You already know that your car battery won’t last forever. But in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s easy to forget that. Until you turn the key and nothing happens, that is. Routine maintenance can help you stay ahead of the curve and catch a dying battery before it’s dead. With this brief guide, you learn how to check and replace your car battery plus other great tips for battery care.

AutoZone Free Car Battery Check

When’s the last time you tested your battery? If you’re struggling to remember, maybe it’s time for a checkup. Batteries generally last between three and five years, depending on your driving habits and how you care for your vehicle. Keep in mind that several things can deplete this power cell more quickly:

  • Frequent short driving trips
  • Loose or corroded terminal connections
  • Extreme hot or cold weather
  • Leaving your lights on
  • Alternator recharging issues

Fortunately, you have some options when it comes to battery testing. Auto parts retailers like AutoZone offer free battery testing. You don’t need an appointment, and you simply need to take your vehicle during normal store hours. If you prefer to check your battery at home, you can do so with a multimeter – which you can find at part stores like AutoZone.

How To Replace Your Car Battery

Changing out your car battery is also easy, provided you have the right tools. Before you start, park your vehicle on a flat surface and wait for it to cool down. Meanwhile, don’t forget to wear safety gloves and goggles. Most replacements require a few simple steps:

  • Disconnect the negative cable first. It’s usually black and marked with a minus sign.
  • Next, remove the positive red cable from the corresponding terminal.
  • Remove any clamps holding your battery in place.
  • Carefully lift the old battery out of its tray and set it aside.
  • Clean any debris or corrosion from the tray and post connectors.
  • Place the new battery inside your vehicle.
  • Place your washers back on the terminals and apply dielectric grease to each one.
  • Connect your new battery’s positive post first, followed by the negative.

If your vehicle starts normally after installing your battery, you’re good to go.

Battery Shopping Tips

You have many kinds of batteries to choose from, so how do you pick the best one? A complete list is too exhaustive to include here, but let’s look at a Duralast battery as an example. Duralast batteries come in three different styles: standard, Gold and Platinum. Selecting one that best meets your needs isn’t rocket science: You just need to consider your typical driving conditions. For instance, Duralast Gold comes with a three-year warranty plus up to 1,000 cold cranking amps – ideal for consistent power during extreme cold.

Battery shopping should be fairly easy if you know what to look for. Most auto parts retailers let you search by your vehicle’s make, model, year and subtype., Some also provide a VIN lookup to precisely identify your vehicle. These searches are the best way to narrow down the correct car battery choices. Don’t forget to shop at a reputable auto parts retailer.