How to Replace Car Battery Cables

  • 2-4 hours
  • Beginner
  • 142-30
What You'll Need
Set of wrenches
Car battery cables
Battery post cleaner
Heavy gloves
Petroleum jelly
Masking tape
Wire brush

When the car battery does not seem to be working even though you are sure it has full power then you may want to try replacing the cables that connect the car battery to the car. This seems like it would be a difficult job that only a mechanic could do but it is very simple with very few tools. The article that follows will show you how to accomplish this on your own.

Step 1 – Get the Right Cables

Even though a car battery is the same from car to car the cables that connect them to the vehicle are usually different from manufacturer to manufacturer and even model to model. Note the year of your vehicle, the model and type of car that it is. Get it before you run to the auto parts store because they will ask you anyway and it will save you time. Make sure you leave the store with a negative cable and a positive cable (a black and a red one).

Step 2 – Remove the Car Battery Cables

Before you remove the battery cables always wear a pair of heavy gloves. This will prevent you from getting a shock in case the battery arcs. Open the hood of your vehicle and locate the battery. There will be two cables attached to it and one will be red while the other is black. The red cable is the hot or positive cable. Remove with the negative or black cable first. Follow them to where they connect to the car. This may be easy to find on some cars while difficult on others. Place a piece of masking tape over the terminal where the negative cable was. Use the wrench set or screwdriver to loosen the clamps. You'll then be able to freely remove the car battery cables.

Step 3 – Clean the Car Battery Posts

When a car battery doesn't work correctly it can also be attributed to the poor condition of car battery posts. Over time the posts on the battery itself can corrode. After you remove the bad cables you should make sure the posts are clean before installing new ones. Use the post cleaner you purchased and rub it on the contacts. Use the wire brush to scrub until they're shiny again then wipe off with rags.

Step 4 – Installing the Car Battery Cables

Go to where the cables began (the last place you removed them) and insert the ends of the car battery cables. Tighten them with the wrench or screwdriver. Run the cables to the car battery. Rub a small amount of petroleum jelly over the clamps. This will prevent corrosion. Place the positive cable first and tighten then place the negative cable and tighten.