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Changing a Vehicle Battery

Most new and used cars on our roads have modern batteries fitted, they generally tend to be long lasting and reliable, making those initial start-up troubles a thing of the past. However, all batteries will still eventually start to fail as they approach the end of their life span.

Batteries recharge as you drive, so making a lot of short trips is very tough on your vehicle’s battery. Cold weather can also affect the battery performance.

Car BatteriesTo prolong the life of your battery, consider getting a trickle charger to keep it charged while your car is parked overnight, or planning to store the vehicle for a long period without driving it. But all this care can amount to nothing if you run the battery down by accidentally leaving the vehicle lights on once parked up for the night!

As well as powering the entire electrical system, the battery is also used for starting the vehicle. While a failing battery might make it difficult to start-up, a flat one means your car won’t start at all. Your options here are to replace the battery altogether, recharge it using a mains powered charger, or jump start it using jump cables from another vehicle. You can also ‘bump’ or push start a manual car by rolling it forward in gear with the clutch engaged. Once the car is running, it’s a good idea to take it for a long drive so the battery can recharge, if the battery is in good condition, this should fix the problem.

It’s worth changing the battery if starting your car continues to be a struggle. If the battery won’t hold its charge, then it’s most probably time for a new one as an insurance policy against getting caught out by a dead battery.

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Changing a battery is usually a straightforward job, and you should be able to do it yourself. Batteries are easily available to buy from the motor trade, and your garage will be able to advise you on what to get. Before you start, make sure your vehicle is parked up with the handbrake on and the ignition off. Keep the keys with you, as removing the battery can activate central locking. Your car’s manual should tell you where the battery is located, usually under the bonnet.

The battery has a positive and negative terminal, these are marked with plus and minus signs. The positive cable is likely to be red, and the negative black. It’s very important that you remove the cables in the correct order, negative first. You’ll need a screwdriver or a spanner for this, depending on the type of fastener used. You may also need to clean the battery tray and the connectors before you fit the new battery. Once it’s in position, reconnect the positive terminal, followed by the negative, then make sure the connections are not loose.

You might find that some of the vehicle systems, like the clock, radio and sat nav, have lost their settings and will need reprogramming, but once this is done, you’re good to go again!