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Old 08-29-2010, 08:05 PM   #1
icelt
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Default Battery Lead - Nasty Corrosion with Photos

My car - '02 WRX Wagon, no significant AM mod's.

So today after finding that my car would not start I enlisted the help of a neighbor for a jump. It didn't work out so well . Photographs follow:

Melted Jumper Cables :



Offending Battery now who would let it get this bad :


JIC - I started off connecting the neg lead to my chassis. Then I connected the pos & neg leads to the jump battery and finally the pos to my battery. As soon as I connected the pos to my battery there was a little sparking, but it didn't seem excessive at all in my experience. However very shortly thereafter, maybe 10 secs, the insulation began to smoke. So after a few seconds of internalized "WTF " we removed the clamps and gave up on the jump .

The battery is a good 3 years old and I know it is my bad for ignoring the post corrosion issue for this long. I won't name names, but a local dealership installed the battery and apparently didn't use a dialectic paste/spray like they should have and I never returned to have them address it.

Regardless of how I got here my main focus now, what is the best course of action? I don't know if I can get the corroded clamp off with the tools I have therefore I'm a little leery of trying to replace the battery myself. Especially if the short that melted the jumper cables is not directly associated with the battery.

How likely is the short associated with the corrosion I ignored?

I've checked all the interior elec's I can and everything that you would expect to run off elec power still seems functional (all gauge lights, interior light, windows, clock, access lights). The only thing that doesn't respond at all is the radio/cd player, but I'm hoping that is simply because the battery is so low on charge. I also checked the water levels in the battery and they seem fine.

Lastly, money is a little tight for me right now. I would love to handle this myself to save on towing charges etc, but I am also reasonable enough to admit when something is over my head. This is where I hope the experienced feedback from the community can help direct me a little.

Thanks in advance as always.
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Last edited by icelt; 09-08-2010 at 01:09 PM.
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Old 08-29-2010, 09:57 PM   #2
Henry H
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Ouch. I've never heard of corrosion leading to a battery to short itself. If it did then I think your battery problem before the jump was much worse than a dying battery. Me thinks the jumper cables were mixed up on the jumper battery end. That is the only way I can think of where a jumpstart would end up in smoking cables.
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Old 08-30-2010, 08:55 AM   #3
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The ONLY way to do that to a jumper cable is to have polarity reversed on one end.

So... Clean off the battery with water/baking soda, while wearing old clothes! Clean off the clamp also, they both should be perfectly clean. Once you have that done, recharge the battery with a good battery charger, don't jump it unless absolutely necessary.
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Old 08-30-2010, 05:37 PM   #4
icelt
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Yeah, my first order of business is to thoroughly clean off the terminal and clamp. I've jumped this battery before w/o incident, with the exact same jumper cables even, so once everything is cleaned up I see no reason to not give it another shot.
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Old 08-31-2010, 11:07 AM   #5
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I suggest you try charging the battery up with a charger after you clean up the posts. If that works ok you may be able to use the battery for a while longer. You are most likely going to have to replace the positive battery clamp.
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Old 08-31-2010, 05:19 PM   #6
icelt
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cougar4 View Post
I suggest you try charging the battery up with a charger after you clean up the posts. If that works ok you may be able to use the battery for a while longer. You are most likely going to have to replace the positive battery clamp.
Ok, I'll see if a local shop can help me with the charging. I've got to remove the thing to get it properly cleaned anyway. Thanks for the feedback. I agree on the clamp being fubar'd too.
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Old 08-31-2010, 06:27 PM   #7
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ONE: wear goggles! Sulphuric acid can and will either burn you or blind you. Don't take that risk!

TWO: remove the battery from the car.

THREE: charge battery out of car.

At this point I would think that you would want to avoid another mishap and/or the potential for burning something else (e.g. main harness; car).

Not busting chops here either.
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Old 09-08-2010, 11:54 AM   #8
icelt
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1st off - thanks to everyone for their input. Quite helpful.


Ok after some effort I managed to remove the positive terminal clamp from the battery . However, when trying to unbolt the clamp from the lead... well this is what happened:




So now I'm off to Sears to get a replacement lead "clip" or w/e, positive clamp and new battery.

More fun. BTW the terminal nut was re-mfr from 12mm to 11mm. Actually, neglect is never that funny but it is still kinda funny.
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Old 09-08-2010, 12:10 PM   #9
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Not surprising given the amount of corrosion. You are going to have to replace the entire positive cable as the corrosion undoubtedly runs far up the wire. You can't just crimp a new terminal on that and call it a day.
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Old 09-08-2010, 12:41 PM   #10
icelt
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mulder View Post
Not surprising given the amount of corrosion. You are going to have to replace the entire positive cable as the corrosion undoubtedly runs far up the wire. You can't just crimp a new terminal on that and call it a day.
Ugh. Back checking what remains of the lead, you are correct. Also it is not simply one large strand of braided copper wire, there is at least one smaller power lead that terminates at this junction. Thanks for highlighting that.

Gah again. Oh well, I earned this one all by myself no sense :censored: about it.

Can NTB be trusted for work like this or do I need to find a more capable local shop?

Edit...

Welp now that I've found the related parts diagram:


Looks like all I need is a new "battery cable" (5) and "positive terminal" (7). Sum total about $60 online.

How difficult might this work be for one person though?

Last edited by icelt; 09-08-2010 at 01:04 PM.
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Old 09-08-2010, 01:12 PM   #11
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Your terminal will clean up nicely, just first hit it with baking soda + water to neutralize it, and then scrub it up with a wire brush. Should look like new. They are only a couple bucks to replace though if you want to go that route...

You can get better than oem quality battery cables at any autoparts store for not much $$$, even walmart has a bunch of them. Just make sure to get one the same length or slightly longer than what you had previously.


One thing to keep in mind working around battery corrosion. Its relatively harmless dry powder until it gets wet. if you get it in your eyes, you may lose your eyesight. WEAR googles! Also, it will eat holes in clothing, but not until you wash them. The reason for the baking soda + water is to neutralize it, end result is salt water.
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Old 09-08-2010, 01:38 PM   #12
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The heavier cable goes to the starter, the smaller one is the main power lead for the car and goes to the fuse box. You can buy the OEM parts or make your own, if you do the latter just be sure to use at least the same gauge wire and attach the terminals securely.
The starter cable can be replaced with a "universal starter to switch" cable from Sears or any parts store, it will be a 4ga. cable with large ring terminals on both ends. For a stock WRX battery it needs to be at least 24" long, a little longer is ok. When replacing the starter cable, especially if you go aftermarket, it is very important to follow the same routing as the original cable to remove any stress and keep it away from the engine.
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Old 09-08-2010, 03:07 PM   #13
icelt
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mulder View Post
The heavier cable goes to the starter, the smaller one is the main power lead for the car and goes to the fuse box. You can buy the OEM parts or make your own, if you do the latter just be sure to use at least the same gauge wire and attach the terminals securely.
The starter cable can be replaced with a "universal starter to switch" cable from Sears or any parts store, it will be a 4ga. cable with large ring terminals on both ends. For a stock WRX battery it needs to be at least 24" long, a little longer is ok. When replacing the starter cable, especially if you go aftermarket, it is very important to follow the same routing as the original cable to remove any stress and keep it away from the engine.
Thanks again for the input. Man if I had another car and a better work environment I'd very much like to do this myself. However I'm reliant on friends for getting around and the ambient lighting around my parking spot is poor to say the least.

So I'm going to utilize the shop route. It will cost more, but it limits the burden on my friends and given the variables I think it is the best option for me.
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Old 09-08-2010, 05:39 PM   #14
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1) You can melt the plastic sheathing off the jumper cables w/o reversing the polarities. I've done it before. They were cheap azz cables (that looked a lot like yours) & if I'm remembering right, I had a bad connection where the ground bolted to the block.

2) Did you get the battery checked to see if it's still good? I'll be surprised if it is. If replacing the cables doesn't fix it go to autozone & have them check the battery.
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Old 09-08-2010, 05:46 PM   #15
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One little point about jumper cables in general. You connect the positive cables first and then the negatives. Running vehicle to the battery post first and then dead vehicle to the engine/chassis ground. Less chance of a H bomb if the battery is out gassing.
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Old 09-08-2010, 08:52 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by icelt View Post
I started off connecting the neg lead to my chassis. Then I connected the pos & neg leads to the jump battery and finally the pos to my battery. As soon as I connected the pos to my battery there was a little sparking, but it didn't seem excessive at all in my experience. However very shortly thereafter, maybe 10 secs, the insulation began to smoke.
Ok - hook them up positive to positive, then negative to ground (or negative - most cars ground the negative to the chassis)

If they started melting/smoking when you hooked them up (without trying to start your car) you probably connected the terminals positive to negative (i.e., backwards)

When buying jumper cables, get the most manly/heavy gauge ones you can find.

Clean up the battery and the area around it - you want to neutralize the battery acid which is on top of the battery, and probably under it and on the car now, as well - just make up a slurry of baking soda in water and put it on the acid (it will foam/bubble until neutralized) then rinse everything off. Pick up some spacers from the parts department for battery terminals (they look like a little red and green pad) and after you clean off the corrosion, put them on the lugs on the battery, then put on the terminals, then put silicone grease or some other protectant on top of the terminals - that way your terminals/lugs will stay clean/corrosion free.

Alternatively - ditch the battery and pick up an AGM one rather than a liquid filled one - they don't leak (even if you poke holes in them).
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Old 09-09-2010, 02:23 PM   #17
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Did you buy those jumper cables at the Dollar store? Auto zone will charge and test your battery for you.
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Old 09-09-2010, 08:51 PM   #18
icelt
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rick-l View Post
Did you buy those jumper cables at the Dollar store? Auto zone will charge and test your battery for you.
No, Target I believe. And apparently you missed the part where I stated I've used these same cables to jump this same car before.


Anyway...

Before:


After:


Hmmm... seems a minor-ish improvement

So it was the battery that shorted somehow. Also no fried ECU or anything. Everything's just peachy again .
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Old 09-10-2010, 01:14 AM   #19
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Nice job. It's going to be a long time before you need to work on the battery again.
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Old 09-10-2010, 06:12 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by icelt View Post
So it was the battery that shorted somehow. Also no fried ECU or anything. Everything's just peachy again .
That's what I figured. The only way you can melt the cables w/o frying your electrical system is if there is a short @ the battery. Congratulations, you've earned your 12 volt merit badge.
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