Look at the metal part of the cable end that contacts the battery terminal. That part must be nice and shiny. The bolt does not make the electrical connection. It only holds the connection tight. If the metal part appears dull reddish or rust-colored, it must be shined up with sandpaper. In a really bad case, the terminal will have to be cut off and replaced. Those universal ends were never meant to be a permanent fix but they do hold up pretty well.
If the system is still dead, turn on the headlights, then wiggle the cables, (watch for those pesky sparks), and observe what you're moving when / if the lights come on. A better way to find the problem is to use a cheap digital voltmeter to find the bad connection. I can walk you through that procedure, but everything you've mentioned suggests there's nothing more wrong than just the cable connections.
Wednesday, March 10th, 2010 AT 10:28 PM