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Should I Install a Car Battery Myself?

January 18th, 2013 by
Replacing your car battery yourself? You might want to think again.

Going to install a car battery yourself? You might want to think again.

I grew up in the era of “do-it-yourself.”There are many reasons I did it myself, mostly tied to economics and family tradition. Still, there were always a few things I would not tackle due to lack of training or proper tools. Like many “do-it-yourselfers,” I have made some costly mistakes. Many people would consider a battery replacement a DIY project. But you should consider a few things before deciding to install a car battery.

In today’s high-tech vehicles, with all of the new electronically complex computer systems, the battery and charging/starting systems are designed to work closer together. This may include battery temperature, adjusted or adaptive charging and special sensing.

The Battery and the Electrical System

Many BMWs have been engineered to create an elaborate bond between the vehicle’s battery, the charging system and the vehicle’s computer. The computer has been designed to adapt the charging input characteristics as the battery ages and its internal resistance changes. If the computer system is not instructed that a new battery is installed in the vehicle, the computer system will think the battery requires different charging parameters and a problem can exist with effectively recharging the new battery and even trigger a code.

Some GM pickups have an issue that may occur when the battery is not changed properly: an HVAC door will not operate correctly due to possible spikes that can occur during the battery replacement. Once the battery is replaced, the customer or do-it-yourselfer finds the HVAC isn’t allowing the AC to function through the proper vent.

Several vehicles require a backup battery (keep-alive) so the preset selections (seats, radios and driveability) are not affected negatively. A good friend of mine decided he would change his battery on his Dodge van. No big deal, right? Wrong! He disconnected the battery without using a keep-alive memory saver and replaced the battery. He changed many batteries in the past, so there was no real thought as to any problems occurring simply by changing the battery.

He restarted the vehicle and his 16-year-old son began hitting the radio buttons to select his favorite station. Oops! The radio did not operate again until the local dealership worked on the vehicle. And you wouldn’t want to be like the gentleman who decided to use a 9-volt battery as a memory saver. The 9-volt battery was not sufficient to provide DC power for his electronic accessories. About $1,500 later, he made the decision that next time the battery would be changed by a professional.

A do-it-yourself person may physically change the battery without knowing all of the facts around what used to be a simple process. It could be as simple as the vehicle’s computer having to relearn the vehicle or as problematic as reflashing the computer through a professional.

Did You Know?

The owner’s manual normally doesn’t offer insight into all of the problems that may occur when simply changing a battery. As vehicles continue to become more electronically complicated, certified auto technicians are prepared to install the battery for them.

Interstate Batteries® is proud to be the brand preferred 5 to 1 by professional auto technicians. Find an Interstate Batteries dealer near you.

By Gale Kimbrough (11 Posts)

As Manager of Interstate Batteries’ Engineering and Technical Services Group, Gale Kimbrough oversees technical training, product engineering, testing and validating electrical/electronic components.

Posted in Automotive, Maintenance, Technology, Tips
Tags: , ,

Gary Puntman
Gary Puntman

My dad installed a batter for me.  I think you can do it yourself if you know what you are doing.  I don't know very much about cars, so I don't think it would be a good idea for me to install it myself.


Hi A good post that will make some people think twice about fitting their own battery. Although i think that this will be a few years away yet (we will still have mixed battery types).

Thanks  eric roberts

Frank's Tire & Automotive
Frank's Tire & Automotive

good article, reposting some of it, too many DIY's end up making things worse for themselves

Frank's Tire & Automotive
Frank's Tire & Automotive

good article, reposting some of it, too many DIY's end up making things worse for themselves

About The Outrageously Dependable Blog

Interstate Batteries® sells more than 16,000 kinds of batteries—from AA alkalines and automotive batteries to critical power solutions, and everything in between. Combine professional battery services, recycling programs and the largest battery distribution network in North America, and you’ll find Interstate has EVERY BATTERY FOR EVERY NEED®. Learn more about Interstate Batteries or shop online!

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