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How to Disconnect a Car Battery

A car battery.

A car battery gives your vehicle the power it needs to travel from one place to the next. Still, there are times when this crucial car part may need to be temporarily removed.

In those situations, you’ll need to know how to disconnect a car battery. It’s important to manage this task properly because if it’s handled incorrectly, removing the car battery can create a safety hazard and damage your vehicle.

When and Why to Disconnect Your Car Battery

Planning on keeping your car parked and unused for a long period of time? Maybe you’re going on a vacation and leaving your car behind. In cases like this, it’s a good idea to disconnect the battery.

Here’s why: The battery is connected to your car’s electrical systems, including components like the clock and the onboard computer, which can slowly but surely drain the battery over time.

Another scenario to consider is when the battery reaches the end of its life cycle. In cases like this, you’ll need to remove the old battery and replace it with a new one.

How to Disconnect Your Car Battery Safely

When you’re disconnecting your car battery, ensure that you keep safety in mind. The battery contains flammable gas that could cause you harm, so you should wear safety gloves and goggles during the process. You’ll also need a wrench to assist with battery removal.

If you’re replacing the battery with a new one, consider using a memory saver. This device ensures that your car’s computer memory is preserved while the battery is disconnected, and it can help you avoid having to reset the clock and radio presets once the battery is reconnected or replaced.

Disconnecting a car battery is fairly easy, and it can usually be completed in under 30 minutes. Here’s what the process looks like for most vehicles:

  • Step 1: Turn off the ignition. Then, plug in the memory saver if you’re using one. This is typically inserted into the cigarette lighter OBDII connector.
  • Step 2: Open the hood. Use the hood lever to open the hood. This lever is usually located in the glove box or near the steering wheel.
  • Step 3: Identify the battery’s negative terminal. Lift the hood and locate the battery’s negative terminal. This terminal will usually be labeled with a negative (-) sign.
  • Step 4: Disconnect the battery’s negative terminal. The negative terminal should always be disconnected first. Failure to do so can create sparks that could cause the battery to explode. Use a wrench to loosen the nut that holds it in place.
  • Step 5: Disconnect the positive terminal and remove the battery. Disconnect the battery’s positive terminal using the same process explained in the previous step.
  • Step 6: Remove the battery. Take care when you lift the battery from the vehicle, as it can be heavy. If you are replacing the battery and using a memory saver, don’t remove the memory saver until after the new battery has been installed.
  • Step 7: Store the battery. Store the battery upright in a cool, dry area with adequate ventilation. Make sure the temperature of the storage location isn’t low enough to cause the battery to freeze.

Another option for when you’re storing your car long-term is to install a battery disconnect switch. This switch allows you to disconnect the battery from the car’s electrical systems with ease. Both methods can help you remove your car battery safely and confidently.

Check out all the battery products available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to disconnect a car battery, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Warren Clarke View All

I'm a writer and editor who's a regular contributor with the New York Daily News and Carfax, and my content has appeared in over 20 publications. I've written content that covers industries such as automotive, medical, insurance, healthcare, real estate, plumbing, pest control, dental and hospitality.

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