How to Tighten Battery Cables

by Ashton Daigle

A tight connection between your battery cables and the positive and negative posts of your automobile's battery is essential to insure proper starting of your vehicle. A loose battery connection can prevent your vehicle from starting. When tightening your battery cables, do not allow metal tools to touch both the negative and positive terminals at the same time, as it could cause damage to the battery, your vehicle or to you.

Open the hood, and locate your vehicle's battery. The battery is normally located on the passenger side, toward the front bumper of your vehicle. However, in some makes and models, the battery may be located on the driver's side. Car batteries are usually large and rectangular-shaped.

Examine the battery and determine if it has top-post battery terminals or side-post terminals. On top-post batteries, you will see two metal posts on the top left and right-hand side of the battery. On side-post batteries, there are two wires attached to the side of your battery. The primary difference between the two posts--besides location--will be the socket size you will need to adjust the cables.

Wipe off the top of your battery, near the terminals, with an old rag until you find the positive and negative signs. As a rule, the red battery cable attaches to the positive terminal, and the black cable attaches to the negative terminal. However, on some cars the battery cables may not be clearly color-marked, so always make sure to check for negative and positive marks near your terminals.

Select the correct size socket to fit the nut on the battery clamps, and attach it to the ratchet. Loosen the nuts, and remove the battery cables from the battery. Make a note as to which cable attaches to the positive terminal and which attaches to the negative terminal.

Scrub the battery terminals with a wire brush.

Slip the battery cables back onto the appropriate terminals. Use the socket and ratchet to tighten the bolts of the cable connector to the terminals.

Items you will need

About the Author

Ashton Daigle, a New Orleans native, graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University in 1998 and went straight to work as a journalist. In 2005 he tackled the biggest news story of his life - Hurricane Katrina. Daigle is writing a collection of essays: What It Means to be a Saints Fan.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera dead battery image by Katrina Miller from Fotolia.com