Transporting Automobile Batteries Regulations and Guidance


Without a battery, our vehicles would never leave the driveway. The rechargeable cell, often referred to as an SLI since it starts, lights and ignites the starter, supplies electric power to the entire auto system. Automotive batteries consist of a lead acid-base with a 12-volt system made up of six galvanic cells that produce an electrical charge.

Batteries Are Potentially Toxic

Batteries are derived from a wide range of materials that include everything from acid to alkaline. When batteries are not suitably transported several components of the battery can be damaged, and the acid can leak throughout the transport and out into the environment. The acid can pollute the ground and water. It will eventually become a toxic threat to humans and other living creatures.

A Dangerous Ride

Transporting batteries increases the risk of hazardous material or waste being released into the environment. Improperly packaged batteries can short-circuit and cause a fire. Traveling conditions can sometimes be less than ideal. Or better yet, what is the worst-case scenario in the event of a (fill in the blank)? With that thought in mind, the U. S. Code of Federal Regulations established strict guidelines to ensure the safety in transporting small and large cells.

Why You Should Read This

Any company, agency, or employee that manufactures, distributes, transports, loads, or sells batteries needs to have a thorough understanding of how batteries are produced, packaged, stored, transported, and recycled. Knowing every step from creation to disposal helps each entity along the way make informed wise decisions. Each decision affects the entire planet at large.

This guide covers the packaging and transportation of new and used batteries both individually and collectively. It will specifically cover all procedures involved in safely packing and transporting a car battery during your move so that it does not leak fluid or have the potential to cause harm. The guidelines apply to both new batteries and used batteries with a few exceptions noted throughout the text.

Proper Packaging and Transporting

Batteries with acid or corrosive fluid, must be arranged and loaded to carry in a way that prevents these three potential hazards:

  • Dangerous Heat Levels. A critical level of heat can melt, scorch or corrode the packaging. It can also lead to combustion or fire.
  • Short Circuits. A battery can short circuit if it comes into contact with another battery, or other conductive material.
  • Terminal Damage. Terminals must be protected by either a suitable package or adequate cushioning that can prevent shifting, leaking or damage to the terminals. Hard plastic covers must be placed over the terminals for added protection. The battery must be secure enough to resist severe impact.


Transporting With Specification Packaging

The following types of specification packaging are approved for batteries that are transported with no other contents:


  • Wood
  • Fiberboard
  • Hard Plastic


  • Plywood
  • Fiber
  • Plastic
  • Plastic Jerrican

Transporting with Non-Designated Packaging

Theses non-designated packagings are approved for batteries loaded with no other contents:

  • Pallets competent to withstand the bumps and movements that are common on the road.
  • Strong Outer boxes that can handle up to three batteries weighing total of 75 pounds.
  • Durable Fiberboard or wood boxes carrying four to five batteries weighing a total of 65 pounds.
  • Fiberboard boxes with 200-pound test strength carrying single batteries up to 75 pounds. The terminals must be reinforced and secure. The entire box must be able to pass a compression evaluation of 500 pounds with no damage to the battery.
  • Fiberboard boxes with 400-pound test carrying a single battery exceeding 75 pounds. Cushioning such as excelsior pads or corrugated fiberboard must be placed around the entire battery for protection. A wooden frame and corrugated pieces of grooved fiberboard sheets having a test of at least 200 pounds secure the battery’s topside. It must be strong enough to withstand severe impact or warehouse stacking without any damage to the battery.

Electrolyte Acid & Alkaline Corrosive Battery Fluid

Electric storage batteries containing acid and fluid with corrosive properties are subject to the following requirements:

  • No other dangerous substances may be loaded or transported with the fluid.
  • The batteries are to be positioned to block any damage or short circuits that could occur during delivery.
  • Additional materials packed with the fluid must be completely separated, bolstered, or otherwise tightened to prevent touching or damaging the battery.
  • The truck may only transport battery substance that is shipped by the original driver, unless batteries are combined to be recycled together.

Specific Packaging for Electrolyte Acid & Alkaline Corrosive Batteries

  • Wooden boxes that contain 1-gallon glass receptacles inside. The boxes may not weight more than 2 gallons total in each outside container. Inside containers must be adequately cushioned and isolated from batteries by a thick wooden barrier.
  • Fiberboard boxes containing 12 inside packages of polyethylene or other relevant materials resistant to the shipment, that can hold up to 0.5 gallons each. Inner packaging must be adequately insulated from the storage battery. The total box can weight up to 64 pounds.

Non-Spillable Requirements

Batteries must pass two mandatory evaluations to be considered adequately sealed, non-spillable and ready for transport:

  • Vibration Assessment. The battery is attached to a vibration machine and evaluated in three relative upright positions for equal duration up to 90-95 minutes. The vibration must meet or exceed common road conditions such as holes or bumps and continue at short intervals conducted one minute apart.
  • Pressure Differential Assessment. The battery will be stored for no less than six hours at 75 °F ±7 ° while being subjected to a pressure differential of at least 13 psig at the same time. It must be evaluated in three relative upright positions as well, for no less than six hours in each position.

Dry Batteries & Battery Chargers

Dry batteries and chargers should be packed in fiberboard boxes with inner containers that hold battery fluid. Each box can hold up to twelve receptacles. The entire package will not exceed 75 pounds.

Battery acid may be placed in compound packaging inside a fiberboard box alongside storage battery that is dry. The compound packaging has a total capacity of 8.0 liters. The entire package will not exceed 82 pounds.

Damaged or Used Batteries

Damaged or used batteries that cannot hold battery fluid in the external casing may be shipped with batteries in single units that are transported under these conditions:

  • Drain fluid out of the battery to prevent leaks in transit.
  • Package each battery using a separate leak-proof standard package with adequate, suitable permeable material. Put the package inside another leak-proof exterior package.
  • When placed with batteries or other materials that are fastened to prevent shifting in transit, load the entire battery in a leak-proof package to eliminate the threat of leaks under normal driving conditions.


As you might expect, most states have strict certification or endorsement regulations for transporting hazardous waste. Pennsylvania offers a Hazmat Endorsement for drivers who qualify. Keep in mind that a state endorsement gives you credibility and ensures that you are compliant and current with all guidelines. Endorsements in most states include a written evaluation, possible driving evaluation, and thorough background check.

Your Role as a Driver

Beyond the legalities and professional obligations of your job is the safety of the people that you work with as well as the environment around you. Failure to perform your job at any stage with the utmost care can have devastating short and long-term effects. It’s critical that you never underestimate the possibility of worst-case scenarios while transporting automotive batteries.