Battery Cable Buyer’s Guide
- Battery cables are thick and designed to withstand extreme operating conditions. However, the heat of the engine, coupled with the chemicals that the cables are constantly exposed to under the hood, may cause your vehicle’s battery cables to become corroded or worn-out over time.
- The very first warning sign of a damaged battery cable is dim interior lighting. The engine may also stall while running and crank slow during start up, if at all. The battery warning light on your dashboard may illuminate as well.
- On average, a replacement battery cable will cost you anywhere between $20 and $180. This component is sold individually, but you may also opt to buy it as part of a kit.
When your vehicle stalls, one of the components that you’ll likely blame is the battery. But sometimes the problem is not with the battery itself but with the cables that are attached to it. Battery cables are thick and designed to withstand extreme operating conditions. However, the heat of the engine, coupled with the chemicals that the cables are constantly exposed to under the hood, may cause your vehicle’s battery cables to become corroded or worn-out over time, requiring them to be replaced.
How Does a Battery Cable Work?
The battery cables act as the route wherein the electrical current from the battery travels through to reach the vehicle’s computer and power up different electrical components, including the ignition and lighting assemblies. The positive battery cable is the one attached to the vehicle’s computer, while the negative battery cable is connected to the chassis to provide grounding.
This configuration creates a closed-loop wherein power can flow through continuously. If one of the battery cables fails, the continuous flow of electricity will be cut off and the vehicle’s entire electrical system may seem “dead” even though the battery has plenty of charge.
The symptoms of a faulty battery cable are similar to that of a dead battery. The very first warning sign is often dim interior lighting. The engine may also stall while running and crank slow during start up, if at all. The battery warning light on your dashboard may illuminate as well.
How Often Do You Need to Replace the Battery Cable?
There is no set interval for replacing the battery cable. It may also fail without warning at any mileage. However, older battery cables are likely to have more brittle sheathing. When the sheathing breaks, it could expose the bare wire to damaging elements. If your vehicle’s battery cable has been in use for a long time, it would be wise to check it for signs of damage or corrosion every now and then. You should also be alert for the common symptoms that indicate a worn-out battery cable.
Why Is It Important to Replace a Damaged Battery Cable?
Damage battery cables will no longer be effective at their job of distributing the power from the battery into the different electrical components of your vehicle. This problem can completely prevent the engine from starting up.
Even if you try to manually start your vehicle through push-starting or jump-starting, the engine may still not turn over, since there is no way for the power to reach the vehicle’s computer. If left unchecked, faulty battery cables may also damage other parts of the electrical system.
Types of Battery Cables
When buying a replacement battery cable for your vehicle, you can’t just choose whatever catches your eye because they come in different types, and it’s absolutely important to connect the right type of cable to its corresponding battery terminal.
Positive Battery Cable
The positive battery cable normally has a red protective sheathing, making it easier to distinguish. One of its sections is connected to the starter motor and the electrical distribution center of your vehicle, where the electrical supply is further divided into fuses or circuits.
The other section of the positive battery cable is connected to the interior electrical distribution center, where it supplies power to the components found inside the vehicle cabin.
Negative Battery Cable
The negative battery cable is normally covered by a black sheathing. The largest section of the negative cable is connected to the engine. This acts as the path wherein large amounts of electricity can flow back to the battery after the engine is cranked. Meanwhile, the smaller section of the negative battery cable is connected to the frame of the vehicle to act as grounding for the interior and exterior lighting assemblies.
Things to Consider When Buying a Battery Cable
Aside from the type of battery cable, some of the other things you have to consider when buying this component include:
Battery Cable Size
The size of the battery cables depend on the type of your vehicle’s engine. In cars with small 4-cylinder or 6-cylinder engines, the battery cable size is usually 2 AWG. Small V8 engines and high-performance 6-cylinder engines, on the other hand, use 1/0 gauge battery cables. If you’re not sure what size your vehicle’s battery cables are, refer to your owner’s manual or check your vehicle manufacturer’s website.
Battery cables also come in PVC and cross-linked types. PVC battery cables have a temperature range of -40 to 80 degrees Celsius. Cross-linked types are further divided into two categories: SGX and STX. Both of these can withstand temperatures of -40 to 125 degrees Celsius and are tough against abrasion. However, most drivers prefer using an STX cable for small vehicles because it’s thinner.
Which Battery Cable Do You Connect First?
When replacing the damaged cables on your vehicle’s battery, make sure you remove the negative cable first (black) before removing the positive one (red). When attaching the replacement cables, connect the positive one first before the negative. Always do it in this order, and be careful not to let any metal object touch the terminals of the battery while you’re changing the cables.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Battery Cable?
The price of a replacement battery cable may vary depending on the brand as well as your vehicle’s year, make, and model. On average, a replacement battery cable will cost you anywhere between $20 and $180. This component is sold individually, but you may also opt to buy it as part of a kit.
Finding the Right Fit
CarParts.com carries a wide range of replacement battery cables in varying types, lengths, and materials. Our website’s built-in vehicle selector makes it easier for you to find a compatible product from our extensive catalog. Simply plug in your vehicle’s year, make, and model to get specific results.
Regardless of the brand and type you choose, you can rest assured that the aftermarket battery cables offered in our website are constructed from high-grade materials that meet OEM standards. They also come with a direct fit design, so you can be sure that they match your vehicle’s specifications.