How to Crimp Battery Cables

Written by mary lougee
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How to Crimp Battery Cables
Replace defective battery cables. (dead battery image by Katrina Miller from

Battery cables contain a bundle of copper wires to conduct electricity within a protective coating that prevents sparks and short circuits. Older battery cables corrode near the terminals or may acquire nicks in the protective coating. Either of these items results in an electricity drop and lowers the power to the engine. Make new battery cables by crimping a battery terminal onto a new cable.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 4-gauge battery cable
  • Cable cutters
  • Large wire strippers
  • Shrink tubing
  • 4-gauge battery terminal
  • Crimping tool
  • Cigarette lighter
  • 5/16-inch bolt and nut

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  1. 1

    Cut 4-gauge battery cable with cable cutters to the length of the original cable or measure the length needed on the car for longer cables.

  2. 2

    Place a pair of large wire strippers on one end of the cable about 1 inch from the end. Squeeze the wire strippers together and turn them in a circle to cut through the exterior coating on the battery cable. Press the handles of the wire strippers together firmly and pull straight off the end of the cable to remove the protective coating.

  3. 3

    Slide a shrink tube over the stripped end of the battery cable.

  4. 4

    Slide a 4-gauge battery terminal on the end of the stripped cable. Press the cable into the terminal as far as it will go.

  5. 5

    Place crimping tool on the bottom of the battery terminal farthest from the metal end. Squeeze the crimping tool tightly. Repeat this process to crimp the top of the battery terminal that is closest to the metal end. There are crimping lines on the battery terminal coating that covers the cable.

  6. 6

    Slide the shrink tubing up to cover the junction of the terminal and the cable.

  7. 7

    Light a cigarette lighter and pass the flame back and forth 1/2-inch from the tube. Do not touch the flame to the tube. The heat from the cigarette lighter will shrink the tubing so the adhesive inside the tubing sticks to the cable and terminal.

  8. 8

    Slide a 5/16-inch bolt from the outside of one hole in the terminal through the other hole in the terminal. Screw a 5/16-inch nut on the bolt hand tight. Tighten the terminal onto the battery post with an adjustable wrench.

Tips and warnings

  • Use battery terminals with black and red marks to identify each battery cable. Black markings are for negative (-) battery posts and red markings are for positive (+) battery posts. Turn the colour side of the battery cable up when installing on a battery so the polarity is easy to distinguish.
  • Shrink tubing adds a protective layer between the battery terminal and cable so corrosion cannot occur at this point.
  • Other items that melt shrink tubing include hand-held torches, halogen work lights and hair dryers on the high heat setting.
  • Do not touch shrink tubing with a flame while fastening it. The tubing can catch on fire and melt entirely.

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