An electrical system is only as good as the connectors that there are on it. That’s why the car battery terminals in your vehicle play such a critical role. These small parts are like gateways, ensuring that electrical current can get where it needs to be without any restrictions.
Car battery terminals and cables can be replaced together from anywhere between $150 and $400. However, if you want to replace the terminal attached to the battery itself, you’ll have to buy a whole new battery. That will run you between $80 and $200, depending on the size and brand of the battery.
If you’re confused about your car’s battery terminals, don’t worry. We’ll clear up everything for you in this guide.
What Are the Two Terminals on a Car Battery?
Firstly, we have to be very clear about what we mean when we say ‘car battery terminals’. That’s because you have two sets of terminals under your hood: the terminals built into your car battery and the cable terminals that attach to the car battery.
The cable terminals are what you use to connect the battery to the car. They clamp directly onto the battery’s positive and negative battery terminals, completing the circuit that allows electricity to flow correctly.
Terminals Built into Car Batteries Can’t Be Replaced
Typically, people use the word ‘terminal’ interchangeably to refer to both kinds of battery terminals; the ones attached to the cable and the ones on the battery itself.
The car battery terminal size is different between the positive (+) and the negative (-) ones, and there are several different car battery terminal types, too.
Here’s the thing, though: the terminals built into your car battery can’t be replaced, not that you should, anyway.
Think about it; you’ll replace your car battery every few years, and the new battery that you buy will come with its own built-in, brand-new terminals, regardless of the car battery terminal types!
So, those aren’t the kind of parts you’ll need to worry about replacing.
Car Battery Cable Terminals or “Clamps”
However, the parts that you should be concerned about (which we’re focusing on in this guide) are the cable terminals that clamp onto your car battery.
These battery terminals, sometimes called “clamps”, will eventually go bad thanks to corrosion or after being in use for a long time, and you’ll have to replace them to get your car working correctly again.
In simple terms, terminals on batteries come and go, but the clamps stay the same (until you have to replace them).
What Are the Signs of a Bad Battery Terminal?
So, when should you replace your battery cable terminals? When you experience common symptoms of car battery problems, you should also check out the cable terminals.
For example, a few signs of a bad battery terminal are:
- Problems starting your car - like a car that won’t start at all, or cranks very slowly, or only produces a clicking noise whenever you try to start it.
- Electrical supply problems - like sudden power loss to your car’s electrical system, including your lights, entertainment system, and more.
As you can see, those symptoms are similar to when you have a car battery in bad shape. So, how can you tell if it’s the battery or if it’s just the terminals that are causing the problem?
Well, you have to do a visual inspection and check the terminals up-close. You'll see that the terminals are covered in corrosion, and that's a clear sign that the problem is with the terminals and not the battery itself.
What Happens When Your Car's Battery Terminals Are Corroded?
When your car battery terminals are corroded, that means it’s been exposed to the acidic fumes from the battery acid. Besides that, exposure to excess moisture can also speed up the corrosion process.
That corrosion will prevent the terminals from fulfilling their purpose to conduct electrical energy between the battery and the car’s electrical system.
At first, that will result in the car not receiving enough electricity to function correctly. But if the problem is left to become severe enough, it will completely block the flow of electricity and prevent the car from starting.
Seeing as how the electrical system is critical to the car’s overall function, you’ll want to get those terminals replaced as soon as possible.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace Car Battery Terminals?
The price to replace car battery terminals will depend on what exactly you’re replacing.
If you want to replace the terminals on the battery cable (i.e., the ‘clamps’ or ‘connectors’), that’ll cost between $150 and $400. That price includes replacing the cables and the terminals together, which is a better way of doing things.
Why? Well, if the terminal ends are already so corroded that you need to replace them, there’s a good chance at least part of the cables themselves are rusted, too.
Best to replace them altogether in one go and save yourself from a few future headaches!
However, if the terminals built into the car battery are corroded, and you want to fix them, you’ll have to replace the car battery entirely. That can cost you anywhere between $80 and $200, depending on your vehicle type and battery brand.
Can You Replace Car Battery Terminals Yourself?
Yes, it’s possible to replace just the car battery terminals and to do it yourself. All you have to do is purchase the battery cable terminals and replace the damaged ones in your car.
Suppose you decide to do it yourself, then you should know that terminals come made of different materials. For example, lead terminals are cheaper but aren’t the best at conducting electricity.
That’s why you should spend a little extra on terminals made with copper, as they’ll offer the vehicle a much better connection with its battery.
How Long Does It Take to Replace Car Battery Terminals?
Car battery terminals are pretty straightforward to replace and will take most mechanics under one hour to complete. That will depend on the design of your vehicle, as some car models take a bit more time and effort to replace the cable and terminals.
Check out CarPart Australia!
Looking for car battery terminals or other parts to replace yourself? Check out the Marketplace at Carpart.com.au. There, you’ll discover excellent deals on auto parts. Alternatively, you can use the Parts Finder to source used and brand-new parts from suppliers and wreckers from all over Australia!
By Ray Hasbollah