Your vehicle’s positive and negative battery cables are a vital part of its wiring harness and the rest of its electrical system.
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What are Battery Cables?
Battery cables connect your vehicle’s battery terminals to the rest of its electrical system, including its starting, charging, and ignition systems.
How do Battery Cables Work?
Battery cables are front and center on your vehicle’s electrical system. The positive cable often leads directly to the starter solenoid. From there it continues on to the positive lead on the starter. The negative battery cable is then attached to the vehicle’s chassis, allowing parts like the starter to complete their circuits when the appropriate switches are activated.
How Is a Battery Cable Made?
Battery cables are made of heavy gauge copper wire on factory equipment, as are the necessary lugs to attach them to a battery. The cables and lugs are available separately.
Many DIY mechanics find it easier to repair old battery cables than to replace them. To repair an old battery cable, you will need a special crimping tool.
Why do Battery Cables Fail?
- Battery cables are vulnerable to heat, moisture, and the wear and tear of normal use. All battery cables will eventually fail. This is normal; battery cables do not last forever
- To properly clean your battery terminals, you must remove the battery cables and lugs. This should be done every oil change; however, it will accelerate wear on the cables.
- When battery cables become really worn out, the cable lugs may break off as you attempt to remove them.
What are the Symptoms of Battery Cable Failure?
- Worn and corroded battery cables produce the exact same symptoms as worn and corroded battery terminals.
- Your vehicle may not start, run, or charge its own battery.
- Other odd symptoms may be present, causing you to think there’s a much bigger problem with your vehicle.
- Upon visual inspection, wear to battery cables may or may not be obvious.
- It’s always worth a look at your terminals and cables, especially if you’re experiencing odd, intermittent electrical problems.
What are the Consequences of Battery Cable Failure?
- Your vehicle may be difficult or impossible to start.
- Odd, intermittent symptoms may lead to unnecessary replacement of your battery, starter, or alternator.
Battery cables are an important yet often overlooked part of every vehicle’s electrical system. Before you attempt to replace your starter, alternator, or battery, be sure your battery cables are in good condition.
If you have questions or concerns about battery cables or any of your vehicle’s components or accessories, come into your local Pep Boys where we can answer any question, help you find any part, or perform any vehicle service you might need.