When you’re replacing your car’s battery, don’t just chuck the old one in the dumpster! By taking care to properly dispose of your battery, you can protect the environment from the battery’s chemicals and get rewarded for it at the same time.
To safely and properly dispose of a car battery, disconnect and remove it from the engine and clean off any battery acid. Store it upright in a sturdy plastic bag so that it doesn’t leak. Take it to a retailer to exchange it for a new battery, where they will recycle the lead to make new batteries.
Here’s a more detailed walkthrough on how to safely dispose of your battery. We’ll see the safe way to remove it and store it, and all the options you have as to where to take the battery to get rid of it.
Disconnect the Battery
When removing the battery from your car’s engine, always put safety first. Wear goggles, gloves, and long sleeves to protect your eyes and skin from any battery acid that may be on the surface of the battery. Battery acid is an irritant and can even lead to long-term health issues in some cases.
First, disconnect the negative terminal. The cable on the negative terminal should be black or gray, and it might have a minus sign (-) to indicate which terminal it is. Alternatively, the cap of the terminal may be black or gray. (Source)
Warning: The nut may be too tight to unscrew by hand, in which case you’ll need to use a wrench. When using a wrench to loosen the nut, be sure that it does not touch the positive terminal.
Serious injury could result if the wrench closes the electric circuit by touching the negative and positive terminals at the same time. The battery may be too low to start your car, but there’s usually still some juice left in it.
After disconnecting the negative cable, do the same for the positive cable. The positive side should be indicated by a red cap or cable, and/or a plus sign (+). Remove the battery from the engine, and be sure not to let the positive terminal touch any metal part of the car. (Source)
Set it upright on the ground, then clean off any battery acid by flushing it with water. Remove any straps, blocks, or clips from the battery’s surface. These are intended to hold the battery in place while it’s in the engine, so they have no further purpose.
Storage and Transportation
You’re going to want to get the battery off of your property as soon as possible, but whether you’re doing that immediately or waiting a few days, you’re going to need to know how to store the battery before handing it off.
An old battery may have cracks where acid can leak out. This can include the caps on top. For this reason, you should always keep the battery upright so that the acid stays inside.
You should also put it inside a sturdy plastic bag so that any cracks in the sides or bottom of the battery won’t end up leaking on the surface where you’ve put the battery (for example, the interior of your car when you go to take the old battery to be recycled). If you don’t have a strong or heavy-duty plastic bag, you could also double-bag it for similar protection.
Keep in mind that the battery contains corrosive materials that could end up affecting your health if you keep it around for too long. Make sure you take it to be recycled as soon as possible and that as you’re transporting it that these storage needs are met.
It may be worth knowing what kind of battery you have in order to be fully aware of all the risks associated with it. For instance, a common type of battery is the flooded lead-acid battery (also called an SLI battery), which is a wet cell battery that contains sulfuric acid. With these batteries, it’s especially important to keep them upright to keep them from smearing.
Where to Take It
The ideal place to get the old battery off your hands is an auto-part retailer. You’ll need a new battery anyway, and retailers will actually charge an extra “core charge” on top of the new battery. Giving them the old battery as part of the exchange will remove the core charge since they can use the old battery to make new ones.
If you’re not buying a new battery at the same time as turning in the old one, the retailer may instead give you a gift card or store credit in exchange for the old battery. Either way, it’s worth finding bringing your battery to a retailer because you’ll be compensated whether you need a new battery or not.
The reason retailers offer this incentive is because the old battery has valuable lead inside it that can be used to make new batteries. Car batteries are one of the most recycled materials in the world, and to keep those materials in circulation keeps them out of landfills, where the lead and acid in the battery could poison the environment.
You can use this website to find a retailer near you who will take your used battery.
While a retailer is the best option financially, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other places you could take your battery to dispose of it.
Most cities and towns will have a place where you can quickly and easily drop off hazardous materials, including car batteries. While this may be convenient, though, they don’t give you anything in return, and they may end up dumping the waste in landfills or incinerators. This will vary by the area you live in.
Another option is a metal recycling establishment. These aren’t as consistent as retailers, since they don’t typically exist in chains as retail stores do. On the other hand, you may find that such an establishment near you will take your battery and pay you for it as they would for other metals. This may vary by state, as different states have different recycling practices.
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