How To Buy a Car Battery and Install It
Car batteries generally last for quite some time, but eventually they’ll need to be replaced. If your vehicle begins to have difficulty starting but eventually turns over after a few cranks (especially in cold weather), it’s probably time to check for batter drain or buy a replacement battery altogether.
1) Size Matters
Purchase the correct battery size for your vehicle. To do this, check the owners manual, look online, ask a mechanic or a clerk at the automotive store.
2) Know Your Choices
Maintenance free batteries are sealed and generally last longer while low maintenance batteries are not sealed and allow you to add water – especially important in hot climates.
3) Get Fresh
Make sure to buy the freshest battery possible. The longer a battery sits on the store shelf, the faster it will lose it’s charging ability. Look for the letter/number code on the battery which will inform you of it’s age, for instance, the letter “A” refers to the month of January, “B” refers to February, “C” refers to March, and so on, while the numbers correspond to the year, so the number “8″ would mean 2008.
4) Ask About Replacement Warranties
You’ll probably want to know how long the battery is warranted for, just in case it stops working before the warranty period has expired – and remember to keep your receipt. There’s generally a free replacement period, which after expired, you’ll get a pro-rated credit for a short time and then no credit at all.
Depending on where you shop, you may also be charged what is known as a “core charge.” This is because batteries contain lead and need to be disposed of in the proper manner and because lead is an expensive material. You can get this charge refunded to you if you bring in the old battery.
If you bring in the old battery at the same time you’re purchasing the new battery, the core charge can be used as a discount on the new battery. I always pay a core charge and always get my core charge refunded without any problems.
Just save your receipt if you’re bringing the old battery in after you install the new one.
5) It’s OK to Ask Questions
f you’re ever in doubt or need help, ask. It also helps to shop at the same automotive store over a period of time, so the store clerks get to know you. I’ve shopped at the same automotive store for years and most of the clerks know me by name – or at least know what kind of vehicles I own and drive.
Many times, I’ve walked in looking for a particular item and before I can even get the words out about make and model/year, the clerks need only ask if it’s for the truck or one of the cars, and before I know it, they’re off to locate exactly what I need.
How to Install a Car Battery
Always check your battery during normal routine maintenance checks for corrosion, cracks and leaks. This is a pretty easy process and should take no longer than 20 minutes, so let’s get started!
You’ll Need: Wrench, Small Wire Brush, Paper Towels or Rag, New Battery
1) Remove the old battery:
- Make sure your vehicle is turned off and open the hood.
- Notice there are two cables on your old battery; one is black and the other is red. Using a wrench, the first thing we want to do is to loosen and remove the nut which holds the black battery cable to the negative post.
- Next, loosen and remove the nut which holds the red battery cable to the positive post and then remove the battery clamp which holds the battery in place.
- Using both hands, lift the battery up, out and away. If the battery comes with a handle, all the better. Keep in mind that the battery will be heavy, so using both hands – even with the handle – is a good idea.
- With the battery out of the way, it’s a good time to clean out the battery tray using a rag or paper towels. If using a rag, be sure to throw the rag away after using in the event that it comes into contact with battery acid. Using a wire brush, remove any corrosion from the clamps and the battery posts.
2) Install the new battery:
- With both hands, lift the new battery up and into the battery tray. You should never sit the new battery on cement ground since the cement will drain the battery. It’s a good idea to keep the new battery on a work bench or on a flat board at any time prior to installing it in the vehicle.
- Now, reattach the battery, paying special attention to the cables. The cables are color coded, so the black cable goes to the negative (-) terminal and the red cable attaches to the positive (+) terminal.
- Using your wrench, tighten the nuts so the battery cables wont wiggle when you give them a tug.
- That’s it – you’re done!
Now all you need to do is take the old battery back to the automotive store where you bought the new battery so it can be disposed properly, and so you can get your core charge refunded. Or even grab a set of jumper cables and charge it up off the old battery to see if it will hold a charge. If it does, then you have a spare battery!
Remember to keep the receipt for the new battery in case the battery fails during the warranty period.