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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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:
- Replacement battery
- Ratcheting wrench set
- Locking/vise pliers
- Safety glasses
- Protective gloves
- Battery cleaner
- Battery terminal cleaner (wire brush)
An optional tool is a hammer. Sometimes, gently tapping on the battery terminal cables with one can help loosen them from the terminal post.
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.
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.