A car battery terminal with severe corrosion.

Battery Terminal End: Failure Symptoms

Being able to engage your car’s ignition and turn it on without giving it a second thought is something a lot of drivers take for granted. However, trouble may manifest itself in a variety of ways, including with your car’s battery, which supplies electricity for ignition. Problems with a battery terminal end can leave you stranded, but the solutions are easy to identify and relatively simple to mend.

Signs of Battery Terminal Trouble

The battery terminal end serves as the connection point between a vehicle’s electrical system and the battery itself. When trouble occurs, it can typically be spotted by the following warning signs:

1. Difficulty starting the vehicle.

A set of battery terminals.Turn your key to “start” or push your ignition button and you may hear a long, slow crank or nothing at all. Lift the hood, locate the battery and examine the terminals. They are the electrical contacts that connect to the battery posts. Typically, corrosion is present at the contact points if there’s a problem.

2. A decrease in electrical power.

While finding it difficult to start your car is one of the more obvious signs of a loss of electrical power, there are a number of ways an issue may arise. For instance, the headlamps may fade or flicker, the audio or navigation systems may slow down or the dashboard may grow dim. Generally, any electrically supplied interface may simply stop working when electrical issues appear.

How to Fix Battery Terminal End Problems

Now that we know what can cause battery terminal failure, we’ll turn our attention to possible solutions.

1. Clean the battery post and terminal ends: If corrosion is present where the terminal ends meet the battery posts, then a good cleaning could solve the issue. Here, you’ll lift the terminal covers, disconnect the battery, choose and apply your cleaning agent and then rinse and wipe the connection points dry before reconnecting them.

2. Examine the cables: The battery terminal end connects to a cable. If your car still doesn’t start after you remove the residue off of the terminal ends, then the ends or the cable may need to be replaced. Look for signs of wear and replace the parts if necessary.

3. Test and replace the battery, if needed: Still having problems starting your car? If so, the issue could be the battery itself. You can confirm this by using a multimeter to determine the battery’s strength. A reading of 12.4 volts or higher means the battery is in good condition, while a lower reading means that the battery is ready for replacement.

Stay Connected

A faulty battery terminal end may be just one part of the car’s electrical problems. If all replacement problems fail, the trouble may lie with the ignition or the alternator. You can use a multimeter to check the ignition system and a voltmeter to test the alternator.

Check out all the electrical system products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 16,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on car battery chemistry, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

about author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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