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How to Tell the Negative & Positive Posts on a Car Battery

by Leonardo R. Grabkowski

Not everyone needs to learn advanced automotive technical information, such as rebuilding engines, transmissions or performing other major repairs. However, everyone who owns a vehicle should acquire a basic understanding of vital car information about such things as changing tires, adding engine oil and jump-starting or safely working with batteries. Even jump-starting a car battery can be dangerous if the proper procedure isn't followed. Learn how to differentiate between the positive and negative posts on your car battery.

Step 1

Shut your engine off and open the hood.

Step 2

Remove the battery box cover, if there is one. Some late-model vehicles have plastic covers protecting the battery. If yours does, squeeze the tabs around the cover to remove it.

Step 3

Inspect the battery posts. Look for the plus sign (+) imprinted on top of the battery. This indicates the positive battery post.

Look for the minus sign (-) imprinted on the battery. This is the negative battery post.


  • Some positive battery posts are covered by a protective red cover, while negative battery posts are protected by a black cover.


  • Never confuse the positive and negative battery posts when disconnecting, reconnecting or jump-starting your battery. The negative cable should always be removed from the negative post first; reversing the process could cause an explosion.

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