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Tools Needed to Change a Car Battery

Red and black jumper cables are connected to a car battery to give it a needed boost.

NAPA The Legend Professional Battery

If you own a vehicle long enough, you’ll probably have to replace the battery. Typically, batteries last an average of three to four years but can quit after just two. Most batteries are located under the hood, but larger ones can be found under a seat or even in the trunk.

Swapping out a battery is one of the easiest do-it-yourself projects. However, not everyone should attempt it alone. The battery may be too heavy or the location too awkward. After you’ve sized up the job, these are the tools needed to change a car battery.

Personal Protective Equipment

While not usually listed among the tools needed, goggles and rubber gloves are highly recommended. Both chemical and electrical hazards are present when swapping out a battery. And in addition to skin protection, gloves with solid grip support will help you not drop the battery.

Memory Saver

One of the newest devices in the battery tool change inventory is a memory saver. Sometimes known as a “keep memory alive” device, this unit plugs into a car’s OBD-II port or lighter outlet. The memory saver stores digital information that typically disappears when a battery is disconnected. It’s ideal for modern cars that use computers for a host of in-cabin controls.

Tools of the Trade

The battery terminal cables are secured in place with nuts and bolts. Thus, among the tools needed to change a car battery are a socket wrench and a pair of pliers to hold the bolt while loosening the nut. Even though not usually needed, a hammer may be useful for gently tapping a persistent terminal cable to help separate it from a post.

Battery Terminal Brush

Once the cables are free, you may find significant amounts of potassium carbonate accumulation. This white powder can impair battery function and should be removed from the connections when swapping out batteries. A battery terminal brush can help eliminate stubborn buildup that won’t easily come off.

Battery Terminal Cleaner

For tough jobs and to prime the posts on the new battery, have some battery terminal cleaner on hand. Use it with a wire brush to remove caked-on detritus. It also acts as a lubricant, so apply a generous amount to the new battery’s posts before connecting the cables.

Miscellaneous Items

The tray holding the battery may need replacement, especially if battery acid has leaked onto it. Also, examine the battery cables closely to ensure that they’re not frayed or broken. It’s not uncommon for the ends to wear out, making it difficult for the battery to receive and maintain a charge. Be ready to replace them if needed.

Battery Disposal

Lastly, once you’re done with connecting the new battery, you’ll need to dispose of the old one. Typically, this involves taking the battery to your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store or to a recycling center that accepts hazardous waste. You can also look into a by-mail recycling or disposal kit. Any way you go, make sure you have a container on hand for transporting the old battery safely.

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

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.


Matthew C. Keegan View All

Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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