How to Install a Top-Post Car Battery

Installing a battery is a relatively simple job, but needs to be done carefully. Use the video or this guide to safely install a top-post battery on most vehicles.

Use our other guide if you need to change a side-post battery.

How to Change a Car Battery

1. Safety First

Park the vehicle on a dry, flat surface and set the parking brake. The ignition should be off. If the vehicle is warm, give it time to cool before starting the job. Wear safety goggles and gloves. Pull back long hair, don’t wear loose clothing and take off jewelry. Don’t smoke under the hood, especially around the battery.

negative battery cord being held by orange gloves

2. Disconnect Negative and Positive Battery Cables

Start with the negative terminal and disconnect the negative battery cable. Look for a black cable and a minus (-) symbol. You may need to use a ratchet to loosen and remove the clamp. Once the clamp is off, move it safely out of the way.

Disconnect the positive terminal after the negative terminal. Positive terminal has a plus sign (+) and the cable connected to it is usually red.

3. Remove the Clamp and Battery

Many top-post batteries will have a clamp or bar holding the battery in place. This is often secured with a bolt or some other fastener. Remove the clamp in order to remove the battery. Pull the battery out from under the hood and set it off to the side.

orange gloved hands displaying corrosion dust that should be cleaned

4. Clean the Terminals

Look for any corrosion left behind from the old battery. If you see corrosion or dust or dirt or other contaminants, you’ll want to clean that up. Use gloves and a wire brush and wear a mask to avoid breathing dust during this step.

new duralast battery being installed

5. Install the New Battery

Install the new battery securely and install the clamp same as it was before. Securing the battery is important to help it guard against vibration while driving.

hands wearing orange gloves applying washers and dielectric grease

6. Apply Battery Washers and Grease

Once the battery is snug, place washers on the terminals and apply dielectric grease. Some, but not too much. You want to have enough grease to help the terminals make a connection, but not so much that the cables would have a chance to slip off. This will provide better connection for your battery.

7. Connect Positive and Negative Battery Cables

Connect the cables back to the terminal. Start with positive and tighten until snug. Do the same with the negative cable. Do not over-tighten the cables.

8. Test the Vehicle

With both cables connected, try to start the car. Hopefully it fires up, and you’re done. If it doesn’t, wait a few minutes, check the connections, and try again. Do not try to start the car more than three times in ten minutes.

When you’re done, don’t forget to turn in your old battery at AutoZone for core credit.

Looking for a battery? Put in your vehicle on to order a battery for pick up, or stop by your local AutoZone to get help with selecting and installation your new battery. If the job is too big for you, seek out one of our Preferred Shops to help you do the job.

Advice, how-to guides, and car care information featured on and AutoZone Advice & How-To’s are presented as helpful resources for general maintenance and automotive repairs from a general perspective only and should be used at your own risk. Information is accurate and true to the best of AutoZone’s knowledge, however, there may be omissions, errors or mistakes.

Be sure to consult your owner’s manual, a repair guide, an AutoZoner at a store near you, or a licensed, professional mechanic for vehicle-specific repair information. Refer to the service manual for specific diagnostic, repair and tool information for your particular vehicle. Always chock your wheels prior to lifting a vehicle. Always disconnect the negative battery cable before servicing an electrical application on the vehicle to protect its electrical circuits in the event that a wire is accidentally pierced or grounded. Use caution when working with automotive batteries. Sulfuric acid is caustic and can burn clothing and skin or cause blindness. Always wear gloves and safety glasses and other personal protection equipment, and work in a well-ventilated area. Should electrolyte get on your body or clothing, neutralize it immediately with a solution of baking soda and water. Do not wear ties or loose clothing when working on your vehicle.

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