finished out the Winter of 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 without any problems. What do you have to say about the practice of applying a thin coat of dielectric grease to the battery posts? I really hope that you have an authoritative and definitive answer to this, because it is so controversial. I am pretty meticulous when I change a battery, as compared to some of the you tube videos.


    1. NAPA Canada says:

      Hello, dielectric grease will prevent oxygen (and corrosion) to enter the post and clamp. We recommend a thin layer once battery terminal is clamped. It is better to allow maximum contact between metal (clamp and post). Thanks!

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  9. Eli Richardson says:

    This morning, my brother’s car stopped working due to his dead battery. I think he’ll replace it this week because he needs his car to get to work on time, so I’ll make sure he reads your tips right now. Thank you for the information on disconnecting your car’s battery in the right order to avoid damaging your car’s electric components.

  10. Elle Jones says:

    My brother’s automobile quit working this morning. My brother’s car broke down this morning owing to a dead battery. I’ll make sure he gets your advice straight away since I believe he will replace it this week because he has to utilize his car to get to work on time. Interestingly, you said that certain situations, like excessive heat, might wear them down exactly like they do the batteries in gas-powered automobiles. Have the battery in your EV inspected by an expert if you’re concerned about its health.

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