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Exposure to used car batteries can be very dangerous to people and the environment. Because of this, it’s important to dispose of your car battery properly. In this article, we’ll focus on the typical lead-acid battery used by most modern cars with internal combustion engines.

How To Dispose of a Car Battery

If you’re unsure of what to do with your old car batteries, then it’s best to leave it to a professional. However, you can also replace your battery if you want to do it yourself. Follow these steps for a quick and easy DIY:

Wear Protective Gear

First, be sure to protect your skin from toxic battery acid by wearing protective gear. Wear long sleeves, pants, and safety gloves. Contact with battery acid can lead to severe skin damage, so it’s best to keep exposed skin to a minimum.

You can also wear a mask to protect yourself from any toxic fumes. If you don’t have a mask, then it’s best to work outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.

man disposing a car battery
You can take your used car battery straight to a recycling company, where they are broken down into raw materials.

Disconnect the Battery

Before you can remove your car battery, you’ll have to disconnect it first. Open the hood, and locate your car battery. Use an open-ended wrench to loosen your battery’s negative terminal, which is usually the black one, before disconnecting it. Then, do the same for the positive cable.

See also  How to Tell Positive and Negative Terminals on a Car Battery

Be careful not to let your wrench touch the positive and negative terminals at the same time. Even if your battery is dead, it might still have enough energy to electrocute you.

Remove and Replace the Battery

Most car batteries have a strap or bracket that secures them in place. Be sure to remove that first before pulling the battery from your car. Batteries are heavy, so be ready to lift with your legs.

With the old battery out of the way, you can now place your new battery in its slot. Connect the battery with the positive terminal first, and then connect the negative terminal. Then, secure the battery’s strap or bracket before closing the hood.

Where to Dispose Old Car Batteries

Now, it’s time to throw away your old battery. Place it in a heavy-duty plastic bag before bringing it to an auto shop or recycling depot of your choice. While transporting it, make sure to always keep it upright to prevent any acid from leaking.

Unsure of where to dispose of old car batteries? There are actually several options you can choose from.

Auto Shop

Most auto shops offer battery replacement services. After they replace your old battery with a new one, they usually dispose of the old one for you. It varies depending on the auto shop, but most of them ship the batteries to a recycling company.

Recycling Depot

You can also take your used battery straight to a recycling company. Recycling companies take used car batteries and break them down into raw materials. Manufacturing companies buy these raw materials and then make new products with them.

Battery Retailer

If you bought your new battery from a retailer, then you can also give them your old battery. Most retailers have drop-off points where you can dispose of your used battery. However, keep in mind that some locations only accept certain types of batteries. It’s best to call ahead and check which drop-off points will accept your used car battery.

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Scrap Metal Recycling Centers

Scrap metal depots will accept most types of scrap metal, including your old car battery. Some might even pay you for your battery and any other old metals you drop off.

Why You Should Dispose of Car Batteries Properly

Most states have specific laws that prohibit you from throwing away used car batteries with your other trash. This is because car batteries are hazardous waste. They contain metals and other toxic materials that can harm the environment.

Batteries that aren’t thrown away properly will most likely end up in landfills. They can leak and  contaminate the soil, making it toxic for plants and animals. Battery acid can also cause fires, which can release toxic chemicals in the air.

Thankfully, almost all parts of a battery can be recycled. Recycling companies melt and filter the lead, plastic, and sulfuric acid of a battery and turn them into raw materials.

How Does a Car Battery Work?

Most modern internal combustion vehicles use lead-acid batteries, which power the car’s starter motor and ignition system by turning chemical energy into electricity.  

Most batteries have six cells inside the plastic casing. Each cell contains a lead dioxide plate and a lead plate that are submerged in sulfuric acid. The sulfuric acid triggers a chemical reaction between the plates to generate enough electricity to start your car.

car battery with toxic waste
Car batteries are hazardous waste because they contain metals and other toxic materials that can harm the environment.

How Often Should You Replace Car Batteries? 

In general, most car batteries will last three to four years. This can change depending on several factors, such as your car’s make, model, and how often you drive. Leaving your key in the ignition and driving in areas with hot weather can also drain your battery life faster.

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When To Replace Your Car Battery

If your car takes too long to start, then it might be a sign of a dying battery. Dimming interior lights and headlights can also mean it’s time to change your battery. Cracked, corroded, or damaged batteries should also be replaced immediately

Replacement costs will depend on your car’s make, model, and the product’s brand, but most car batteries cost around $60 to $530.

Where to Get a New Car Battery

A faulty car battery is a real hassle to deal with. Starting your car becomes much more difficult if your battery can’t hold a charge. That’s why it’s a good idea to replace a faulty car battery as soon as you can. Thankfully, you have CarParts.com to turn to.

CarParts.com is easy to navigate and browse through. Our built-in vehicle selector can help you find a battery that’s guaranteed to fit your car. Simply enter your vehicle’s year, make, and model to see only compatible batteries. We also have a price match guarantee and a 60-day return policy in place, so you can shop with confidence. Our friendly and helpful customer service team is on standby to offer you support around the clock.

Don’t let yourself suffer the inconveniences of a faulty car battery for too long. Place your order for a new car battery at CarParts.com today.

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Automotive Features Reviewer at CarParts.com

Lisa Conant grew up in Canada around a solid contingency of gear heads and DIY motor enthusiasts. She is an eclectic writer with a varied repertoire in the automotive industry, including research pieces with a focus on daily drivers and recreational vehicles. Lisa has written for Car Bibles and The Drive.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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