Momma Mechanic: How to Change a Car Battery

Dead battery on car, I need to know how to change a car battery. When it comes to car maintenance I am not a momma mechanic but I am not mechanically challenged either. My father was a mechanic most of his life. Tim, my brother has always tinkered and taken things apart, only to put them back together again. Sometimes better than they initially worked. My husband is a Jack-of-all-trades with both our home and vehicles. Our son, Kyle is certified Aircraft mechanic with the Marine Corps. Fixing things seems to come natural in my family. How to change a car battery on my own cannot be too tough…

Monday Morning Mayhem

Oh what a beautiful Monday morning! Getting ready to start the week at my job I have had for 26 years now. Looking forward to the fact that my co-worker is now back from her Spring Break getaway to Miami. This means I can get my own work caught up. But first I will need to get the Monday morning report out to everyone’s inboxes.

Heading out to the vehicles

It’s 6 am and time to go. As Hubby and I head to the garage and say good-bye to each other, wishing each other to have a great day. I get into my good old reliable Durango. Well, she isn’t THAT old, but she is paid off so we like that we are helping our budget with just one car payment right now. She isn’t in perfect condition, but at 150,000 miles would you be?

So as I situate my purse and bag with my lunch inside on the front passenger seat I go to start the Durango. Now I have a push button ignition so I do not have to keep my keys in hand. Click. That’s it. That’s all I heard. I try again. Click. Interior lights came on, headlights are on. One more time. Click. UGH!! I panic and look at my husband. He has a job interview after work today (UPDATE: He got that job!). We do NOT need this happening right now. Even though David knows how to change a car battery, he won’t be able to help much.

And Monday Morning Mayhem Commences

While I hop out of the Durango having popped the hood dearest Hubby has already grabbed the battery charger. Like I said before he is mechanically talented and loves to have lots of Man Tools. He has hooked up the battery charger and sets it to jump start. Tells me to try it. Click. We try again and again. No luck.

I decide to text Kyle and get his opinion. Could it be the alternator? His reply was simply “Battery has no juice”. We decide to leave the battery charger on 10 amps to slowly try to charge the battery. My instructions: Try starting it again in an hour. Yeah….Click.

Things are Looking Up For this Momma Mechanic

So as I head back into the house I decide the Lord has given me this time to put a bit of time in myself and do some reflecting and maybe start a page on not letting a “Monday” ruin my day or week. After starting my newest page about my story, our youngest son, Kory came home from work. It’s now 7:30 am, 90 minutes for that charger to work it’s magic.

Bringing Kory up to date as to happenings of the day. The 3 dogs are ecstatic, not only has their Boy come home from work, but Mom is still here! They thought they would be having a day of spoiling. How wrong they are.

So anyways, back out to the garage Kory and I go to try it one last time before he drives me up to the auto store. And guess what?! It started! Amazing Grace it was a sweet sweet sound! But knowing this battery is the original from 2011 and its 8 years later, getting a new battery was a must-have. I am going to have to learn how to change a car battery.

Buying the Battery – Not a Big Deal, Right?

So in I walk to the auto parts store. As the door closes behind me, I realize that I just shut off my Durango. Sure hope it starts up again. The sales gal behind the counter helps me, especially when I say that oldest son, Kyle works for the overall company and used to beat that location.

We get him on the phone and he helps Momma save some serious money on the battery. I guess he was worth raising after all – just kidding! As we walk out the door, this sales gal and I with battery in hand, I ask if she could help install it.


I pop the hood and we quickly realize the battery is not in the engine compartment. We start looking all around the front seats and find a trap door underneath the front passenger seat. YIKES! Do I have to remove the seat to install a simple battery? Sales gal now informs me she isn’t permitted to do these installs when they are inside the vehicle.

Back inside we go. She is calling a local mechanic to see if he can get me in quick. No go. He is enroute to picking up another vehicle and won’t be back until late afternoon. This Momma mechanic just picks up her big girl pants and heads for home to do it herself. She is going to learn how to change a car battery. Did I mention that they see on the computer at the auto parts store “Professional Installation Required”. Mandisa’s song, “Overcomer” comes to mind. I am a warrior! I got this!

Oh Kyle! Text your Mother Back…PLEASE!

Yeah I got home with my new battery trying to figure out how in the world I am going to do this. I mean, seriously, my Dad was a mechanic, my husband David and my brother Tim are handy. And I have 1 son who was a mechanic for fighter jets. Of course HE is in South Carolina. Over 20 hours travel time away. Nope, this Momma Mechanic is on her own – well, Kory is home at least if I need him. But he doesn’t care for the mechanical side of things.

So I start to text Kyle for assistance from a distance. He replies. Oh thank the Lord! He sends me not just a text. He sends me an entire string of videos that walks me through every step! Happy Dance! But first we have some work to do.

How to Change a Car Battery Safely

So first things first, safety equipment. OK, alright. Laugh if you want to, but I’m a Momma first. Besides my eyes and my fingers are how I make my money! I needed safety glasses and a pair of insulated gloves. Found both…on the kitchen table, of course. By the way our table is just like yours, a catch-all for everything.

Now I start watching the first video, it actually recommended safety goggles and gloves by the way. Car Care Kiosk is an amazing site! The video is so amazingly clear and precise. And extremely Momma friendly! So we located the battery by folding the front passenger seat down and moving it all the way forward. This reveals a hidden door underneath the seat that is easiest accessed from the backseat.

I Spy With My Little Eye

All I had to do to open the hidden door was lift. Doesn’t get much simpler. Now, keep in mind I am accessing this from the back seat. I am pretty much in a position that is somewhat laying down and squatting to get in to the access area.

Alright, now that the door is out of the way, it is time for the next video. It says to remove the bracket. Ok well how hard can that be? Well first I need find this bracket. Now in my woman’s way of thinking a bracket is to hold something in place and it should therefore be on top of or around the battery. Right?

Time out: Is this Important?

Do you see this do-hickey thingamajig? While I am moving things out of my way in this tight area I am working in, when “something” came loose. Sent another text to Kyle. This is “just a vent tube”. Well if he isn’t worried, neither am I.

Continuing on the search for this mysterious bracket now that I have a little more room. Low and behold! When I crank my neck inside this little cave I spy 2 very long bolts! Could it be that I have found the elusive bracket? I don’t see a bracket, but these bolts are holding something down. Like any good mechanic, let’s remove the nuts and see what happens.

Okay, had I actually watched the entire video, I would have seen that the bracket was actually a plate, down at the BOTTOM of this crevice I am having to crowd myself into.

Everything is going good now that the bracket is out of my way.

Now that it was out of my way, I find the bracket and it’s bolts easily. Removing the nuts was harder than I thought because of the angle I was in. Oh and did the little book that comes with the Durango tell me what size socket I needed? NO! It is a good thing I am familiar with David’s toolbox and somewhat familiar with sockets. Only a couple trips back and forth for the right socket and then another trip to the toolbox for the deep socket size.

I need the deep socket because the bolts are longer than the normal socket. Then I go back for the extension because the bolt and nut are down in the hole. So yet another fun angle.

Keeping a Charge

Now before I removed or even touched the terminals, I see on the video that I need to hook a battery charger on to the battery. I need to keep a constant flow of electricity going to the Durango so that I have less re-setting of controls as I unhook the battery. The scariest part for me was knowing which one, black or red, to hook up first.

For this part I open the hood and where a car battery is normally located and see a large bolt thing without the threads. I follow the directions and put the red clamp of the battery charger on that. This is the positive cable. Then I hook the black clamp on to the negative cable, or from my perspective the ground to protect me. I turn on the battery charger. Back to work inside my little portal.

Removing the Terminals

So up to this point it was pretty much prep work to remove the terminals. I am no longer watching the complete videos. Because I have confidence. This Momma Mechanic knows how to change a car battery. And all I have to do now is remove the terminals. How hard can that be?

Momma Mechanic turned Pirate – the Language got a bit Salty

First of all the nuts for every step are different sizes. Second the video is no longer helpful, I know what I need to do but the stupid thing Just. Won’t. Come. Loose. Third did I mention how tiny of a hole it is that I am working in? I think it may even be shrinking. Like on a time limit for staying open. A shrinking black hole.

Now for those of you who don’t know me well, my language can make a grown man shrivel….sometimes. When you have German, Scottish and Irish in your blood, the temper can be somewhat uncontrollable. Now to lighten the mood and so you can giggle (or outright laugh) at my frustrations see the below text exchange between myself and our oldest son.

I never thought I would have an exchange like that when he was a little guy. Now he’s an adult (that thing he calls a beard I guess proves it). At least he has some great mechanical skills that even via texting can teach Mom! Oh and those safety glasses I needed at the beginning of the job? They fog up and get warm. The gloves? They are now tossed. On the garage floor. I may pick them up later. For now I need to get this done and get to my job!

Terminals are Terminated – The End is in Sight!

You have no idea how amazing it feels to get a battery fully disconnected. And yet at the same time be so irritated at the stupid battery terminal that was NEVER TIGHTENED DOWN! I literally spent 10 minutes or more using the socket wrench trying to get the bolt to stay still and get the nut to turn. Just to have the terminal merely lift off the battery.

Ok now that I have the battery completely disconnected, time to lift it out. Who am I kidding? Giving this a few tugs and only moving it a teeny tiny bit in this culvert in my Durango. I knew I was not going to be able to lift the thing out on my own. This is why I have 2 yes TWO sons! Kory is in the house, wanting to go to bed since he worked all night. But you see he is a smart boy. He knew enough to not just stay awake, but stay fully dressed too.

Mr. Muscles to the Rescue!

There is a proven benefit of having a son who enjoys Crossfit. Because he has muscles! So I recruit my youngest son to assist me, his mother in the garage for the exchange of batteries. Do you know how much an SUV battery weighs? Only about 50 pounds of dead weight. I will admit to a tiny bit of glee as I watched Kory get his 6 ft plus svelte body down onto the floor of the Durango and struggled to tug the battery out. And as he slid the new battery in place I knew I had done what most women won’t attempt – learn how to change a battery in a car.

Final Lap! I Know How to Change a Car Battery!

Success! Let the Happy dance commence! But first I crawl into the back seat for a final time and place the terminals back on to the battery, re-insert the bracket, tighten it all down, and even replace the trap door. And my job here is finished. I have taught myself how to change a car battery. Even more, I did the almost impossible task of putting all the tools away and in their proper locations. The safety goggles and the too big and bulky gloves are back on the kitchen table. Change back into my office clothes and in my Durango. I am headed down the highway to my full-time job.

It is a feeling of great accomplishment. No task will ever be daunting. I know I am blessed to be able to follow instructions – that is something not many can do. So very blessed my Dad took time to explain basic tool use to me. Because tonight I will sit back with a glass of wine from my Wine Club and ponder my accomplishment of how to change a car battery and dream my next achievement. There is no stopping me now!