A car’s battery is something you’ll have to change at least once in its lifetime, but there’s a whole lot of confusion about what to do with the battery once it’s come out.

Unlike your average household waste, a car’s battery can’t just be thrown out so easily, and it’s up to the car’s owner to dispose of it responsibly.

How do you dispose of a car battery? In the UK, a car’s battery must be taken to a designated recycling facility, car garage, or scrap metal facility if you want to dispose of it.

These batteries contain harmful products that can’t be thrown away with your regular waste so don’t simply put them in with the rubbish.

So that you can be prepared for taking care of your car’s battery and know how to remove it correctly, we’ve created this simple guide to do just that.

We’ll show you how to take the battery out, where you can dispose of it, and the signs you need to know that could indicate it’s time to get a new one.

The Importance of Correct Car Battery Disposal

The Importance of Correct Car Battery Disposal

A car battery isn’t like a regular household battery you might have in your TV remote and it requires a special approach when disposing of one.

The average car battery contains things like acid and lead so it’s not to be dealt with lightly.

In addition to the dangerous contents, a car battery can potentially shock someone or even explore. The battery acid can leak out through holes or when it’s tipped over and burn the skin, or lead to blindness in severe cases.

Therefore, it’s not safe or responsible to throw it away with your household rubbish and you should never attempt to do so.

Safety First When Removing Batteries

Safety First When Removing Batteries

With the potentially dangerous contents that are housed in a car battery, they need to be treated with care.

Whenever you plan on handling one of these batteries, follow these tips to make sure you do it safely.

  • Before you look at the battery for signs of wear and damage, disconnect it from the car entirely.
  • When transporting the battery, check the weight first, and don’t attempt to lift it on your own if it’s a struggle. Dropping the battery is dangerous and isn’t worth the risk.
  • Check the battery for damage by using a torch and look carefully at all areas. You’ll need to look for signs of dents, corrosion, leaks, and marks.
  • If you do find leaks or dents, leave them alone and take the car and battery to a mechanic so a professional can take care of it. While transporting it, keep the battery upright and cover its terminals.
  • Wear gloves if you’re going to touch the battery or any part of the car’s engine, and consider wearing protective clothing. Battery acid is dangerous and can burn the skin so it should never be handled without protection.

How to Disconnect an Old Battery

How to Disconnect the Old One

Learning how to disconnect a car battery is a handy skill to have, but even more important is knowing how to do it safely.

These are the steps to follow to do the job yourself and without help from a mechanic.

  1. Open the hood of the car and keep it up using the safety catch. Look for the battery there and if you can’t find it, it might be located in the back. If you’re unsure, check the owner’s manual of your vehicle and see where to find it.
  2. Find where the positive and negative terminals are on the battery. The positive will be marked with a “+” and the negative a “-“. Remove the plastic caps that are covering these terminals so you can get access to the battery and remove it from the vehicle, as well as the cable clamps that have to be disconnected.
  3. Select the wrench or wrenches that will fit the battery, with sometimes just an open-ended wrench being all you need. The wrench will be used to disconnect the cables that keep the battery attached to the car, so it has to be the right size to maneuver the bolt from them.
  4. Go ahead with your protective gear, including putting on gloves and wearing long sleeves. Double-check that the car’s ignition is off and the key is out.
  5. Unbolt the negative battery cable first and then lift it off to disconnect it. Remove it from the area completely. You don’t want the wrench to be touching both negative and positive terminals otherwise it can create a spark. Then, do the same to unbolt remove the positive cable.
  6. Finally, remove the clamp that holds the battery in place inside the tray. Pull the battery out and store it upright before moving onto the next part.

Disposing of a Car Battery the Right Way

Disposing of a Car Battery the Right Way

Once you’ve completed all of the checks to make sure the battery is safe to get rid of, now you have to decide where and how to do it.

The two options here are to recycle or throw away, and usually, the battery will end up at the same place.

Throwing away a car battery means finding a designated area to do so safely and responsibly.

The best choice is at a car garage, and this may be done for you if a mechanic is changing the battery. Otherwise, there are disposal spots at stores like Halfords or scrap metal facilities.

Before throwing it away, double-check to make sure it’s okay to do so.

Usually, these facilities have their own recycling or disposal program or have partnered up with another organization that does.

If you do choose to recycle, there are a host of ways you can do this and lots of free online resources that can point you towards your closest collection facility.

Ultimately, recycling a battery is better than simply disposing of it, and if you’re able to do this, it’s a greener option and will ensure the parts of the battery can be used again are done so.

Up to 95% of the lead from these batteries can be recovered so it means less strain on resources in the future and it’s simple to do.

Signs That You Need a New Battery

Signs That You Need a New Battery

There’s no obvious way to tell that your car’s battery needs replacing but rather a few signs to look for that give you a hint.

If you notice any of these, it’s worth removing the battery to inspect it further, or taking it to a mechanic who can do it for you.

  • Physical signs on the battery like dents, holes, and corrosion.
  • A bad smell coming from the car can be traced to the battery upon closer inspection.
  • An engine that starts slower than usual or fails to start altogether.
  • Corrosion on the connectors or cables that keep the battery attached to the car.
  • Ongoing electrical issues with the car and noticeably dimmer lights due to a malfunctioning battery.

Play It Safe and Smart With Your Car’s Batteries

When the unavoidable time comes to get a new battery for your car, it’s not just about getting it out, but knowing where to dispose of it safely as well.

Whether you choose to recycle it or throw it away, there are plenty of options for either, so there’s no excuse not to get this one simple task right.

Related Questions

A car’s battery is just one part that needs replacing or repair over the vehicle’s life, so ongoing maintenance and regular servicing are important for keeping everything in check.

If you have more questions about car batteries and what’s required to keep them running, we’ve got the answers to some FAQs that might be able to help.

How Long Can a Car Battery Last Without the Engine On?

How Long Can a Car Battery Last Without the Engine On?

Depending on the condition of the car battery, it should stay in good shape for around two weeks without having to start the car to keep it charged.

If you plan on storing your car for a while, it’s a good idea to still start the engine and run the car for a short amount of time to keep the battery charged.

Does Driving A Car Charge Its Battery?

A car’s battery is charged by the alternator of the car which runs when the engine is on, so it’s important to turn it on every now and then even while in storage.

In theory, the faster the car goes, the faster the battery will be charged, so if you’re hoping to do bring it back to full power in 30 minutes, you’ll need to be driving on a motorway or highway at top speeds.


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