To understand how battery cables work, you must start at the very heart of the vehicle: the battery.
Inside the batteries are cells composed of alloy plates and battery fluid that work together to generate power. The battery converts chemical energy to mechanical energy for the vehicle and also stores electric energy through the alternator when charging.
But all this would be all for naught without battery cables because they serve as the conduit for electrical power to pass to and from the battery.
Average Cost of Battery Cable Replacement
The average battery cable price is somewhere between $70 and $303. A small percentage of that belongs to the actual parts used in the replacement while the majority is for the labor costs.
Battery cable can be purchases for as little as $15. But labor rates will add an another $50 at the least.
Some battery cables itself could reach up to $300 if yours is an old car with limited parts availability like a 1997 Ford F-250.
Here are some of the quotes from service providers.
- Repair Pal – $251 to $296
- Your Mechanic – $86.63 – $365.57
- Fiix.io – $75 to $300
Types of Battery Cables
When it comes to battery cables, know that there are a few different types that you can turn to, depending on your need or specifications.
- SGT Battery Cable – this common battery cable can be used in various applications and is ideal for battery replacements as well as other electrical projects. Furthermore, the SGT battery cable offers protection against, cracking, oil, and even the elements. The SGT is rated up to 80 degrees Celsius or 176 degrees Fahrenheit.
Out of all the different types of battery cables, the SGT is considered the most cost-effective and budget-friendly while still providing a secure and enhanced connection. This battery cable could be bought for a price of more or less $20.99 depending on the gauge number.
- SGX Battery Cable – this type of battery cable is superior to the SGT in more ways than one. When it comes to durability and reliability, you can never go wrong with the SGX.
Because it is rated up to 125 degrees Celsius or 257 degrees Fahrenheit, it could stand greater temperatures than the SGT. It also has an XLPE insulation which makes it highly resistant against acid, abrasion, alkali, flames, ethanol, gas, ozone, diesel fluid, and more.
Its superior qualities enable the SGX battery cables to thrive when placed at engine compartments. However, it could be a tad bit more expensive than the SGT battery cable, being priced around $62 to $86 depending on the gauge number.
- Fine Stranded Battery Cable – this type of battery cable contains fine copper wire strands that enable maximum conductivity and flexibility (especially during low-temperatures). It has a temperature rating of up to 105 degrees Celsius or 221 degrees Fahrenheit, which is less than the SGX but considerably greater than the SGT.
The fine stranded battery cable is also highly resistant to water, oil, acid, and even against UV light and ozone exposure. Its resistance to water also amplifies its anti-corrosion properties. You can get this battery cable for less than $15.
Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Battery Cable
When your battery cables start to fail, they may exhibit the following symptoms. Once these symptoms show, it may be time for you to service or replace your battery cables.
- Your car won’t start or has issues with starting – Having issues starting your car is one of the first symptoms of a failing battery cable. Since the cables are responsible for delivering power from the battery to the car, a failure in starting your car may mean that the cables have been compromised. The car may crank slowly or not at all. In fact, if it’s a bigger problem, you might need to spend more for getting a new battery.
- The terminals have corroded – Corroded terminals may imply that the insides of the cable have also corroded. When this happens, there will be a resistance in the transfer of electricity from the battery to the vehicle. In severe cases, the corrosion itself will block any energy from coming through.
- The sheathing has split – This usually happens to older cables. Because the cables’ sheathing becomes more brittle as it ages, they usually become prone to splitting. When the wires become exposed, this may limit their ability to conduct electricity.
- The vehicle has no power – Since the negative terminal is responsible for powering up all the electrical components of the car, a vehicle with no power means that the negative cable has been compromised.
How Often Do You Need to Replace Your Battery Cables?
Battery cables are known to last a number of years and there is no specific period as to when you should replace them. However, careful observation is recommended because you never know when a battery cable might fail. Battery cables can also experience trouble especially when it is installed improperly or as it ages.
As a battery cable ages, its sheathing becomes brittle which could lead to cracks on the cable. When the wires become exposed, the flow of the current would be jeopardized and it won’t take long before other components of the vehicle start experiencing problems. It would be ideal for you to monitor your vehicle’s performance. When problems do arise, check the battery and its cable.
Regular servicing and maintenance can greatly add a few more years to your car battery cables. However, you should also know when it is time to get a replacement.
How Battery Cables Work?
There is a deeper complexity to the workings of battery cables once they are connected to the positive and negative terminals of the battery. The cable connected to each terminal functions differently from each other. The positive cable, or the anode, allows power to pass to the computer, the starter, and charging system of the vehicle.
The negative cable, on the other hand, allows power to pass to the chassis and is responsible for the complete electrical framework of the vehicle, enabling the car to receive power continuously. So when the cable is disconnected from the negative terminal, or cathode, there is no way to power up the vehicle.
The current that passes through the battery cables not only starts and keeps a vehicle running; it is also responsible for powering the radio and the other electrical devices up.
Cable Replacement: Can I Do It Myself?
You can definitely replace your battery cables yourself. But before you do this, you must first make sure that you are knowledgeable enough of your vehicle and its components to undertake such a task. Remember that you are dealing with raw energy and hence, the chance for electrical shock is high among other dangers.
If you feel as though your abilities are lacking or if the location of the battery and its cables requires far too complicated procedures, you should let a trained technician or mechanic work on the cable replacement for you.