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Replacing battery cables part III- are these aftermarkert cables useless?


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26 replies to this topic

#1 ttt

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 09:21 PM

So, if you've been closely following the forum the last few days you know I've been trying to replace the badly corroded battery cables on my 1994 Legacy wagon (I'm starting new threads for each problem I run into since someone with each respective problem might be helped by scanning over something with a specific, descriptive title in their search, FYI).
Anyway, so I was able to remove the battery cables easily. Then, like an idiot, I went to autozone and said I needed battery cables for my car. The kid at the counter punches it in and goes to fetch some generic 4-gauge batter cables and rings me up for $15. I was so happy about how cheap the cables were I didn't think to check and make sure the cables looked the same as the ones I had taken off.
As it turns out, they do not. The main issue is that in place of the second shorter wire that ran from the positive terminal to the fuse box, and from the negative terminal to a bolt on the body of the car, there are just these wires with some kind of electrical connector- like something that you would crimp to another wire. But it certainly isn't doesn't have the fitting that the original cables had that attach to the fuse box and ground.
So, my main question is, what do I do with these cables? Am I supposed to attach some second wire to them? Should I just return them and face up to paying however much for "correct" cables?

#2 nipper

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 10:30 PM

I'm not sure what the issue is here. You just cut the leads off the old wires and crimp them onto the new ones, or am I missing something.


And don't blame the kid. Being someone that cataloged these things, all aftermarket cares about is length, gauge, and number of pigtails (connections).

#3 john40iowa

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 11:17 PM

That's a good point Nipper. After market is sometimes exactly that! Even paying more money, doesn't always equal OEM Subaru; this I have found out the hard way.

#4 MilesFox

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 11:27 PM

Have you truied the brass marine terminal? it installs on the eyelet on the battery cable. The original ones stretch out and don't hold if tightened u so many times.

Subaru cables are known to fail by breaking internally after all troubleshooting measures were taken.

Could your problem be starter related?

What symptom do you have that behooves you to change the cables. If it is just visible corrosion, i would go with the marine terminal.

Did you keep your original wires?

#5 ttt

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 12:27 AM

Sorry for the tone of my last post. I was having one of those novice auto mechanic moments of despair- getting home from the auto parts store and realizing what you thought you had isn't what you actually have.

The original problem was that the car wouldn't start unless I jiggled the extremely corroded positive cable. Here's a link to the photos: http://www.ultimates...ad.php?t=132142
Overall the terminals were in horrible condition and the corrosion seemed to have seeped down the positive cable. It seemed like replacing was the best option.

So is crimping battery cables in this manner generally okay to do? Reading things like the a forum made me unsure:

"A crimp may not work unless you can ensure that this crimp can carry the full current needed to the fuse box. Splicing a single wire is easy when one wire carries a maximum of say 10 amps but when wiring a replacement battery cable with a run to the fuse box, considerations must be made involving the large currents carried from the battery to the fuse box. Much more than 10 amps. Do everything to make this replacement as good as the factory connection otherwise you'll find out down the road at the worst possible moment when you least expect it. Freezing cold/rainy/wet snow/winds above 30mph......................with nothing working.
"
http://www.saturnfan...p/t-174005.html

Has anyone every had electrical failures or other problems associated manipulating a battery cable in this way?

Oh- and it's fine that the kid at the store gave me what the computer spat out. That's his job. But I asked if the cables had to be modified or something, because in the plastic case the short cable looked a little too short, and he said something like "oh no, they just go right in!" It was dumb of me not to look at them closely until I got home. It just got my expectations all out of whack.

Edited by ttt, 18 April 2012 - 12:34 AM.


#6 ttt

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 12:28 AM

And yes, I still have the original cables. MilesFox, I thought since the replacement cables were inexpensive I would just replace them in their entirety. I don't think it's starter related, as when the car doesn't start, it entirely loses power- windows, lights, everything, which can be restored by jiggling the positive battery cable.

Edited by ttt, 18 April 2012 - 12:34 AM.


#7 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 07:13 AM

I'd think, at this point, a clean well-crimped 'butt splice' - maybe smeared with some dielectric grease afterwards and tucked out of the way, will be way ahead of the performance of the old corroded cable set. maybe not 'like new' but , for $15, it should freshen everything up fairly well. You might find a youtube video example of what you're doing.

Be careful working over,around or near the battery. best to do as much as possible away from it and don't get 'casual' swinging wrenches or screwdrivers around next to it.

#8 MilesFox

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 07:58 AM

sounds like what you described is the terminal itself. The cable should be ok. Nothing else will fit as nicely.

#9 ttt

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 08:21 AM

sounds like what you described is the terminal itself. The cable should be ok. Nothing else will fit as nicely.


Well, since the corrosion was worst on the cable itself and looked like it had extended inside the insulation, I thought it would be best just to replace the whole thing. I still have the old one in case for whatever reason the new ones don't work out.
Thanks for your help everyone.

#10 Cougar

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 04:42 PM

You should be able to still use the older smaller wires and splice them into the new main cables that they provided a splice connector for. Just make sure you crimp the connections well. If you need to cut out some damaged wire you can splice in some new wire of the same gauge to replace the damaged wire and get the length you need. Placing heat shrink over the splice connections or doing a good tape job over them would be good to do also. Adding splices to a power wire isn't ideal but it isn't any problem if they are done correctly and can save time and money.

Edited by Cougar, 18 April 2012 - 04:49 PM.


#11 ttt

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 06:17 PM

Yeah, Cougar, that is what I would like to now do. From what I'm reading there are special tools for crimping battery cables. I'm not sure if it's economical for me to buy one at this point. Are there other ways to go about effectively accomplishing this goal?

#12 jp98

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 08:51 PM

If you don't feel good about crimping the connections then cut the connector off and soldier and heat shrink it. I haven't used a butt connector in over 20 years where I can soldier it.

Every tool box should have a soldiering iron in it along with rosin core soldier that is used for electrical connections.

#13 john40iowa

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 11:10 PM

You might consider petroleum jelly over the clean new cables. My car's are 13 year old and look show room (though the hold down I did have to replace due to rust); despite the heavy sub woofer that is a drain. Anyone who read my post's knows my car is a member of the family. Once a year the cables and battery get the baking soda treatment, followed by the generic petroleum. Peace of mind is very good insurance. Do be careful, we had the rare experience of having a a battery explode once, it was not pretty.

#14 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 12:51 AM

Soldering the battery terminals to the wire is the prefered method. Crimping is not needed. Get yourself some quality welding/battery cable wire, the correct copper solder-slug style terminals, and heavy duty heat shrink with sealant incorporated. All you need is the cable, terminals, heat shrink, and a propane torch with solder/flux or solder slugs.

The smaller gauge wires - such as the body ground or fusible link supply wire can be soldered into the terminals along with the cables.

Of course you will want to solder copper lugs on the other ends of the cable for fastening them to the starter, block, etc.

Here is one supplier of such materials. I haven't used them personally but it looks like they have the right supplies. I have a local supplier and you might check around your area and see who does terminals and lugs, etc.

http://www.wiringpro..._terminals.html

GD

#15 Cougar

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 04:03 AM

You shouldn't need a special crimp tool for the smaller power wire. You would need one for the large wires. Like the others stated, soldering the connection is a sure way to make sure the connection is good.

#16 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 07:47 AM

If you don't want to buy tools and materials and learn a new skill (soldering or wire crimping) you could get your $15 back and order the cable assembly from an online parts dealer for about $70. Or take the stuff you have now to a familymember/friend that's a gearhead, have him do it for pizza or a 6-pack.

Or have your mechanic do it for $20 and a lotto ticket.

Edited by 1 Lucky Texan, 19 April 2012 - 07:50 AM.


#17 ShawnW

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 08:40 PM

The positive battery terminal is sold separately and is the most common problem. After that I usually get a used part from the junkyard for the cables themselves. They charge $2-3 for a battery cable at the yard next to my shop. I would rather have used OEM than New aftermarket in this case-every time.

#18 ttt

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 01:36 AM

I would rather have used OEM than New aftermarket in this case-every time.


And I would too. But I'm also incredibly broke. So it's hard for me to decide what to do here.
But while I think, let me ask a general question I had- the auxiliary lead on the original cable is much thicker than the one on the aftermarket cable. Is there a reason why such thick gauge wire was selected by the engineers of the car? Are there problems you would expect having the thinner gauge wire as a replacement? That itself made me a little uneasy. It just seemed odd.

#19 ttt

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 01:37 AM

You might consider petroleum jelly over the clean new cables.


Yeah, I'm a convert to this practice based on how bad the terminals and cable looked before. I lubed up the posts real good after I gave the battery its baking soda sponge bath.

#20 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 08:00 AM

And I would too. But I'm also incredibly broke. So it's hard for me to decide what to do here.
But while I think, let me ask a general question I had- the auxiliary lead on the original cable is much thicker than the one on the aftermarket cable. Is there a reason why such thick gauge wire was selected by the engineers of the car? Are there problems you would expect having the thinner gauge wire as a replacement? That itself made me a little uneasy. It just seemed odd.



everything is a compromise for function, weight, cost, durability, etc.

lots of pressure on aftermarket stuff to be cheap so, they go with smaller wire or wimpier insulation or make you move connectors over, etc. Plus, you may trade or junk the car before experiencing a failure from a lower quality part - just because they know it's going on a used vehicle, perhaps one closer to the end of its life than beginning. If you KNOW you're gonna keep this car for a long time and want to minimize the possibility of a part-related failure, it's hard to argue with buying OEM or similar quality. This may not be quite as critical for something like battery cables, but it isn't bad practice to investigate and insist on good parts. Perhaps the parts store has a better aftermarket than the one you purchased. Frequently there are 2-3 'levels' of quality available in the aftermarket product world.

#21 Cougar

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 09:59 AM

As long as the pigtail wire is at least 12 gauge wire I would think you would be ok.

#22 eulogious

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 01:29 PM

Don't go cheap, and don't use butt splices. I have been installing car audio system as a hobby for years, and I have seen my own work fail because I used cheap parts and didn't solder. Do it once and do it right.

Because I installed a 1000w RMS stereo system into my soob, I have replaced almost all the original wire attaching to the battery with good aftermarket stuff. My 2 battery terminals are worth $50 a piece, and I will gladly spend that money again. They don't corrode, and I can get rid of those stupid ring terminals they use from the factory. You can get much better ring terminals that don't require crimping or soldering as well.

At the end of the day, to do what you are asking for properly so it won't cost you anymore in the future is going to cost more the $15. Good quality 4awg wire will cost you $3-4 a foot, and 0awg will cost $5-6 a foot, and you will need at least 10 feet of 4awg at the minimum, so you are looking at about $30-40 in wire alone, and that doesn't include any terminals. Honestly I would say you would need about $150 to replace the original battery terminals with something that will last and to replace all the original wire and ring terminals. No way to get around it, if you want to do it right. I have probably $200+ worth of wire and terminals in my car alone! Granted I have run a bunch of wire for my stereo, but most of it is tied up with stuff under my hood that I replaced or added to. I have never been impressed with the factory wiring on most cars, so that's one of the first things I replace. I basically do the "Big 3" to start when upgrading my wiring. Google "Big 3" wire upgrade and you should gets lots of good info back.

Of course my estimate is using really nice aftermarket car stereo stuff as well. You can find "generic" stuff that might be cheaper (looks like GD linked to a good source) and not look as pretty but still be functional, but it's still going to cost you somewhere between $50-100 all said and done, even using "generic" stuff, to do it right.

If you don't mind re-doing your work every so ofter because it fails, then do it cheaply. Because you WILL be redoing your work if you cheap out and end up keeping the car. Just my .02

Good luck!

#23 1-3-2-4

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 05:35 PM

I need to do my battery terminals and the wires.. I have the marine terminals but I need to get the ring terminals.

#24 ttt

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 03:51 PM

Sorry it's been awhile. I wanted to thank everyone for the help. I decided to learn to solder and to splice the old auxiliary leads to the new aftermarket cables. My joints didn't look absolutely beautiful, but I'm pretty confident they are sound. I've been driving for a month or so and no problems.

#25 Cougar

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 04:25 PM

You should be ok. The secret to getting a good solder joint is to apply a good amount of heat to the joint while flowing the solder to it and then quickly remove the heat after you have enough solder applied. Then don't move the joint until the solder has hardend.




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