Car batteries only last for so many years under the best conditions. Dodge Caravan batteries are no exception. Sooner or later, you're going to run into a dead or dying battery. Replacing it is a relatively benign task, but car batteries are heavy. There is also a right way and a wrong way to replace the battery in a Caravan. Because battery acid is caustic, its vapours can leak through the vents, creating a flammable gas. If a spark emits from the battery terminal connections, it can explode leading to serious or fatal injuries.
Put on safety glasses and work gloves and open the bonnet to locate the battery.
Remove the battery hold-down clamp using the ratchet, extension (if necessary) and suitable sized socket.
Disconnect the negative battery terminal clamp first using a hand wrench to loosen the clamp's retaining bolt and nut. Twist the terminal clamp, once the bolt is loose, with a pair of Channel-lock pliers. The negative battery terminal clamp is indicated by a minus sign stamped on the battery housing. Removing this first will prevent sparks from emitting from the battery when you remove the positive terminal clamp.
Disconnect the positive battery terminal clamp from the battery post in the same manner. The positive battery terminal is indicated by a plus sign stamped on the battery housing.
Carefully remove the battery from the engine compartment of the Caravan.
Clean the battery terminal clamps with a battery terminal and clamp cleaning tool. Use the stiff bristled wire brush to shine the lead terminals and create a better electrical contact.
Use a couple tablespoons of baking soda and warm water solution to clean the battery tray off if corrosion powder is present. Use an old toothbrush to scrub the solution around the surface of the tray.
Install the new battery, making sure you have the positive and negative battery posts on their respective sides near each of the appropriate cables.
Install the positive battery terminal clamp first and then re-tighten the clamp's retaining bolt and nut. Be sure the clamp cannot wiggle on the new battery post or you won't get a good electrical connection.
Install the negative battery terminal clamp last in the same manner as the positive.
Replace the battery hold-down clamp and re-tighten so the battery does not move. Vibrations from a loose battery can decrease the shelf-life of a battery.
Remove any tools that may be left in the engine compartment and then start the engine to test the efficiency of the replacement battery.
Spray the battery terminal clamps and posts with battery terminal protector spray. This will help prevent the clamps from corroding. You don't have to be worried about getting the spray on the battery housing. It won't damage the battery.
For later versions of the Dodge Caravan that feature theft-deterrent radios and internal alarms, plug a computer memory saver into the power source (cigarette lighter port) before disconnecting the battery. These devices use a 9-volt battery and are inexpensive. They're available at most auto parts stores and will prevent you from losing radio codes or alarm codes.
Tips and warnings
- For later versions of the Dodge Caravan that feature theft-deterrent radios and internal alarms, plug a computer memory saver into the power source (cigarette lighter port) before disconnecting the battery. These devices use a 9-volt battery and are inexpensive. They're available at most auto parts stores and will prevent you from losing radio codes or alarm codes.