Battery cables are a critical piece of your vehicle’s charging and starting systems. They connect your battery to the rest of the vehicle, transferring power to its most crucial components. Besides, they keep the battery grounded to prevent short circuits and other electrical failures.
A set of battery cables consists of one red and one black cable. The red one usually stands for the positive battery terminal, while the black cable is attached to the negative terminal. On its other end, the red cable connects to the starter solenoid as well as features some connecting points for other electrical devices, while the other end of the black cable is used to ground a battery. Both cables are large enough to meet the demands of your vehicle’s electrical system.
Your battery cables are maintenance-free parts that do not require regular inspection or servicing. However, worn-out or broken battery cables can cause a variety of problems. Here are the most common of them:
You can’t start the engine
If one of your battery cables gets broken, your starter will not receive power needed to crank the engine. As a result, the vehicle won’t start.
None of your vehicle’s electronics works
A broken or bad cable restricts power flow to your electronics, so none of them will function.
If your starter cranks slowly, this can be caused by corroded or worn-out cables. They create additional resistance in the circuit, reducing power flow to the starter, so it can’t generate enough force to crank the engine as it should.
Illuminated check engine light or warning lights
Unlike older vehicles, modern cars feature an array of sensitive electronics. If your electronic devices do not receive the proper voltage supply, you will notice a variety of illuminated warning lights on your dashboard. Your engine control unit may also turn on the check engine light.
A modern vehicle relies on many electronic control systems to run smoothly and safely. Improper power supply due to bad battery cables can affect their operation, resulting in a number of drivability problems. In some cases, your engine may eventually stall if any of your battery cables fails completely.
Battery cables troubleshooting and replacement
A damaged or corroded cable must be replaced along with the other one to prevent possible problems in the nearest future. In some cases, you may need to replace only bad battery terminals if the cables are in good condition.
Replacing battery cables is a simple job that most drivers can handle with no special tools required. Just keep in mind to disconnect the negative terminal first when removing the cables, and, vice versa, attach a new set of cables to the positive terminal first when installing it. If you’re not sure that you can handle the job, leave it to a professional.