Hacks for Checking and Replacing Your Car’s Battery Cable and Terminal Ends
The one thing you want from your vehicle is that it starts every time you turn the key. To be sure of that, you need to be sure your battery cables and terminals are in good condition. If they’re corroded or damaged, they need replacing. You need to inspect your battery cables and terminals and learn what needs to be done and how to do it.
You probably already know that lead acid automotive batteries require maintenance and that the maintenance you provide helps extend the life of your vehicle’s battery. The number one enemy of a good electrical connection between the battery and the starter is corrosion. Battery terminals and battery cable terminals should be checked for corrosion every time your vehicle is serviced. Corrosion on the battery terminals may not be visible until the battery cable terminals have been disconnected. Cables should always be disconnected before testing a battery and the corrosion removed from the battery terminals and cable terminal ends. Some corrosion can be cleaned off with a brush. In case of bad corrosion the entire cable or cable terminal must be replaced. To carry out a routine battery service begin by placing a cover over the fender of the vehicle, visually inspect for damaged cables, loose connections, corrosion, cracked covers, as well as loose hold downs and terminal posts. If any connections are clean but loose, tighten them clean remove corrosion, dirt or rust from the hold downs, battery or battery tray with a wire brush, a handy tool to use in battery maintenance is a battery terminal brush cleaner. For corrosion on the battery terminal posts use the terminal cleaning brush to clean tapered posts and the mating surfaces of a battery cable’s lead terminal. Wire brushes should not be used on stamped metal cable terminal ends since brushing may wear away the terminal’s corrosion resistant surface. A non abrasive brush should be used instead. In case of bad corrosion or serious damage the choice has to be made between replacing the cable’s terminal end or the entire cable. If the cable already has a temporary terminal end bolted on, consider replacing the entire cable. Otherwise, unless you find evidence of major damage to the cable, you can cut off the damaged end and replace it with a new one. Many times, the battery on a car or pickup truck has to be replaced and we find out that the connections on the end of the cables are broken or damaged and have a poor connection. When this happens, there are two choices. Either replace the entire cable, which can be a time consuming expensive job, or simply replace the connection end on the end of the cable. The easiest way to do this is with a connector that clamps onto the end of the battery cable. These are made by several companies such as Fastronix, Installgear, Shumacher, ACDelco, Waterwich, Road Power, and Tech Team https://techteamproducts.com/. We happen to like Tech Team’s #802 https://www.amazon.com/Terminal-Connectors-Automobile-Tech-Team/dp/B0815611YR/ref=sr_1_231?keywords=tech+team+battery&qid=1581450000&sr=8-231 the best because it is made from high quality solid lead and easily connects to the bare wire ends of battery cables.
If you’re going to replace the terminal, follow these steps. First disconnect the grounded (negative) battery cable before replacing the terminal on either cable, then remove the old terminal by cutting or sawing as close to the cable’s terminal as possible. Next, strip the cable installation approximately three fourths of an inch from the cable end and loosen the backplate on the replacement terminal by unscrewing the two backplate bolts. For smaller cables turn the backplate over to assure a tighter fit. Then insert the bare end of the cable into the threaded opening below the backplate and tighten both bolts firmly. Be sure to use sufficient pressure against the bare wire and assure that no insulation is under the backplate. Bare wires should extend an eighth of an inch beyond the terminal. Now clean the battery post and remember that the (negative) ground cable always gets connected last. Place the battery cable terminal over the battery post and tighten firmly. Never hammer the terminal onto the post. If it is too tight, spread the terminal enough to fit onto the post. Actually, there is a lot to know about repairing battery cable ends. You can go to YouTube or do a Hey Google, Hey Alexa, or Hey Siri search to find out more about this subject.