Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

How to replace a car battery terminal

Replace a car battery terminal yourself

Replace a car battery terminal instead of the entire battery cable

A car battery terminal can corrode from battery acid and the corrosion can cause a “click, but no start” condition. You can replace the entire battery cable, but that can be costly and time consuming. Or you can just replace the car battery terminal itself.

Three types of battery terminals

• The cheapest is the old fashioned plate/bolt terminal. battery terminal, best battery terminal, positive battery terminal, negative battery terminalTo install it, just use a hacksaw to cut off the old terminal. Then strip insulation off the cable and insert the wire under the plate and tighten the bolts. These terminals are cheap and they work, but they’re not the best choice.

The plate doesn’t contact all the wires, so you don’t get the best conductivity. Since the amps are flowing through only a portion of the wire and terminal, you get hot spots and that reduces starting power. The open design exposes the copper strands to the elements so they corrode and reduce conductivity even further.

• Then there’s the crimp style battery terminal.

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Crimp-style battery terminal

Shops often use these to replace your factory battery terminals because they’re easy to install and provide the best electrical contact. But you need a special special crimping tool to fasten them to the battery cable.

• The compression style car battery terminal is best for DIYers
Buy the terminal to fit your battery cable gauge. It’ll be 4, 6, 8-gauge. Then make sure you buy the proper polarity terminal—positive or negative. Also buy a small piece of heat shrinkable tubing—you’ll use that at the end of the process to seal the connection against the elements.

Remove the old battery terminal and clean the copper wire strands until they’re bright. Then slide the heat shrinkable tubing onto the battery cable. Then push the copper strands into the compression nut. Hold the compression nut with a wrench while you screw on the terminal. Then slide the heat shrinkable tubing over the connection and heat it. The heat will shrink the tubing and activate the sealing adhesive.

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Quick Compression Brand Battery Terminal

Step by step installation of compression style battery terminal using QuickCable's Quick Compression brand terminal

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New battery terminals using QuickCable’s Quick Compression terminals

Compression terminals are a bit harder to find. NAPA stores carry the Quick Compression brand terminal made by QuickCable shown here.

© 2012 Rick Muscoplat


Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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