Tutorial: Changing a car battery

Tutorial: Changing a car battery
Tutorial: Changing a car battery

Up on Limestone Mountain outside of Lander, WY, helping retune an antenna rig.  Try to start Truckzilla to listen to the football game … click click click.  Dead battery.  Fortunately, another one of the guys on the crew that day was able to jump start us.  No problems for a month, until we were pointing a satellite dish on a hill partway between Laramie and Cheyenne.  Dish pointed, went to start up Truckzilla to go home, and you guessed it – click, click, click.  Dead battery.  We tried a few different unorthodox “don’t try this at home, kids” ways to trickle charge, the battery, but in the end, a nice man in a tow truck used the Square card reader on his iPhone to relieve us of $85 in exchange for jumping the truck.  We stopped at Walmart on the way home to get a new battery, and The Hubs left me in charge of changing batteries.  Trust me, it’s a lot easier than you think to change the battery in your car, truck, SUV, what have you.  Been there, done that on my scooter!

#1 – Pop the hood and get a lay of the land.  Figure out where your terminal connectors are – the black and red cables that are connected to the battery.  See if there’s something holding the battery in place besides the terminal connectors – a strap, a clamp, anything.

Doesn't that look tasty?

Doesn’t that look tasty?

#2 – Get your bits and parts and pieces ready.  Make sure you have your new battery handy, make sure you have your socket wrench and the right size sockets, make sure you have a screwdriver or bit driver or whatever else you need to get the hardware off and on again.  A battery brush will come in handy to clean off the terminal connectors.  You might want a telescoping magnet if there are screws to be removed from awkward places.

#3 – Unhook the terminal connectors.  BLACK then RED.  I cannot stress this enough – BLACK then RED!  If you go the other way, there’s a strong chance you can short things out.  Not something you want to do!

Pliers cam in handy when I couldn't get the ratchet to cooperate!

Pliers came in handy when I couldn’t get the ratchet to cooperate!

#4 – If there’s something securing the battery in the engine compartment, unhook that.  I’ve had cars that have held down the battery with plastic straps, and one with a metal hook.  Our 2005 Dodge Durango has a plastic bit that slips into a groove on the side of the battery and is screwed to the shelf the battery sits on.  I used a bit driver to do the removal of that screw, and a telescoping magnet to help me not lose the screw and washer in the engine compartment.

Clamping the battery in place - fingers don't reach here, thus the use of the telescoping magnet to keep track of the screw

Removing the piece that was holding the battery in place – fingers don’t reach here, thus the use of the telescoping magnet to keep track of the screw

#5 – Remove the battery from the engine compartment.  Lift and separate! *giggle*

#6 – Clean the terminal connectors!  Over the years, scuzz has probably built up.  Just use the battery brush to remove it.

Cleaning the positive terminal connector with my high class wire brush from Harbor Freight.  Hey, it works!

Cleaning the positive terminal connector with my high class wire brush from Harbor Freight. Hey, it works!

#7 – Put the new battery in place.

Battery in place and ready to go!

Battery in place and ready to go!

#8 – Now’s when you start doing things in reverse order.  Secure the battery in place by replacing whatever you removed that was holding it in place.  You don’t want a battery sloshing around in your engine compartment!

Battery is secured

Battery is secured

#9 – Reconnect the terminal connectors – RED then BLACK.  Again, RED then BLACK.  Don’t want to short out that nice new battery!

The terminal connectors are connected - RED then BLACK

The terminal connectors are connected – RED then BLACK

#10 – Make sure you’ve cleaned up your work area.  Put away all your tools.  Find all the extra plastic bits that may have gathered, like the red plastic cap that was covering that terminal on the battery.

 

In place, hooked up, tidied, up, ready to go!

In place, hooked up, tidied, up, ready to go!

#11 – Close the hood and turn your vehicle on.  Fingers crossed, you’ll hear the engine come to life!  Treat your vehicle to a nice drive-through car wash as a reward for being a good boy or girl.

 

Here’s a little takeaway from this:

B R R B

Be Right Right Back!

Black – Red – Red – Black

Get it?  Got it?  Good!