How to Wire a Battery to a Starter

by Cayden Conor

The battery must be wired to the starter for the starter to work. The wire must be a thick cable, as the starter uses amperage, not voltage, to start. The typical positive battery cable is 4 gauge. The typical negative battery cable is 2 gauge. When installing the battery cables, you must ensure that they do not touch the exhaust. A starter is very close to the exhaust on many cars and trucks, and it is easy for the cable to bounce against the exhaust while you are driving.

Remove the old negative battery cable from the battery, using the appropriate wrench. Follow the cable to its ground -- it will be on either the side of the block or the frame of the vehicle. Remove the ground cable from the engine or the frame.

Remove the positive battery cable from the battery. Follow it down to the starter, removing it from any cable ties or brackets as you go. Remove the cable from the starter, using the wrench. Put the nut back on the post on the starter so you don't lose it.

Clean the battery terminals using baking soda and water, and the battery terminal cleaner, if acid is built up on the terminals. Dry the terminals.

Connect the new positive cable to the starter, using the wrench. Route the cable up through its ties and/or brackets. Attach the positive cable to the positive battery terminal and tighten the cable terminal, using a wrench.

Connect the negative cable to its ground. Connect the battery end of the cable to the battery, using the appropriate wrench.


  • Most cables come with terminals on them. If your new cables do not have terminals on them, strip about an inch of insulation from the end of the cable. Slide it into new terminals and tighten the bolts, using a wrench.
  • If the battery cable has additional leads at the battery, remove the nuts holding the leads, using the appropriate wrench, and attach the leads on the new cable, then tighten the bolts.

Items you will need

About the Author

Cayden Conor has been writing since 1996. She has been published on several websites and in the winter 1996 issue of "QECE." Conor specializes in home and garden, dogs, legal, automotive and business subjects, with years of hands-on experience in these areas. She has an Associate of Science (paralegal) from Manchester Community College and studied computer science, criminology and education at University of Tampa.

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