How To Remove A Car Battery

Dustin Hawley | Mar 22, 2021

Batteries are a vital component of your vehicle’s functionality, ensuring that all the electronic parts in your car run smoothly during operation. Sometimes, however, you’ll need to remove your car’s battery to perform general maintenance or replace an old battery with a new one.

how to remove a car battery

But rest assured that you don’t have to pay an exorbitant fee at an auto body shop to get your battery replaced. In fact, changing out a car battery is probably one of the simplest, most fundamental automotive tasks that one can undertake. 

Here’s a short guide on how to remove a car battery.

Step One: Find Your Car’s Battery

To begin the battery removal process, start by popping the hood of your car. Once open, locate the battery within the engine bay. It should be easily identifiable, even with modern vehicles. Car batteries are shaped like rectangular cubes and have a pair of thick cables (often colored black and red) attached to two terminals atop the unit. 

While car batteries are almost exclusively found under the vehicle’s hood, there are a few exceptions. Some cars have batteries hidden out of sight in the engine bay or even in the trunk on specific models. If you are having trouble locating your car’s battery, make sure you check your car’s trunk and carefully examine the engine compartment to find out if it is in a more obscure location.

 If all else fails, simply consult your owner’s manual to determine where the battery is located.

Step Two: Locate The Positive And Negative Terminals

Next, you’ll need to locate the positive and negative terminals for your car battery. The terminals connect positive and negative current flow from the battery to the electrical components in your car. For this reason, it’s essential to remove these cables correctly, so you don’t hurt yourself or potentially damage the battery.

The positive terminal will be marked with a “+” symbol, while the negative terminal is marked with a “-“ symbol. Both characters should be on the surface of your car’s battery, often embossed near the applicable terminal on the battery’s shell. In many cases, car batteries have plastic caps that cover the terminals designed to prevent the cables from being removed too easily.

Step Three: Use Wrenches to Unbolt the Cables

After identifying the positive and negative terminals, you’ll need to gather a couple of tools to loosen and eventually unbolt the cables from the battery.

This process will likely involve a bit of trial and error if you have never removed a car battery before. If you don’t have wrenches on hand, borrow some from a friend if possible, or purchase some from your local auto parts store. 

Most standard battery cable clamps are made with 10 mm bolts. Therefore, a 10 mm open-ended wrench is a good bet if you aren’t sure what size you need. Depending upon your battery’s exact location, you may need a socket wrench to access a hard-to-reach area. Adjustable, open-ended wrenches are also good alternatives.

After determining the wrenches suitable for your cable bolts, you can begin removing the cables. 

Be sure that your car is turned off before proceeding. It’s also recommended that you wear eye protection during the removal, just in case battery acid or other debris has leaked or suddenly sprayed.

Start by unbolting the negative battery cable first. Once loosened enough to slide off the terminal post, disconnect the cable and lift it away from the battery. Do not let the wrench touch the positive and negative terminals at the same time. Though your car battery should be off at this point in the process, it may still hold enough residual electricity to short out and make a spark that could be potentially harmful.

Make sure to keep the negative cable far out of the way. Once secured in a safe location, repeat the process with the positive cable.

Step Four: Remove The Hold-Down Clamp And Lift The Battery Out

After both cables have been lifted away and disconnected from the terminals, you can begin removing the battery hold-down clamp. This component locks your battery in its tray that sits inside your car’s engine compartment.

You’ll likely need a socket wrench to remove the hold-down clamp. Some batteries have clamp bolts that sit far down in the tray, so consider using a wrench with an extender if you have trouble reaching it.

Once you’ve removed the clamp, the battery should be free to lift out of the tray by grabbing the attached handle and slowly lifting it up and out. After removal, place the battery on a flat surface away from any potential hazards, and you have successfully completed your task!

Tips For Removing A Car Battery

  • Car batteries are heavier than you’d anticipate, with most weighing anywhere between 40 to 60 pounds. Luckily, most batteries have an attached handle that you can use to lift them out of their holding tray.
  • If you’re planning to install a new battery, make sure you clean the battery tray and connector wires using a dedicated wire brush and cleaning solution before installation. Ensure the battery and cables are completely dry when removing an old battery and installing a new battery.
  • Remember that your battery - provided it is fully charged - can hold its charge for about six months to a year when disconnected from the negative cable. If you plan to store your car for an extended period, make sure that the negative cable is moved far out of the way of the battery, so it doesn’t accidentally reconnect with the terminal.

Installing A New Battery

Installing a new car battery is a relatively quick and straightforward process once you have removed the old battery. 

Before installation, be sure to clean out the holding tray and the positive and negative cables before inserting the new battery into the tray.

Align your new battery with the positive and negative terminals and cables during installation. Don’t forget to reinstall the hold-down clamp you removed with your old battery. Once your battery is clamped in place, attach the cables to the battery one at a time, securing them to the terminals using the same nuts and bolts you removed previously. Once connected, you have finished installing the battery. 

Summary

Knowing how to remove the battery from your car is a key skill that all car owners should know. With this in mind, you are now prepared to take on the task of removing your battery. A couple of wrenches and a little know-how is all you need to get rid of an old or failed battery and get your car back up and running in no time!

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