Custom built battery cables are another option when battery cables need to be replaced. Why should custom built battery cables be used? If OEM cables are part of the engine harness, or are no longer available, or universal cables just don’t fit right, then custom built battery cables are the answer.
Custom building battery cables may be beyond the ability of some Do-It-Yourselfers and may have to be built by a professionalor ASE Master Certified mechanic. The original cables would have to be taken to a repair shop that employs these types of mechanics such as A & M Alternator Services located at 2419 E. Jackson St. in Phoenix, Auto Electric Specialists located at 5216 W. Lamar Rd. in Glendale, Village Auto Electric Service located at 19 N. Miller St. in Mesa, All Start Electric located at 13501 E. Chandler Blvd. in Chandler, Tom’s Auto Care located at 63 E. McKellips Rd. in Mesa, Jordan’s Automotive Specialists located at 8718 E. McDowell Rd. #3 in Scottsdale, Rob’s Quality Automotive located at 11801 N. Cave Creek Rd. in Phoenix, Scottsdale Pro Tech located at 8245 E. Butheruand Dr. #111 in Scottsdale, and Art’s Family Auto Repair located at 915 W. Hatcher Rd. in Phoenix.
Materials needed to build custom battery cables are two battery cable terminal ends, either side post or top post, depending on the type of battery being used, at least two lugs or eyelet terminals large enough to fit over their respective terminals, i.e., starter terminal, alternator terminal, and ground terminal on the engine or body, etc., red and black heat shrink tubing large enough to fit over the battery cable and ends, and red and black four gauge battery cable cut to length. If the original cables have smaller gauge wires attached to the ends, then new smaller gauge red or black wire cut to the correct length with the necessary terminals, and correct diameter heat shrink will also be needed. Quality black electrical tape may also be needed. Automotive battery cable is recommended for replacement. Audio cable or welding cable is not designed for the rigors to which battery cables are subjected, i.e., oil, heat, moisture, vibration, and environment.
Tools needed to build the cables are heavy duty cable cutters, cable insulation strippers, battery terminal crimping tool, professional heat gun, similar to a hair blow drier, 60/40 rosin core solder, and a small portable propane bottle with a torch.
Materials and tools can be purchased from the local auto parts stores and automotive tool dealers such as NAPA, CarQuest, Federated Auto Parts, O’Reilly, AutoZone, Sears, Snap-on Tools, Matco Tools, Mac Tools, Cornwell Tools. Automotive parts stores sell tools but sometimes only the professional tool dealers will have the tool needed to do the repair.
If the red and black cables have not already been cut to length, then they will need to be cut the same length or slightly longer than the original cables. Starting with the red or positive cable take one end and measure it against the part of the battery terminal end where the cable fits. Mark the insulation with a pen or pencil and strip that amount of insulation off the cable. Make sure the copper strands are bare and clean. Slip a piece of red heat shrink cut to length, about two inches, over the cable and slide it down the cable far enough so that the heat shrink will not be prematurely shrunk when soldering the battery terminal end to the cable. Insert the bare copper strands part of the cable into the battery terminal, crimp, and solder. Crimping and soldering the battery terminal end to the cable provide a very good transfer of electrical energy or current from the cable to the battery terminal end. After crimping the terminal to the cable, apply heat using the propane torch to that portion of the terminal where the copper wiring was inserted into the terminal. When the terminal begins to change color apply solder until the terminal does not accept any more solder. Heat may have to be applied more than once before the terminal cannot accept more solder. After the terminal has cooled slide the heat shrink over the solder joint and apply heat using the professional heat gun, until the heat shrink has shrunk completely. Next go to the other end of the cable. Measure the amount of insulation to be removed. Remove the insulation. Slip the correct lug or eyelet terminal over the bare copper strands. This eyelet terminal would be the one used on the large or battery terminal on the starter, or on the battery terminal of the power distribution center, or the alternator battery terminal. Crimp and solder the terminal. Install heat shrink on the terminal. Use the same procedure for the black or negative cable. When the cables have been built, then they can be installed on the vehicle, making sure the cables are routed and secured properly.