How To Change a Car Battery Cable?

How To Change a Car Battery Cable

A car battery cable is a wire that carries electrical current between the battery and the starter motor, alternator, and other electrical components in a vehicle. The battery cables are typically made of copper or aluminum and are insulated with rubber or plastic.

There are usually two battery cables: a positive cable and a negative cable. The positive cable carries electricity from the battery to the starter motor and other electrical components, while the negative cable carries electricity back to the battery.

It is important to maintain the battery cables and keep them in good condition, as a damaged or faulty battery cable can cause problems with the electrical system in your vehicle.

Symptoms of a bad battery cable

There are several signs that you may have a bad battery cable, including:

  • A dead battery: If your car won’t start or the battery dies frequently, it could be a sign of a faulty battery cable.
  • Electrical issues: Dim headlights, flickering dashboard lights, and other electrical problems can be caused by a bad battery cable.
  • A car that won’t start: A faulty battery cable can prevent the electrical current from reaching the starter motor, causing your car to not start.
  • Corrosion or damage: Visually inspect the battery cables for signs of corrosion or damage. A frayed or broken cable may need to be replaced.

Since cables are usually relatively cheap, it is always a good idea to replace them when they become too corroded or worn out. This step-by-step guide will show you how to inspect, remove and install battery cables using just a few simple hand tools.

How To Change a Car Battery Cable

Materials Needed

To change a car battery cable in detail, you will need a few tools:

  • A basic set of hand tools
  • Battery terminal cleaning tool
  • Battery cleaner
  • Heavy-duty diagonal cutters
  • Replacement battery cables

How To Change a Car Battery Cable?

Here are the detailed steps to replace a car battery cable:

  • Locate the battery in your vehicle. It is usually found in the engine compartment, near the front of the vehicle.
  • Disconnect the negative cable from the battery terminal. This is usually the black cable and is marked with a minus sign (-). To remove the cable, loosen the terminal clamp using a wrench or pliers and gently pull the cable off the terminal.
  • Disconnect the positive cable from the battery terminal. This is usually the red cable and is marked with a plus sign (+). Follow the same process as step 2 to remove the cable.
  • Clean the terminal and cable end. Use a wire brush or sandpaper to remove any dirt, corrosion, or rust. You can read more about properly cleaning your battery terminals in our article, “How to Clean Battery terminal.”
  • Remove the battery from the engine. If necessary, use a ratchet and socket set to remove any mounting bolts or hardware holding the battery in place. Carefully lift the battery out of its compartment and set it aside.
  • Disconnect the battery cables. Once the battery has been removed, follow both battery cables all the way back to where they connect to the vehicle and disconnect them both. Usually, the negative battery cable will be bolted to the engine or somewhere on the vehicle’s frame, while the positive battery cable will usually be bolted to the starter or a fuse box.
  • Install the cables. Once you have verified that the replacement cables will work with your vehicle, proceed to install them in the same manner as they were removed. Secure both cables to the vehicle, but do not connect them to the battery yet.
  • Place the battery back in the car. With both new cables in place, it’s time to place the battery back into the car. Make sure not to let the new cables come into contact with the battery terminals as you return them, as that could result in you receiving a shock. Bolt the bracket that holds the battery back into place to secure the battery.
  • Connect the battery cable to the battery. You will be reconnecting the battery in reverse order of how you disconnected them, with the positive (+) being connected first and the negative (-) end being connected after. Make sure they are securely fastened and not loose, now you can close the hood.
  • Start the car. Make sure you attached the cable properly by starting the car. If the car fails to turn over, one of the cables may not be properly fastened and the electricity is not reaching the starter. If the car attempts to turn over but can’t quite start, your battery may not have enough charge. If the car fails to start, recheck where the cables are connected on both ends

It is important to make sure the cables are securely attached to the terminals and the terminals are clean to ensure good electrical contact. If you are not comfortable working on your car or are unsure of how to properly change a battery cable, it is recommended to have a mechanic or a professional do it for you.

How much does it cost to replace car battery cables?

The average cost for battery cable replacement is between $310 and $340. Labor costs are estimated between $70 and $89 while parts are priced between $240 and $251. This range does not include taxes and fees and does not factor in your specific vehicle or unique location.

If you have the work done at a dealership or a specialty shop, the cost may be on the higher end of this range. If you choose to have the work done at a general repair shop or by a mechanic, the cost may be lower.

It is also possible to purchase a replacement battery cable and install it yourself, which can save you money on labor costs. However, if you are not comfortable working on your car or are unsure of how to properly change a battery cable, it is recommended to have a mechanic or a professional do it for you to ensure the job is done safely and correctly.

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