Car Care Vol. 1: Changing Your Car Battery

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A man is biting his nails while staring at a car battery, an important step in car maintenance.

Being able to change your battery and perform other car maintenance is something that everyone should be able to do, not only as a basic life skill but as a test of your fortitude and belief in a higher power. In order to change your car battery, first, grab it by the tail to get a firm hold on it––this will cause it some distress, so gently stroke its underbelly to relax it. Once its venomous spines relax and lay flat again, then disconnect the forward and rear oscillator from the ionic capacitor, and you’re halfway there.

Whatever you do, at this point, Do Not Let Go Of Its Tail! I cannot stress enough the importance of this––yes it means you’re going to need to do everything else with just one hand. This is why a lot of people have a friend or family member help them with changing a car battery, especially if you’ve never done it before. As you get more experience with this process, it will become easier, and you’ll get a better sense of the overall mood and disposition of your battery while changing it. If, at any time, it should get you with the stinger at the end of its forepaws, you’re going to need to see a physician as soon as possible.

In the meantime, pour some goat’s milk and Kentucky bourbon onto the site of the injury.

Step One – Get to Know Your Battery

A car battery with a nametag is next to a man with his hand outstretched for a handshake.

The very first thing you’re going to want to do when changing your car battery is to get to know it and figure out exactly what you’re dealing with. One thing that a lot of people don’t understand is that no two car batteries are alike – every single one of them is different from the rest and completely unique. This means that you’re going to need to figure out some important details about the type of battery you have, in order to determine how to properly change it.

First, take a good look at your car battery: notice its texture and color, listen to it to hear how it purrs or snores and try to gently tickle it if at all possible to see how it responds. All of these things are going to give you a lot of information about exactly what sort of battery you’re dealing with. Once you have these answers, then grab your copy of Gullywerk’s Guide to Automotive Anatomy––personally, I think the old Fourteenth Edition is the best one and had the simplest tables for looking up battery specs and guidelines.

If you can’t find a Fourteenth Edition, which is very possible since it’s out of print, then try to get either the Third Edition from 1844 or the Twenty-Seventh Edition from 1975. Both of those are also quite user-friendly and provide a number of charts and explanations that are still as useful today as they were when first published. If you absolutely have to use the current edition of Gullywerk’s Guide, then I strongly recommend you look up a conversion chart for the information and analytic tables that can be found on pages 117 to 341. Without a conversion chart, the current edition is very difficult to read and fully understand.

If you’ve failed all of that, you can take your car to a shop, and they’ll figure it out for you, but that’s kind of like admitting defeat, don’t you think?

Step Two – The Proper Tools

Three Victorian men are in front of cars in a shop.

You’re also going to need to have the right equipment and setup for changing the battery in your vehicle––just like you need the proper tools for any kind of car maintenance. You’re going to be tempted to grab a couple screwdrivers, maybe some pliers, a lug wrench or two, and call it a day. This is a crucial mistake that gets a lot of new car mechanics killed, or worse. The last thing you want to do is find yourself holding a screwdriver when your car battery starts hissing and lunging at you with its turgid proboscis.

Get yourself a good, sturdy drop cloth, preferably one treated with stain-resistant chemicals. It’s going to get blood on it; there’s no avoiding that, so you want to make sure it’s easy to clean. Then dress for the occasion. A lot of people don’t realize that a car battery really appreciates seeing you in high fashion; wearing a tuxedo or Victorian-era dress can make changing your car battery a lot easier.

Step Three – Preparing for the Procedure

A silhouette of a couple are looking onto a baby being born.

It’s very important that you’re prepared, as best as you possibly can, for the extreme physical and emotional demands of changing your car battery. While you cannot ever be fully equipped to handle what’s about to happen to you, the readier you are, the better. By reading this, you’re already getting a leg up on a lot of other people, and I applaud your desire to be informed about what you can expect.

If you can find a video of your own birth, then I strongly recommend watching that as the first step in preparing for what’s to come. Falling short of that, you might consider polishing off a bottle of wine while reading Finnegan’s Wake or eating an extraordinary amount of cheese after 2 or 3 in the morning. Any of these options should work fairly well, and afterward, you’ll have a much greater sense of what you’re in for with the automotive care you’re about to undertake.

Step Four – Foundations in Automotive Analytics

Right about now, you’re probably questioning everything––that’s good, that’s the state of mind you want to be in before attempting to replace your car battery. Among the questions you likely have are some regarding my credentials and expertise when it comes to car maintenance and similar topics. While I do not feel the need to divulge all of my experience, nor do you deserve to view the full, voluminous splendor of my curriculum vitae, I will offer a few morsels of information.

My schooling in the car business began at the age of seven when I wandered onto the lot of a local car dealership. There I learned at the feet of the great master, Wolfheim Von Albruch, the first man to ever sell 100 cars in 100 days. He taught me everything I know about car maintenance and the auto industry, and so much more. By the age of 24, I had become an industry insider and began writing about my experiences within the auto trade. Today, I’m known as the last true beacon of honesty and integrity in the field of car journalism.

Also, legends say I was conceived, quite improbably, in the backseat of a 1954 Nash Rambler.

Step Five – Engorging the Primary Dampers

By this point, you’re fully prepared for the task at hand, and it’s time to change the battery of your car. If you go back to the first paragraph of this bold tutorial, you’ll find everything you need to get the job done. Just remember: be brave, act with confidence (car batteries can taste your fear), and approach it from downwind to avoid alerting it to your presence. With that, you have taken your first steps into adulthood and the joys of car care.

Editor’s Note: We followed all of these steps, with a team of six people, and one of us still got stung by the car battery. Unfortunately, we could only track down a Fifty-Second edition of Gullywerk’s Guide to Automotive Anatomy, and we fear that led us to attempt the battery replacement using an improper stance. Once our associate regains control over the left side of his body and hopefully stops frothing at the nose, we’ll give it another go. Thank you.

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