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Your Guide to Disconnecting Your Battery

Your Guide to Disconnecting Your Battery

When you think about the things that make your car work properly you probably think of the engine first. You may not consider your car battery very often, until it goes wrong. The battery is a bit of an unsung hero. It really has one main job: to get your car started. But if it is unable to do that job, you could find yourself in serious trouble.

The strain on the battery and the severity of the problem if the battery is weak is even higher for vehicles with stop-start function, as the engine is continually being stopped and started again. In this series, we look at what you need to know about your battery.

For many road users, the thought of having to disconnect your car battery may be completely alien; far before that point, you will have taken your car to your local garage to have it looked at. While replacing a car battery is a relatively simple process that can be done by someone other than a skilled mechanic, more often than not it is a good idea to leave the job to the professionals. However, you may want to disconnect your battery if you are planning on going on holiday for a prolonged period of time, if you notice that you have an electrical fault that means your battery is draining quickly and you want to preserve it until you can get it to the garage, or you are parked up on a campsite in a van and don’t want to drain your battery with opening and closing doors.

Before you disconnect your battery, take a look at your vehicle manual as it will give you instructions that relate specifically to your make and model.

  1. Locate the battery – most batteries are under the bonnet but if you can’t find it there, look in your boot or under seats.
  2. Turn everything off – make sure that lights, radio, automatic wipers etc are all turned off. Unless otherwise specified in the manual, make sure the ignition is off, and remove the key (for manual keys, failure to do this can result in the key being locked in the ignition).
  3. Disconnect the negative terminal. Remove the plastic cover from the battery; you should be able to see two cables running into the battery. One of these is negative and the other is positive. It is important that you disconnect the negative first, as it can hold charge and can cause a short if it comes in contact with metal (e.g. car body, engine parts or a spanner). Loosen the fastener on the negative terminal, and pull the clamp free.
  4. Disconnect the positive terminal – repeat the same process, making sure that the positive and negative terminals don’t come in contact with each other.
  5. Remove battery – if you are removing the battery, you can now do so safely. If you are just disconnecting it, it is a good idea to cover the terminals with non-conductive material to keep them protected.

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