Have you ever had trouble starting your car? It could be that a corroded battery terminal is to blame. The metal end of the battery can become eaten away by corrosion, which compromises its ability to connect with your vehicle’s system to provide electricity and recharge the alternator when needed. Over time this problem can get worse, eventually leading to extensive damage to your battery terminal ends.
If you don’t maintain your car properly, corrosion on the battery can cause more than just a headache. The damage will reduce alternator output by 30% and stress your vehicle’s charging system. Without enough power to crank up the engine, it’ll stop running when that connection is lost.
How much does it cost to replace your car’s battery terminals?
The average cost to replace the battery terminal ends will be somewhere between $80 and $130, depending on the mechanic you pick for the job and the make and model of the car. If instead, you were to need additional parts replaced, like the cables or the entire battery, then the cost will be higher, sometimes reaching a few $100s.
The terminals of the battery will, in most cases, be part of the battery and if they are damaged you must replace your entire vehicle’s battery. If this were to happen it is recommended that you budget anywhere between $50-$150 depending on which car make/model you have and what battery you need. We also created an in-depth guide showing what people should plan for a new battery for your car.
In some cases, you may need to replace the ends of your battery cables. If this is what’s needed then you should know that they are about $20 at any auto parts store. If you have a mechanic install it, it will cost around $30 and it will take anywhere between 30 and 45 minutes. In most cases, these parts come with new guards and terminals. This will take the final price to about $50 for the part and the labor altogether.
The full process of replacing the terminals
First, a mechanic will unbolt the cable terminals from the battery posts and clean them with terminal spray cleaner. If they’re slightly corroded, you may need to use a wire brush as well. However most of the time, the cables will need to be cut from where they exit each terminal end in order for new ones to take their place entirely. Next, with the battery terminals disconnected and cleaned, you will reconnect your existing cable to the new ones. After they are tightened in place a protective spray is applied for increased safety. YouTube has an easy-to-follow video that demonstrates this process step by step.
What can be the cause of the battery corrosion?
The corrosion on your car battery terminals will be due to the hydrogen gas that’s been released from the acidic liquid inside of it. The majority of this corrosion is going to come because of bimetallic contact between copper and lead alloys, but some could also stem from atmospheric reactions beneath closed hoods as well.
When corrosion is found on the negative terminal, this can be a sign that your car battery is undercharging your car. However, if it’s located on the positive terminal of your vehicle’s battery then you might have overcharging problems which could lead to the deterioration or permanent damage to other components in your engine as well. Most of the time the issue is undercharging from a dying battery, so usually the corrosion will be on the negative terminal.
Important things to consider
A little bit of corrosion is all it takes for your vehicle’s starter to fail, which can lead to a lot more costly issues. It is recommended that you get the problem resolved as soon as possible because if not taken care of immediately, this issue could result in slower cranking and overheated starter motor windings. Depending on how bad the damage has become before being addressed, these repairs sometimes cost up to $400 or even more depending on the mechanic you work with.
If you’re handy with a wrench, consider saving up to $50 and doing your own car repairs. If not, do keep in mind that this is one job where it may be easier for the pro than the amateur! Before fixing anything yourself – make sure you have all of these tools: pliers, socket set-wrench set. The internet is full of step-by-step guides on how to get this issue fixed on your own.
When you see a green/white-like color around the battery terminals, or if your car won’t start and /or the battery light illuminates on your dashboard then it may be time to replace terminal ends.
As AGCO Auto points out with regard to terminal corrosion – if you’re experiencing this problem, then there is likely something bigger going wrong. Perhaps your battery has experienced some leakage from one of its post areas which creates a corrosive liquid that eats through metal like electrical wiring, body panels, and anything else it touches.