Do It Yourself, Do It for You

BMW OEM car battery

Really Own Your Vehicle: Do It Yourself

You don’t have to be afraid of working on your own vehicle. There’s an entire industry devoted to the ‘do it yourself’ group of automotive owners. Granted, the computerization of vehicles advances every year. Vehicles are more complex, especially for autonomous driving and ekeing out that last little bit of fuel economy. But there’s lots you can do on your own vehicle, with a little elbow grease and the help of on-line resources.

Take me, for example. I have a 2004 BMW 330ci Cabriolet. It’s in great shape, only 117K on it, and it runs like a top. Except this spring, taking it out of storage. I had to boost it to bring it to life, and it simply wouldn’t hold a charge. When I looked back at the service history, the battery had been changed in 2012. Eight years of battery life is about three years too long.

Do Your Research

I Googled how to replace the battery on my specific car. There were many web sites to choose from, and I watched two videos and read two articles on how to replace the battery. The slightly tricky thing on some BMWs is the ‘registration’ of the battery with the car. My car didn’t need to go through this process, so it was relatively straightforward.

I called a local automotive parts store. They had a replacement battery in stock. One Visa number later, I was on my way to the store for a curb-side pickup.

The Install

The battery in my car resides in the trunk. Which reminds me of that classic Volkswagen ad with Dustin Hoffman trying to find the engine in a Fastback Sedan. Look under the hood of the BMW, no battery. Look in the trunk, no battery. It’s tucked away under a cover on the right side of the trunk.

The directions in the video were straightforward – remove a cover, remove a clamp, loosen the clamps on the battery, remove the negative cable first, then the positive cable, and pull the battery out. There are many videos on-line showing the process, so I won’t replicate them here.

The battery has a vent. Insert a plug on one side, and re-use the vent from the old battery to connect to a vent tube on the car. Reverse the order of removal, and you’re done.

It felt great. I did something myself, which worked out really well. I didn’t have to book an appointment, make time for dropping off the car and in these days of social distancing, have to worry about interacting with others.

"That's Not for Me"

I’d highly advise you to not undertake anything you’re not comfortable doing. Wear personal protective equipment (e.g. gloves, safety goggles, etc) and be confident in your ability to carry out the maintenance or the repair.

If you’re not up to a battery replacement, how about checking the tire pressures? The oil level? The transmission fluid level in automatic transmissions? Your owner’s manual will tell you how to carry out these often overlooked maintenance procedures.

Make your car your own. Do a little maintenance, and when it rewards you with reliable transportation, you can be proud of your contribution to the effort.

If you find you’re at the end of the line with your current vehicle, take a few minutes to check our our easy to use comparisons to help you decide on your next vehicle.

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