How Much Does a Car Battery Terminal Replacement Cost?

Written by: Staff

A corroded battery terminal can cause a lot of problems for your car aside from the rough starting.   These terminal ends are critical as they enture the battery is always connected to your car’s system, providing the electricity it needs for cranking and allowing the battery to recharge the alternator when the car is running.  Over time, corrosion can eat away at the metal, eventually compromising your battery terminal ends.

The corrosion on a battery, regardless of how extreme it may appear, can reduce your car’s alternator output by more than 30 percent, causing a lot of stress on your vehicle’s charging system, according to

Without a constant connection, your car will not crank, effectively stopping the engine from running.

KN13 Pulsar SE - JDM CA18DE Plumbing 24 by 3ndymion!!!, on Flickr
KN13 Pulsar SE – JDM CA18DE Plumbing 24” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by 3ndymion!!!

How much does it cost to replace your car’s battery terminals?

In most cases, the battery terminals, unfortunately, will be part of the battery and if the terminals are damaged, you will have to replace the entire battery.  If this were the situation, and in most cases, it will be, plan on spending anywhere from $50 to $150 depending on the make/model of the vehicle.  In the past, we did create an in-depth guide, showing you what you should budget for a new car battery.

Now, if you’re talking about the terminations at the end of the battery cables and they need to be replaced, then in most cases, the parts, which can be found at just about any auto parts store, will be about $20.  If you were to hire a professional, again, you’re looking at about $20~ for parts and another 15 to 30 minutes in shop time.  This fee should include new plastic guards and terminals.  Seeing almost all mechanics will charge you based on the time invested, plan on spending another $30~ for 30 minutes worth of work, effectively bringing the grand total to $50~ if you were to hire a professional.  Granted, this fee will be an estimate to replace the terminals only.  If you needed the cables or the entire battery replaced, then the costs could reach well into the $100s., for instance, claims the average price to replace the battery terminal ends can range from $75 to $115, depending on the car you drive and who you hire.

The process when replacing the terminals

First, the cable terminals will be unbolted from the battery and both the battery posts and the terminals will be cleaned with a terminal spray cleaner and wire brush if the battery terminals are slightly corroded.  However, in most cases, a mechanic will replace the terminals entirely by cutting the cable where it exits the terminal.  Next, with the battery terminals disconnected, the existing cable will be reattached to the new terminals and will be tightened in place after the battery terminals are cleaned.  Once tightened in place, the battery and the ends will be coated with a battery protection spray.  This video shows you how the process is done.

What causes the battery corrosion?

The corrosion on your terminals will be due to the hydrogen gas that’s being released from the acid inside the battery.  Most of the corrosion will be due to the bimetal contact between the copper and lead alloys, however. As it mixes with the atmosphere underneath the hood, it will produce the corrosion you’re able to see.  Generally, if the corrosion is found on the negative terminal, this is a good sign your system is undercharging; however, if it’s on the positive terminal, then this is a sign of your car overcharging.   In most cases, from a mechanic’s point of view, you will often see the corrosion on the negative side.

Tips to know

At the first sign of corrosion, it’s highly recommended you get the problem resolved immediately as failing to remedy the issue can lead to premature starter failure, slower cranking and overheated starter motor windings.  These repairs, in some cases, can be more than $400 if you were to hire a professional.

If you have the know-how when it comes to simple car repairs, consider doing the job on your own to save up to $50; however, before doing so, do keep in mind this procedure may result in injury if not followed properly.  The job will require a hacksaw, pliers, socket set, wire brush and wrench set to perform the job properly, and, the website we referenced earlier, shows you how it can be done.  This how-to guide is helpful, too.

You may know it is time to replace your terminal ends when you either see a green/white-like color around the battery terminals, the car won’t start and/or the battery light illuminates on your dashboard. notes terminal corrosion can often be a symptom of a larger problem, oftentimes a leaking battery.  As the acid leaks around the battery post, it will corrode the terminals, eat away at the body panels, electrical wiring and almost anything else within reach.

How to clean car battery terminals

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