How to Change a Car Battery

By: Josh Clark & Talon Homer  | 

Tools Needed to Change a Car Battery

tool box
You won't even need a tool box as replete as this one to change your battery. Just a couple of wrenches or pliers and a hammer will do.
Jeffrey Coolidge/Getty Images

You want to fix your car battery yourself, but don't jump the gun just yet. Get the proper tools together before going under your car's hood.

If you've already created the baking soda and water solution you need to clean your terminals, keep it handy. You'll want to give the terminal cables a more thorough cleaning. If not, then go ahead and whip up a batch and drop a clean paintbrush into it for later.


Break out your toolbox and select a few of the tools you'll need. The battery terminal cables are held fast around the battery terminals by nuts and bolts. This means you'll need a crescent wrench, an adjustable wrench, vise pliers or a socket wrench. Most battery terminals will come with either 10 mm or 12 mm (0.4 or 0.5 inches) socket-sizes. Grab another pair of adjustable pliers to hold the bolt head in place as well.

It may sound funny, but you'll also want to bring a hammer with you. A gentle tap or two can help loosen a stubborn terminal cable from the terminal post.

It's also a good idea to invest in a battery terminal cleaner. This handy and inexpensive tool is designed to brush away corrosion from the terminal posts and the end clamp of the cables. It also primes the posts of your new battery for a better connection to the terminal cables. If you have a good narrow metal wire brush, that can do the trick as well. While you're picking up a terminal cleaner, spring for a can of corrosion protector, which will help prevent corrosive sulfate buildup in the future.

Lastly, bring along a pair of sturdy gloves and safety goggles. Batteries can be dangerous, (as we'll see in the next pages) and protecting your hands and eyes is a good idea. Also keep some rags or cloth handy to wipe up mess, and a plastic container to organize your tools.

Got everything together? Good. It's time to go outside again.