positive battery wire help - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums
Corolla 7th Generation (1993-1997) Specific discussion of the 7th generation

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post #1 of 11 Old 09-01-2015, 10:23 AM Thread Starter
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positive battery wire help

my car wouldn't start last week at the supermarket. as soon as i'd turn the key to the 'on' position, all of my dash lights would turn off, and nothing worked until i reseated the negative terminal. but if i tried to start it again, the same thing would happen.

with the help of a good samaritan (he said he was a mechanic for the local chevy dealer), we found out that the smaller wire that's bolted to the positive terminal had a loose connection. he also said i should get that wire replaced, or at least straightened out, because it has a pretty tight bend in it right before it goes into the ring terminal.

see what i mean?


i was actually already planning on replacing both of the battery terminals because i want to add an amp and do the 'big 3' upgrade. i know that the other, larger wire goes straight to the starter, but what about the kinked one?



the FSM makes it look like it comes off the battery, and then it splits into possibly 7 different wires?! does it actually do that?

i'm hesitant to just split open that section of the harness, because i've seen people on here say that the wires are super brittle from age and that i'll cause even more damage.

@[email protected] i'm so confused. if someone could clear this up for me, i'd be most appreciative.
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post #2 of 11 Old 09-01-2015, 09:00 PM
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Yes, the smaller positive cables splits off and powers ALL electronic systems in the car (other than starter). Two items of interest:

1. "Reseat negative terminal" by hand? Is it loose enough that you can affect a change by hand? And after you "reseat", can you turn key to ON without dash lights going out?

2. Positive battery clamp and ring-terminal. Did you install that? The right-angle bend isn't a problem, electrons have no issues going around a corner.

The main issue is you have low-quality repairs that causes big and long-term issues. One is that clamp-on battery terminal and the other is the ring-terminal. Notice where the wire-clamp connects to the ring? It shrinks down in cross-sectional area much smaller than the cable and causes a lot of resistance and heat. The wire is also exposed, allowing moisture to creep down between the wire-strands and cause green/black wire disease.




Once you start adding more load to this wiring with amps, the extra heat will just accelerate the cable's corrosion and break-down. If you're willing to do a high-quality repair for $30-50 that will last 50-years, I can offer some instructions. Please post photos showing how the big positive starter and negstive ground cables connects to the battery clamps.

Last edited by DannoXYZ; 09-01-2015 at 09:16 PM.
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post #3 of 11 Old 09-01-2015, 10:19 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ View Post
Yes, the smaller positive cables splits off and powers ALL electronic systems in the car (other than starter). Two items of interest:

1. "Reseat negative terminal" by hand? Is it loose enough that you can affect a change by hand? And after you "reseat", can you turn key to ON without dash lights going out?

2. Positive battery clamp and ring-terminal. Did you install that? The right-angle bend isn't a problem, electrons have no issues going around a corner.

The main issue is you have low-quality repairs that causes big and long-term issues. One is that clamp-on battery terminal and the other is the ring-terminal. Notice where the wire-clamp connects to the ring? It shrinks down in cross-sectional area much smaller than the cable and causes a lot of resistance and heat. The wire is also exposed, allowing moisture to creep down between the wire-strands and cause green/black wire disease.

Once you start adding more load to this wiring with amps, the extra heat will just accelerate the cable's corrosion and break-down. If you're willing to do a high-quality repair for $30-50 that will last 50-years, I can offer some instructions. Please post photos showing how the big positive starter and negstive ground cables connects to the battery clamps.
1. yeah, by hand. it's the oem negative terminal, but it's missing the bolt and 10mm nut. luckily, it seems tight enough to stay on by itself. i wouldn't worry about the no start problem. after i tightened down the ring terminal on the + battery terminal, i haven't had any more problems. but that incident has made replacing the terminals and rewiring a top priority.




2. no, that's how it came when i bought the car. my other corolla has the stock one on it, so i knew right away that this one wasn't original. it looks like a generic one from an auto parts store.




this wiring thing is just one of many problems that i'm slowly but surely fixing on this car. and like i said, i've been planning on upgrading this portion of the electrical system for awhile now. i've found some battery terminals and 4-gauge wire made by knukonceptz that i think would work well.
for the positive side:
battery terminal
power wire
fuse holder

for the negative side:
battery terminal
ground wire
and i've found these to use for ring terminals.

let me know what you think. i would absolutely love your advice with this, because i've never rewired something this critical before. the most i've done is wiring for the speakers.
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post #4 of 11 Old 09-04-2015, 04:21 PM
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Danno, what are your 50 year instructions? I don't have any issues like this, but I'd like to learn something here.
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post #5 of 11 Old 09-04-2015, 06:28 PM
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A little background, I started making & selling replacement wiring, lighting & ECU harness kits back in 2001 with a partner (an Army electrical engineer). Catered mainly to the German car crowd, Porsche, Audi, BMW, VW, etc. About 75% of all Porsches ever made are still on the road today, so there's a market for pretty much any and all factory parts.

Rather than just making OEM wiring, I upgraded the specs and performance and gave a 10-year warranty (15-years later, no claims yet and most installations look brand-new). I incorporated designs from aerospace, mil-spec and Formula-1 wiring. These types of wiring demand durability and reliability with F1 throwing in extreme-performance requirements.


This popular lighting-upgrade kit uses exact same 55/60w power-consumption as stock. Difference is in more efficient wiring and lights.


Overall theme is balance of all components. Your list of wiring & connectors is mis-matched in that the 4/0 cable can handle +400-amps, but the battery and alternator will never be able to sustain that level. And the crimp-on ring-terminal has a cross-sectional area less than 10% of the wiring. Any single point of bottleneck dictates the maximum-throughput of the entire system. So 90% of your cable's capacity is wasted by the narrow ring-terminal connection. For anything above 10-amps, use lugs. Also add capacitors at the amp to provide overhead power above RMS levels. Here's the components & procedures I use.

COMPONENTS

- mil-spec cable has each wire-strand individually tinned to prevent green/black wire-disease in the event the insulation is breached. Also makes soldering easier.

- mil-spec cable uses high-temp insulation with 150-200C rating. That means silicone, ETFE or FEP insulation. Common PVC used in most wiring is only good up to 100C and many places in the engine-compartment is hotter than that. The temp-limit affects durability and PVC insulation won't last more than 10-15 years in hot engine-compartment (it will work longer than that if you don't touch or move it). It gets crispy and can crack with vibration & movement. Cracks then let in moisture which starts green/black wire-disease.

- mil-spec battery connectors made from zinc are more conductive than lead or stainless-steel. Also not affected by battery-acid. Use anti-acid rings and protective-coating over the terminals once everything's installed. The large 3/8" cable-lug clamp-bolt also provides larger contact surface-area to transmit lots of power. Example: NOCO TZKIT3

- tinned solder-pot lugs on cable ends, crimped, soldered and wrapped. Stamped steel terminals are thin, don't conduct well, and wear out quickly with weight of cable and vibration. Example: tinned seamless lugs

- fibreglass or carbon-fibre sleeve on the wire for true abrasion & heat-resistance. Most stuff on the market is polyester or some other plastic that's for show, but will rip or melt when facing engine-compartment conditions. Such as being pulled through the firewall or accidentally touching the exhaust.

- chemical-shrink wrap rather than heat-shrink. Has tighter 5 to 8:1 shrink-ratio for tighter wrapping and sealing. Also has higher heat-resistance once applied.



PROCEDURES

- drill hole in end of lug for solder
- install cable and crimp
- heat lug and completely fill with solder to maximize contact surface-area. Note lug is much thicker and has wider contact area for transmitting power across.
- wrap & shrink joint to seal against moisture. Also provides a mechanical strain-relief between flexible-cable and stiff lug.
- install fibreglass sleeving, wrap & shrink over one end, stretch sleeve and wrap & shrink other end

The result is a cable with ends that can actually transfer all the power that the cable can handle. Also mechanically strong with heat & weather resistance to last 50-years!

Last edited by DannoXYZ; 09-04-2015 at 11:36 PM.
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post #6 of 11 Old 09-05-2015, 12:53 AM
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I got bulbs for some Marchal SEVs back in the '90s, from J.C. Whitney, and they were Narva brand.


2000 Corolla CE Automatic
2005 Mustang GT Premium coupe, 5 speed
1988 Mustang GT 5.0. 5 speed, lots of mods
1977 F150 Straight 6, 3 on the tree
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post #7 of 11 Old 09-05-2015, 05:55 AM
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Yeah, Marchals and Z-beams forever!!! Narva is brand of Philips and Valeo is Cibie.

Last edited by DannoXYZ; 09-05-2015 at 06:03 AM.
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post #8 of 11 Old 09-05-2015, 09:09 AM Thread Starter
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i guess i'll start with what i found for materials.

for wire, there's some marine wire. i don't know if that's as good as mil-spec, but if it isn't, i also went googling for actual mil-spec wire and found this.

the sleeving and the shrink wrap were more difficult to find because i'm not sure what size of sleeves i need, and it's sometimes hard to tell if it's actual carbon fiber or just carbon fiber colored.

sleeves

shrink wrap

-i've never soldered before, but my wife has (she makes stained glass windows) and i'm sure she's willing to teach me. is it difficult to do? how much and what kind of solder do i need?

-if the wire links i provided are no good, are there more detailed specifications i need to look for when shopping for wire?

-what kind of drill bit is that?

-are those star crimpers better than a hammer type?

-for the battery terminals, would i attach all the wires directly to it, or would a distribution block be a good idea?
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post #9 of 11 Old 09-05-2015, 11:41 PM
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Let's define the scope of this project and make selections that appropriate for you. I don't think you're going to be keeping this car for 50-years, so we don't need to have the ultimate specs. Something better than OEM should be OK.

Start with a diagram of your car and place the amps in their final locations. This will let you measure the cable runs so you can order correct lengths by the foot.

- drill bit is a "speed bit" for making holes in sheet-metal. Any regular 1/8" drill bit will work fine.

- hammer crimper should be OK if you already have one. I don't like the odd shape afterwards; even the hex-shaped hydraulic crimpers didn't feel right. For OEM feel, I wanted round crimps. You can get those vise crimping dies from Summit Racing

- soldering is simple, you'll get the hang of it quickly. This 100gm spool of solder should get you started. Maybe get 2 or 3 spools. Avoid lead-free solder, it doesn't adhere or conduct well. Cracks and crumbles away in about 10-yrs.

- tinned marine wire is easier to find and you can order by the foot on ebay. You won't need super-high heat rating if you wrap with fibreglass and be careful about routing near exhaust.

- fibreglass sleeves will be easier to work with (CF tends to make the cable too stiff. ebay - 5m of 8mm silicone/fibreglass wire sleeve. They are typically listed as the smallest size when stretched out. You squeeze the ends together and it expands into larger diameter.

- even better deal on solder lugs

- with multiple layers of shrink-tubing over the lug joint and on top the sleeving, you should fine with regular heat-shrink tubing assortment

- you can fit up to four lugs on the battery connector. Place the lugs back-to-back so the flat parts touch. One starter cable, one for car's electronics and one for amps should be all you need. If you're going to have more than one amp, put distribution block inside somewhere so you can minimize the total length of wiring needed.

You can salvage the existing positive cables by unclamping them, unravel the ends, flatten the bundle and sand the corrosion off. Flip them over so you can sand all around. Then twist back together, crimp into lug, solder and shrink-wrap. This is only in cases where the green/black wire disease hasn't gotten too far so as to be terminal.
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Last edited by DannoXYZ; 09-06-2015 at 12:11 AM.
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post #10 of 11 Old 09-06-2015, 01:55 PM Thread Starter
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first of all, thank you so much for all this information. i have a rough estimate on how much i need to spend, and eventhough it's a little more than i thought i would need to spend, i'm confident that this is the better way to go. especially compared to my original list of substandard components.

a few more follow up questions, if you don't mind:

1. i don't plan on reusing the old positive cables at all, if i can help it. i'd rather have uniformity and peace of mind. taking that into consideration, what can be done about the white wire with the bend in it? does it split off into multiple wires before going into the fuse box? i think if i tried to re-terminate it, i wouldn't have enough wire to do that after snipping off the old ring terminal.

2. when soldering, do i want to hold the wire at an upward angle to sort of help the solder flow into the hole i drill, or does it get sucked in on its own?

3. with that fiberglass sleeving, will it stay together after i cut it, or do i need to melt the ends a bit with a lighter?

sorry for all the questions, but i want to make sure i do this right the first time.
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post #11 of 11 Old 09-08-2015, 12:35 AM
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The starter and white fuse-box cables may really be Ok. It was just the poor-quality clamp-style connector that was causing you problems. Remove about 1" of insulation from the end to inspect the cable-strands, they may really be OK. You can cover up that bare section with heat-shrink tubing after crimping & soldering on lugs.

1. the white wire goes to the fuse box, then is split into those other circuits. Most likely with a buss-bar configuration, but haven't taken apart the fuse box to verify. Anyone else done this and know for sure?

To remove the ring-terminal, use wire-cutters to remove the outer insulation. Then aim the cutter's tips at each end of the split in the clamp. Squeeze and it should expand the clamp and release the cable. Scrub cable-strands with a solution of baking-soda to remove corrosion, then follow with mild sanding. The new lug and battery-connector should allow you to aim the cable-end 45-degree downward, so you'll have no sudden bends and some more slack.

2. To solder those big lugs with a solidly crimped cable inside, you'll need small torch (or a gillion-watt soldering iron). Your wife should have one for stained-glass work. The trick is you need to heat up the lug and wires inside to the melting point of solder first, then feed the solder into the hole. Orientation shouldn't matter too much because capillary-action will suck the solder into the joint and towards the heat (about 4-6" of solder needed per lug). If the stuff you want to solder isn't hot enough, the molten solder will solidify into a ball and just sit on top.

With regular wiring, you touch the iron to the wire joint on the bottom (heat rises). Then feed the solder into the joint; easier if you touch both the wire and soldering iron at the same time.

3. The fibreglass sleeve does stay together, but you don't want to be too rough. Push it over the cable and expand just enough to slide to other end. Then wrap the ends with rubber-bands to hold in place. The slide your heat-shrink tubing over the rubber-band and fibreglass. Slide off the rubber-band and your heat-shrink tubing should be close to the correct position. Line everything and heat to shrink Stretch sleeve tight and work on the other end.

Have fun!
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