Car batteries won't hold a charge forever. The good news is that they give you some warning before they fail completely. The bad news is that you only have a few days after they start to show signs of failing before they die. Here are the common symptoms of a failing car battery and how to replace it yourself so you don't get stranded in a car that won't start.
The Relationship of the Battery to the Alternator
The battery turns the engine over and allows the car to start. Once the engine is running, the alternator takes over to provide electricity to the car. It also recharges the battery while the car is running. Once you turn off the engine, the battery takes over to supply any electronic devices with power. When the battery starts to fail, you'll see the following symptoms:
- the engine will turn over slower as you try to start the car
- if the car's lights are on when you turn off the engine, the lights will fade
- the radio may lose its programing
- the clock may start to lose time
Eventually, the battery won't turn over the engine at all to start it and you'll be left with a dead battery and a stuck car.
Selecting the Right Replacement Battery
Make a trip to the auto parts store and ask for help finding the right battery. Auto manufacturers allow just enough room in the engine compartment for the battery, so your replacement must be just the right size.
The store clerk will show you a number of batteries with a range of prices. The difference is in the number of months that the battery is estimated to last before it needs to be replaced. The longer the life estimate of the battery, the more expensive it is. The least expensive battery will start your car, so choose the one that fits within your budget. Contact a company like Hub Auto Supply for more information.
Replacing Your Car's Battery
The only tool you'll need to change the battery is a flat-blade screwdriver.
- With the engine off, open the hood and locate the battery. It is normally found toward the front and off to the side of the engine compartment.
- Loosen the screw on the battery clamp with the black (negative) cable.
- Pull the clamp straight up off of the battery post.
- Loosen the screw on the battery clamp with the red (positive) cable and pull it off of the battery post.
- Remove the safety strap that holds the battery securely in the engine compartment.
- Lift the old battery straight up out of the engine compartment and place it on the ground out of your way.
- Lift the new battery up and set it in the engine compartment.
- Place the battery clamp with the red cable onto the battery post marked positive.
- Tighten the clamp until you can't move it on the post.
- Place the battery clamp with the black cable onto the battery post marked positive and tighten the clamp.
- Secure the battery in place with the safety strap.