Battery terminals form a very small part of your vehicle’s battery. Yet, these components play an important role in the overall operation of your vehicle. This explains why it’s a good idea to know the cost to replace battery terminals.
Over time, your car’s battery terminals may start to corrode. If not replaced, your car begins to experience glitches. Now, whether your car doesn’t crank enough or develops issues with the engine, this is certainly a stage you don’t want to get to.
Here’s a guide for battery terminal replacement and everything there is to know about car components. So, the next time you experience battery terminal-related issues, you know exactly where to start.
How Much Is The Cost To Replace Battery Terminals?
The total cost to replace battery terminals will cost you anywhere between $50 and $150. Now, this cost estimate includes the parts, labor, and associated taxes. Typically, terminals alone will cost you about $20 to $40 from any local auto store.
So, this will be your only expense if you plan on doing the installation yourself. But, you have to consider the circumstances. Some battery designs integrate built-on terminals. This means that if the terminals are damaged, you may have to replace the entire battery.
Depending on the model of your vehicle, you should expect to spend anywhere between $50 and $250 (minus labor and associated costs) on a new battery.
What Are Battery Terminals And How Do They Work?
Battery terminals form an essential part of your car’s battery. The function of the car’s battery is to generate the vehicle’s much-needed electrical power to help crank up and run the engine consistently. These terminals play an important role in facilitating the battery’s recharge while the alternator of the car runs.
Now, to transport the electricity generated by the battery to the rest of the car, you need terminals and cables. The cables are connected to the battery, with one attaching to the positive terminal and the other to the negative terminal. The cables and terminals are held together by ends/cables. This connection is what helps to transport the electricity from the battery to the starter and spark plugs.
Without this connection, your car simply doesn’t receive the sufficient electrical power it needs. So, maintenance of the terminal and terminal ends is extremely important. You want to regularly clean and wipe off any build-up or residue on the terminals and terminal ends. Regular cleaning and maintenance help to tackle battery terminals’ biggest enemy, corrosion.
How Do I Know My Battery Terminals Need Replacement?
There are several ways you can determine if your battery terminals need replacement. Here are simple-to-spot and common signs:
- You notice the battery icon light on the dashboard is on
- You struggle to crank up your car caused by loss of electrical power
- You hear a clicking sound when you start the engine, the engine won’t start at all or the engine stalling
- You notice sudden electrical issues in your car, such as light, entertainment system, or security alarm going off
It’s important to also note that the signs outlined above aren’t just limited to battery terminals. These signs may also indicate other issues associated with the batteries. So, once you note them, you want to look for two other key signs to confirm that the problems are caused by issues related to battery terminals. These include;
- You notice corrosion build up around the battery terminals (the terminals look powdered, corroded, or even crack around the loop that connects to the battery)
- You notice the terminal is loose or separated from the battery cables
Why Do I Need To Replace Battery Terminals?
You need to replace battery terminals to ensure the battery can effectively transfer its electrical power to the rest of the car via the starter and spark plugs. The number one reason why battery terminals may require replacement is that they develop corrosion.
A typical problem among lead acid batteries, corrosion happens when volatile chemicals or gasses (hydrogen, sulfur, etc) escape from the battery. These gasses come in contact with the metal material of the terminals. If these gasses and chemicals aren’t vented properly, they react with the terminal metal, causing corrosion.
With the formation of corrosion, the flow of electricity from the battery to the rest of the car is distorted. Further, the insufficient electrical supply means the power output from the battery also reduces. This, in turn, causes a chain of reactions that include the engine not starting or cranking up enough and even the engine stalling mid-drive.
If the battery terminals are not replaced, trying to draw more power output from the battery can cause bigger problems. These include overheating of the terminals, leading to damage to the cables and battery.
How are Battery Terminals Replaced?
Here’s how you replace terminals on your batteries;
- Pull the cable from the terminals, making sure you start by removing cables from the NEGATIVE This helps to prevent electrical shock. When you remove each wire, set them far apart from one another.
- Examine the terminal clamp design to ensure you replace them with similar ones. The most common ones are made using tinned copper.
- Use an old toothbrush to scrape off any residual rust and finish off with a clean cloth to ensure the terminals are spot clean. This process is important in ensuring the new clamps work with and pass through adequate power. If there’s too much rust residue, use a cup to 1 tablespoon of water and baking soda mixture for thorough cleaning. If this effort doesn’t work, you may have to replace the entire battery.
- Cut old terminals off the wires from their battery using wire cutters. Pull back at least half an inch of the plastic wire insulation to expose the wires for easy cutting. If you notice any rust residues hidden inside the insulation, clean them off before proceeding, ensuring the residue doesn’t get to the battery or wires.
- Insert new insulating tubing into each terminal wire, connect the wires to the terminals, and use a heat gun to shrink down the connection.
- Reattach the clamps to the battery and test if the battery works by starting the car. If the engine comes on without issues, you are successful. If you still experience trouble, go back to examine your wire connections to see where the problem is. If wiring isn’t the problem, the residual rust may be –s o check to ensure everything is clean and free of rust.
- If the DIY battery terminal replacement is too much work for you, don’t beat yourself up. There’s a reason why professional mechanics exist. For anywhere between $50 and $150, you can always get one to do the work for you.
How To Mitigate The Need for Battery Terminal Replacement
Battery terminal replacement eats into your bucks. But, it’s not the most expensive task. Nonetheless, there’s always a way to reduce the need for replacing battery terminals. This doesn’t only prolong the life of the terminals but also the battery as a whole. Without the gaseous discharges and corrosion build-up, batteries with their components (such as terminals) can last for three to four years.
Here’s how you can extend the life of your battery terminals;
- Consistent full vehicle maintenance and servicing
- Avoid operating your car in severe conditions (that may impact the vehicle’s starting and charging system)
- Invest in anti-corrosion pads or similar tools to help keep leaks at bay and to delay corrosion. While these pads don’t guarantee 100% protection, they help to reduce the intensity of the problem (anti-corrosion pads will cost you between $25 and $50).
- You can also swap lead batteries for more modern lithium batteries. These batteries offer better quality and come with a leakproof finish. This means you don’t have to worry about gasses or volatile chemicals escaping the battery. This, in turn, means the terminals are never at risk of getting corroded. But, lithium batteries can be slightly more expensive.
Contrary to what you may think, replacing battery terminals on your vehicle is quite easy. After all, all you need for the tasks are a few tools lying around your home to execute the tasks. All you need to remember is that when purchasing new terminals, always go for better quality and longer-lasting copper options.
However, if the task appears to be cumbersome, you needn’t worry. After all, the cost to replace battery terminals by hiring a professional mechanic isn’t much, either. For just $50 to $150, you will have new and clean working terminals that ensure optimal power output.
Even if you choose to replace the entire battery, it won’t cost you much. But, before you get here, try to adapt the steps to extend the life of your battery terminals and overall battery to save yourself a few bucks and time.