Mechanics

Battery Cables

Automotive battery cables play a vital role in the performance of the vehicle's electrical system, if not maintained properly they can create several different issues from the engine not cranking over to low alternator performance. Battery cables are the main leads that supply voltage to the vehicle's electrical system and are usually color coated for easy reference; red (positive) and black (negative), but always verify which cable you are working with by looking at the battery itself. The positive cable supplies voltage to the starter and the main power center, which then distributes it to the rest of the vehicle. Negative battery cables supply the ground to the entire vehicle, which is what completes the circuit that makes electricity work.


Automotive Battery Cables

When performing routine maintenance on your vehicle, always check the battery cable connections to be sure they are tight and for signs of corrosion, as over time corrosion can build up causing a poor connection, which will lead to other problems. (Always wear safety glasses when working with automotive batteries). If corrosion is present, the cables should be cleaned with a solution of baking soda and water, this will neutralize the acid and keep it from leeching down the cables. When the corrosion is heavy, the cables may need to be removed from the battery and the contact surfaces cleaned to assure a good connection.

Automotive battery cables should last upward of 100k miles, depending on the application and outside variables such as oil contamination, abrasion or acid “leeching’ down the cables which can ruin them internally. Battery cables can causing problems with a vehicle, such as; slow/no crank, low state of battery charge, intermittent electrical issues within the vehicle (clock resetting, stereo memory resetting.)

When replacing cables always use a high quality replacement cable. Low quality cables tend to have fewer strands of thicker wire, which aren’t capable of carrying the amperage needed to start the vehicle efficiently while still supplying voltage to the rest of the systems. Less expensive cables also tend to use low-quality material for the ends, which makes them more susceptible to corrosion. High quality cables are made of oil resistant outer covering which have a high strand count copper wire, which is able to carry more amperage.

Replacing the cables should only require a few basic tools (socket set and a few wrenches). Visit - Battery Cable Replacement

AUTHOR


Written by
Co-Founder and CEO of 2CarPros.com
35 years in the automotive repair field, ASE Master Technician, Advanced Electrical and Mechanical Theory.


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Article first published (Updated 2013-11-18)