How do you manually disconnect a car battery?

Download Article Co-authored by Hovig Manouchekian Last Updated: May 10, 2022 References Approved Download Article

How do you manually disconnect a car battery?

Download Article   Co-authored by Hovig Manouchekian

Last Updated: May 10, 2022 References Approved

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This article was co-authored by Hovig Manouchekian. Hovig Manouchekian is an Auto Repair and Design Specialist and the Manager of Funk Brothers Auto, a family-owned business operated since 1925. With over 30 years of experience in the automotive industry, Hovig specializes in the process of auto repair and maintenance. He is also very knowledgeable in common automotive issues and needs including engine repair, battery replacement, and windshield accessory and maintenance. Hovig's knowledge and hard work have contributed to Funk Brothers Auto winning Angie's List Super Service Award for five consecutive years.

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This article has been viewed 2,020,035 times.

During your vehicle's lifespan, you may need to disconnect the engine battery for a variety of reasons ranging from simple car maintenance to full engine repairs. Though it might seem intimidating, the process is incredibly simple and can be done in less than a minute once you know how.

Steps

  1. 1Take the necessary precautions before you try to disconnect your battery. Besides holding a potentially lethal electrical charge, batteries contain corrosive agents that can produce a flammable gas. Before you remove your car's battery, take these safety steps.[1] X Research source Go to source
  • Turn off the ignition.
  • Wear safety goggles and gloves to protect your eyes and hands.

2Find the negative terminal on the top of your car's battery. It usually has a black cover. The battery itself may have a minus sign near the connector post. The positive terminal usually has a red cap or a plus sign on the battery near its connection post.[2] X Research source Go to source

  1. 3Determine what size socket you need to loosen the nut on the negative terminal. Always work on the negative terminal before the positive when you disconnect your battery.[3] X Research source Go to source
  • Grab a socket from your socket kit and hold it near, but not against, the nut on the negative terminal of your battery. Ascertain visually the socket size you'll need to loosen the nut.
  • Put the appropriately sized socket on your wrench. You might have to attach a wrench extender to reach the nut.
  • Put the wrench on the nut on the negative terminal and turn counterclockwise (remember: righty tighty, lefty loosey). It will take only a few turns to loosen it.
  • Pull the negative connector from the battery after you've loosened the nut. Push it aside so it is unable to make contact with the battery while you're doing your work.
  • If the cable is seized to the battery post, a special battery cable removal tool may be needed to remove the negative connector. Ask your local auto parts store or mechanic.

4Follow the same procedure to disconnect the positive terminal. After removing it from the terminal, don't let the positive connector touch any metal part of the car.[4] X Research source Go to source  There is residual current in the system that, if it were to touch a metal surface, could disrupt or damage the circuits in the vehicle.

  1. 5Continue with your work. With the battery cables disconnected, you can safely perform repairs on electrical components of the vehicle. If you just need to put in a new car battery, it can be done in a few simple steps.
  • After the battery is disconnected, unscrew the brackets that hold it in its tray.
  • Lift the battery straight up, out of its tray. Keep in mind that car batteries can weigh 40 lbs. so ask for help if you need it.
  • Using an old toothbrush, brush the tray and battery cables with a diluted baking-soda mixture and allow them to dry before putting in your new car battery.
  • Place the new battery on the tray and tighten the clamps.
  • Connect the cable for the positive terminal first, then the negative. Remember to securely tighten the nuts on each.
  • Close the hood and start the car.
  • Dispose of the old battery properly. The auto-parts store you bought your new battery from probably will take the old one as part of its service arrangement. If not, take it to a recycling center or automotive garage.[5] X Research source Go to source  Most accept old batteries for a nominal fee.

Expert Q&A

  • Question What mistakes can I avoid when replacing my car battery?

Hovig Manouchekian Auto Repair & Design Specialist Expert Answer Make sure the battery is the correct size. If it doesn't meet the specifications of the vehicle and the dimensions of where the battery sits, the battery may end up being too small and moving around in the cavity while the car drives. You should also make sure that you do not connect the battery cables backwards.

Video

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Tips

  • Remove all jewelry, particularly rings and necklaces.
  • Put on protective eyewear and insulated gloves.
  • Batteries in hybrid vehicles produce more than 300 volts, which is a potentially lethal level. If you need to work on any electrical component in a hybrid vehicle, disable the high-voltage battery in the back of the car first. The wiring is usually color-coded in orange. Use insulated tools and gloves when performing the task to reduce the risk of shock. Be sure to follow the exact procedure from the manufacturer on disconnecting a hybrid battery as there may be additional steps involved.
  • Zip tie the cables away from the battery to prevent cables from returning to the battery terminal and causing sparks or electrocution.
  • Standard car batteries can generate several hundred amps of current, which is roughly the amount of current used by a welding arc. Do not try to test your battery's charge by touching the positive and negative terminals with a metal tool. The current is so high it could damage the tool and potentially harm you, as well.
  • Work outside, where gases have no chance to build up.

Things You'll Need

  • Socket-wrench set
  • Socket-wrench extender
  • Protective eyewear
  • Insulated work gloves
  • Old toothbrush
  • Small pan
  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Zip ties

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References

  1. https://blog.firestonecompleteautocare.com/batteries/car-battery-safety/
  2. https://www.autobatteries.com/en-us/jump-starting-and-charging/jump-starting-your-car-with-jumper-cables
  3. https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/How+to+Disconnect+a+Car+or+Truck+Battery/66802
  4. https://www.familyhandyman.com/automotive/car-maintenance/how-to-jump-start-your-car-safely/view-all/
  5. https://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-recycle-batteries-2015-10

About This Article    HM Co-authored by: Hovig Manouchekian Auto Repair & Design Specialist This article was co-authored by Hovig Manouchekian. Hovig Manouchekian is an Auto Repair and Design Specialist and the Manager of Funk Brothers Auto, a family-owned business operated since 1925. With over 30 years of experience in the automotive industry, Hovig specializes in the process of auto repair and maintenance. He is also very knowledgeable in common automotive issues and needs including engine repair, battery replacement, and windshield accessory and maintenance. Hovig's knowledge and hard work have contributed to Funk Brothers Auto winning Angie's List Super Service Award for five consecutive years.  This article has been viewed 2,020,035 times.   Co-authors:  18 Updated: May 10, 2022 Views:2,020,035 Article Rating:83% - 6 votes Categories: Car Batteries and Ignitions Article SummaryX

To disconnect a car battery, start by turning off the engine and opening the hood so you can access the battery. Wear eye protection when working with the battery to protect your eyes from sparks. Locate the positive and negative terminals on the battery. The positive terminal will be marked with a +, and the negative battery will be marked with a -. If there are plastic caps over the terminals, remove those now. Next, use a wrench to unbolt the negative battery cable. Be careful not to touch the negative and positive terminals at the same time with the wrench or you could create a spark. Lift off the negative battery cable and set it aside. Then, unbolt the positive battery cable and lift that off too. If the battery is still stuck, youll need to use a socket wrench to unbolt the clamp thats locking the battery in place. Otherwise, lift the battery out of the vehicle, and youre done! For tips from our reviewer on removing and cleaning your car battery, read on!In other languagesItaliano:Smontare la Batteria dell'Auto Español:desconectar la batería de un carro Français:débrancher une batterie de voiture Português:Desconectar a Bateria de um Carro Русский:отсоединить автомобильный аккумулятор Bahasa Indonesia:Memutuskan Baterai Mobil Nederlands:Een auto accu loskoppelen Čeština:Jak odpojit autobaterii हिन्दी:किसी कार की बैटरी को डिसकनेक्ट करें العربية:فصل بطارية السيارة 日本語:自動車バッテリーの取外し 中文:断开汽车蓄电池 ไทย:ถอดขั้วแบตเตอรี่รถยนต์ Tiếng Việt:Tháo ắc quy xe hơi 한국어:자동차 배터리 분리하는 방법 Türkçe:Arabanın Akü Bağlantısı Nasıl Kesilir فارسی:اتصالات باتری ماشین را جدا کنیم

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Reader Success Stories

J. B.

J. B.

Jul 31, 2016 "Was stuck in France with my engine light and TPS lights on all the time. Knew nothing about cars, so went on a blog which suggested cleaning the air filter, MAS, and disconnecting the battery so as to reboot the electrics. After messing about with a few wrenches and spanners, I disconnected the battery, waited 2 mins then reconnected. Voila! no more lights! So now will wait and see if it is a genuine engine fault or just an electrical one.  Thank you."

Peter Seddeg

Peter Seddeg

Jul 12, 2016 "Although a car DIY 'enthusiast,' I was oblivious to the danger of keeping items such as wedding rings on when working on the electrics (but it's obvious when pointed out). I'll be sure to take any such item off in future. Many thanks."

Mary Griffiths

Mary Griffiths

Apr 14, 2016 "Very helpful. Was trying to remove connector nuts with adjustable wrench; didn't think socket wrench would fit but extensor may help. Zip ties are a good idea too. I will start over, thanks."

Pip Nicolson

Pip Nicolson

Sep 2, 2016 "I misplaced my battery charger instructions, and couldn't remember which terminal to remove first.  This post was very helpful, thank you."

Adrienne De Forrest

Adrienne De Forrest

Aug 15, 2016 "Clear, basic instructions that are needed by some of us! Trying to disconnect my RV battery for the first time and by myself. Thank you."

Rey White

Rey White

Mar 11, 2017 "I always forget if I'm supposed to remove the positive cable first or the negative cable. Thanks!"

Phill Hayes

Phill Hayes

Mar 1, 2017 "Very easy to follow and very clear instructions. Makes the removal easy, and above all, safe. "

Paul Zatulove

Paul Zatulove

Jul 5, 2016 "Article covered all safety precautions. Photos were perfect accompaniment to text."

Dorie Salazar

Dorie Salazar

Dec 14, 2016 "Didn't know which to take off first, negative or positive. Thank you."

Tina Flavin

Tina Flavin

Oct 28, 2019 "Very clear, so easy to understand for everyone. Thank you."

David Swain

David Swain

Sep 4, 2016 "It confirmed how I thought it should be done.  Thanks."

Dwight Fry

Dwight Fry

Aug 27, 2020 "This was very clear and helpful. Thank you!"

Scatz Ment

Scatz Ment

Jul 9, 2016 "Helped me a lot. Thanks."     More reader stories Hide reader stories

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