How to Remove a Car Battery

Your car battery is a crucial part of your vehicle's operation, despite the fact that it is not actually used once your car is running and moving down the road. It kickstarts all of your car's processes into motion when you turn the key, and also powers electrical components when your vehicle is off and parked. For the most part, it isn't necessary to give your car battery much thought, but there are times when you must remove it. Fortunately, this is usually a simple task that can be done on your own with basic tools you likely have on hand.

There are two primary reasons you may need to remove your car battery: to replace it, or have it checked for efficacy. In either case, the basic process is the same. Although batteries have assorted degrees of power output, the only thing that can vary in the removal steps relates to the type of terminals a particular battery possesses.

With five chief battery terminal types, it can be confusing about which tools to use, although the actual removal process is essentially the same for all batteries. These types are SAE post, GM side, combination, L, and stud terminals. American-made cars typically use either SAE post, GM side, or a combination-style terminal, while European cars favor the L variety, and electric car models often have stud terminals. To remove most of these types of batteries, you will use two pairs of pliers or two pairs of adjustable wrenches. In removing GM side varieties, however, you will require a socket and socket wrench, or ratchet.

Part 1 of 3: Preparation and safety tips

inspecting a car battery

Since batteries hold enough charge to deliver a potentially fatal shock, always wear insulated work gloves for protection. It is also wise to wear safety goggles because there is always the possibility that some of the corrosive agents inside the battery may leak. Regardless of which type of battery your car has, turn your car off before ever attempting removal, because the corrosive agents inside the battery are also flammable, and a running vehicle can produce a spark. Once these safety measures are in place and the tools outlined below have been collected, you are ready to remove your battery.

While the actual process to remove a car battery is fairly straightforward, there are other things you can do to ensure your safety as well as some general tips to keep in mind:

Tip 1: Use zip ties. Consider using zip ties or another form of restraint to keep each of the battery cables in their proper place as you take out the battery. This prevents them from touching and creating sparks that could potentially ignite the flammable contents of your battery.

Tip 2: Cover with cloth. Alternatively, you can cover the positive cable end with a cloth once it is removed to prevent any metal-to-metal contact, protecting your electrical systems and yourself from harm.

Tip 3: Remove jewelry. Remove any jewelry before attempting battery removal. Metal jewelry like necklaces, watches, or bracelets could accidentally come in contact with the battery and deliver a dangerous shock.

Tip 4: Work in well ventilated area. Work in an outdoor environment or a well-ventilated garage to prevent exposure to harmful gases.

Tip 5: If terminal is fused, use special tool. In the case that a cable seems to be fused with the terminal, you may have to use a special battery cable removal tool, which is available at most auto parts stores.

Part 2 of 3: Standard post removal (all types, excluding GM side)

removing a bolt from a car battery

Materials Needed

Step 1: Find negative terminal. Determine which of the terminals is the negative one. It often has a black plastic cover; otherwise, a minus sign will be located either on the post or in close proximity.

Step 2: Fixate bolt head. Take hold of the bolt head of the negative terminal with one wrench or pliers and hold it still.

Step 3: Remove the nut, and cable. Use the other pliers or wrench to remove the nut. Pull the negative cable off and secure away from the battery.

Step 4: Repeat for positive cable. Repeat this process on the positive terminal, taking care that the two battery cables do not touch. You must also prevent the positive cable from touching any metal because it carries a residual current that can affect the electrical components of your car.

Step 5: Remove securing bracket. If the battery is held in place with a bracket, use the pliers or wrench to take out the screws or bolts holding it into place. A socket with an extension may be added to remove the battery.

lifting a battery out of a car engine

Step 6: Lift out battery. Lift the battery straight out of the bracket, bearing in mind that it may weigh up to 40 lbs.

Part 3 of 3: GM post removal

loosening a battery nut with a wrench

Materials Needed

Step 1: Identify terminals. Identify which terminal is negative and which is positive, either by the color of the terminal color (black for negative and red for positive) or locating a plus or minus sign near each terminal post.

Step 2: Find correctly sized socket. Although most GM post terminals require a 3/8-inch socket, verify this is the case by fitting the socket over the nut head. If it fits snugly, it is the correct size. Otherwise, test other sizes from your socket set until finding the correct fit.

ratchet extender

Step 3: Attach the appropriate socket to the ratchet. If the terminals are in a tight spot, you may also need to use a ratchet extender.

Step 4: Remove nut heads. With the socket and ratchet connected, put the socket over the nut head and remove it with a counterclockwise rotation. Repeat on the positive terminal, and make sure the positive cable does not come into contact with any metal.

Step 5: Remove bracket and battery. If necessary, remove the bracket holding the battery in its tray, and lift the battery out.

If you run into any trouble while attempting to remove your car battery or simply feel uncomfortable doing the job on your own, don't hesitate to enlist the help of an certified mobile mechanic from YourMechanic.


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Keven

7 years of experience
118 reviews
Keven
7 years of experience
Ford Explorer V8-4.6L - Battery - Spanaway, Washington
Since we have started using YourMechanic and Kevin has been our mechanic we have gotten nothing but the best service. He always goes above and beyond and gives his best to insure we are taken care of.
Kia Soul - Battery - Puyallup, Washington
Kevin, is wonderful. He is on time and very efficient. He explains things very well and answered all my questions. Very friendly too. I would highly recommend Keven and plan on using him again if mechanic service is needed.

Carlos

28 years of experience
501 reviews
Carlos
28 years of experience
Jeep Compass L4-2.4L - Battery - Santa Ana, California
Carlos went above and beyond during the appointment, and was incredibly patient and kind when chatting with me about the car. His knowledge and professionalism was impressive and I'm very happy with the appointment.
BMW 750Li xDrive - Battery - Mission Viejo, California
He was behind schedule but let us know right away and as soon as he arrived he got the work done extremely fast. He is also very knowledgeable and informative. He was courteous and friendly. My husband and I would use him again with confidence.

Brian

7 years of experience
32 reviews
Brian
7 years of experience
Saturn Vue V6-3.5L - Battery - Dayton, Ohio
Brian was awesome he communicated with me through out the process and was a joy. Service was lengthy (car had a lot to fix) but completed well I will definitely use him again
Honda Accord - Car Battery Replacement - Dayton, Ohio
An expert at his craft. Fast with his work without missing a detail. Very personable. Highly recommend.

Jamie

22 years of experience
91 reviews
Jamie
22 years of experience
Toyota Corolla L4-1.8L - Battery - San Bernardino, California
This was the fastest car service I have ever had. Switched out my battery and check other things with my car and was done before I knew it. Will definitely continue to use this for more car maintenance.
Chevrolet Equinox - Battery - San Bernardino, California
Very friendly and knowledgeable. Great personality. When I need you again I will surely ask for him. Thanks Jamie.

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