When removing a car battery, the first step is to disconnect the battery cables. The negative cable should always be disconnected first, and re-connected last.
If your wrench is on the positive terminal and it accidentally touches anything metal, you will short circuit the battery. The voltage isn't harmful, but the sudden unexpected sparks will startle the $hit out of you, and could even burn you. There is so much current (amperage) available that your wrench literally becomes an arc welder.
If you disconnect the negative cable first, and reconnect it last, then the car is not electrically connected to the negative battery terminal. After that you can disconnect the positive battery terminal with minimal risk, because if your wrench touches any metal parts of the car there is no complete circuit, and nothing happens. The only risk comes from touching the other (i.e. negative) battery terminal.
While connecting or disconnecting the negative cable, you don't need to worry about the wrench touching metal parts of the car, because everything is at the same electrical potential. You only need to keep the wrench from touching the positive battery terminal. That's easy.
Disconnecting A Battery WithSide Terminals:
Side-terminal batteries, common on General Motors products, require a small socket or wrench to remove the battery cables.This used a 5/16" socket.
Next: disconnecting the positive battery cable.If that wrench touches something metal, there will be no short circuit
The positive battery cable may be red, and the negative cable is normally black.
Don't judge by the cables... look at the markings on the battery.many cars with black cables connected to the positive terminal. I'm guessing that the automaker used black-insulated wire because it's a bit cheaper than red.
Even more confusing, I've seen a red cable connecting the negative battery terminal. I think this happened because somebody replaced a negative battery cable and used red-coated wire... perhaps because they didn't have any black cable handy. No automaker in their right mind would deliberately use a red wire for the ground wiring.
The industry standard with automotive wiring is Black = Ground (which is negative), and Red = Hot (which is positive).
This can be confusing when compared with wire used in buildings, where black (and other colors) are hot, and white is neutral, which has the same potential as ground.
Disconnecting A Battery With Top Terminals:
This battery was installed less than two years ago, yet it's already covered in dirt.
Dirt on the surface of a car battery can create a pathway for a tiny amount of electricity to flow between the terminals. Eventually this minor current flow can cause the battery to become drained down.
To prevent the radio from losing its preset stations, try using this 12 volt portable power supply to keep power supplied to the car while the battery is removed.connected the black alligator clip to the engine, and the red clip to the positive battery cable.
loosened the negative battery clamp with a 1/2" wrench.I think most domestic cars require a 1/2" wrench for the battery terminal clamps.
Often the battery cable won't come off. DON'T twist the clamp, you might damage the battery terminal.
Normally I use a pair of prybars to pry open the soft lead battery cable end...
A Better Way:
The arms (arrow) go underneath the cable end clamp, and the center pushes against the terminal post on the battery.Turn the handle and the cable end clamp lifts right up.
Then the battery cable can be pulled away.
Be careful... since the cable is so thick it often tries to spring back to its former position.
It's a good idea to clean the battery cable ends and terminals with a wire brush. The terminals and cable ends are made from lead, which corrodes readily. Corrosion can increase the resistance of the electrical connection, which can prevent the battery from charging properly. Corroded battery connectors can create so much voltage drop that the car's starter motor cranks slowly or not at all.
Under the cap there is (or was) a round brush to clean the inside surface of the cable end clamp.
Even though this is mangled, it still works okay.
The bottom has this nasty-looking circular wire brush.
pushed the tool over the battery terminal while turning it.This took about half a minute.
Battery Terminals Get Corroded:
Before cleaning with battery brush after cleaning with battery brush.
Removing The Battery:
Once the cables had been disconnected, you could take the battery out of the truck.But first to remove the battery hold-down backet. There were two very long bolts (red arrow) that secured the bracket to the body of the truck.
This Dodge Dakota required an 11mm socket to remove the hold-down bolts.
Then remove the clamping bracket.
lifted out the battery with the built-in strap. Otherwise this is a two-handed job.Car batteries are heavy! This thing must weigh about 40 pounds.
No Battery Hold-Down Clamp?
A bungee cord or tie-down strap should work if the original clamp is missing.
Cleaning The Battery:
sprayed some diluted Simple Green on the battery and used a small nylon brush to scrub the dirt and oily residue.Any household cleaner should work here.
rinsed off the battery with a garden hose.
used a Sharpie Metallic marker to highlight the raised letters on the battery. This will make it easier to read when I'm jump-starting someone's car on a cold dark winter night.
Installing And Re-Connecting The Battery:
applied some dielectric grease to the battery terminals and spread it around with my finger.meanwhile applied a thin film of dielectric grease to the inside surface of the battery cable ends.
connected the positive battery cable first, and tightened the clamping nut with a 1/2" wrench. Don't tighten too much... the soft lead cable end can be damaged.Lastly, re-connected the negative cable.
A clean battery with clean connections will provide the greatest possible cranking power on cold winter mornings.
I think it's a good idea to do this battery maintenace once a year, preferably before cold weather sets in.
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