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.


Shut your engine off and open the hood.


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.


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.

About the Author

Leonardo R. Grabkowski has been writing professionally for more than four years. Grabkowski attended college in Oregon. He builds websites on the side and has a slight obsession with Drupal, Joomla and Wordpress.

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