Why are my Forklift’s Battery Cables and Wires Getting so Hot?
If you have ever asked, yourself this question, then it’s time to take note of the warning. Because electric industrial lift trucks run at high current and low voltage that use electrochemical cells as their power source, it is not uncommon to experience an elevated temperature within the system somewhere. However, excessive heating of your electric forklifts components should never be ignored because it is likely an indicator of problems that will only get worse!
Schedule Forklift Battery Cool Down Time
Typical lead-acid industrial batteries heat up when charged and become increasingly more likely to build heat as they age. Operating batteries with internal temperatures above 80-90 degree Fahrenheit reduces the batteries useful life. Many battery manufacturers set 110 degrees Fahrenheit as the maximum temperature for regular operation of their batteries with temperatures of 120 degrees Fahrenheit or higher as the temperature voiding the battery’s warranty. It is important, especially in multiple shift operations, to schedule cool-down periods after the battery has been fully charged. Most multiple shift operations require spare batteries used for change out to allow for time needed for cooling of the first shift’s battery.
Repair Or Replace Hot Wires And Cable On Your Forklift Battery
So we know that batteries get warm and heat up when being used or charged. If battery cables and connectors get hot enough to melt their insulating material, you have a problem. It is best to properly repair or replace continually hot connectors and cable wires as routine maintenance before they can lead to expensive repairs. Often the culprit is a weak contact at the tip of the connectors or a bad crimp at the connections. Sulfuric battery acid can also reach the copper cables by burning holes through the cable insulation corroding the copper wire. If this is the case, you will notice cable swelling. If any cable swelling exists, you must immediately replace all corroded and swollen cables and damaged connectors.
If you are experiencing hot components within your electric forklift system then something is interfering with the clean contacts between the metal conductors, or the overall size of your conducts (battery cables) are too small to carry the current loads needed to be effective. This happens when the lift truck battery has been retrofitted improperly with cables smaller than an adequate gauge. If you think this may be causing your hot cables, check with our battery experts to find out proper cable size to use for your specific battery and charger.
Hot Wire Hot Sheet
Melted connectors, and/or hot cables, do not mean your battery or charger are malfunctioning. The problem likely lies in the connectors and cables themselves. If you are experiencing hot cables check the following:
- Check for cracked, broken or melted battery connectors. If any are found replace.
- Check connector-contacting tips to make sure that contact surfaces are clean. Never use abrasives to clean contact tips.
- If you notice oxidation on contact tips, it means too much heating has occurred. Cut cables back to clean copper. Replace and crimp contact tips properly back in place.
- Inspect for and replace any damaged insulation on cables with proper insulation material. Electrical tape will not last is not considered safe. Replace the cable if insulation is badly damaged.
- Heating nearest the charger end of your battery cable means that there is a problem with the connection within the charger itself. Consult an industrial battery specialist at SSE.
Southern States Enterprises battery maintenance experts are here to help with your lift truck battery needs. Contact us today for more information on our routine battery maintenance programs and avoid getting burned by a hot wire!
Car Battery Terminals Crossed – What Happens If You Put The Battery Cables On Wrong Sides
Automotive batteries can discharge for a host of different reasons, maybe you left the electricals on without the engine running, maybe it’s a parasitic drain eating away your charge, or maybe it’s just that, you don’t drive your vehicle as much – that can do it too.
In any case, if you cant get your car up, jump-starting the battery is a tried and tested solution that you might consider.
Jump starting a vehicle seems like an easy job, you just clamp the connectors and transfer the charge from the good battery to the dead one.
But as simple as it may seem, just the simple mistake of not connecting the terminals right can spell the end for your car battery.
Failing to recognize which is the positive and which negative is not a common occurrence, in fact, most people do actually have it right. But for the curiosity of the reader let’s consider what would happen if the terminals were reversed.
Risks Of Using Jumper Cables In Reverse
Car batteries are a bit more complex than they might appear. When jump-starting a car there are certain caveats to charging your vehicle as the transfer of energy from one battery to another is not as simple as it seems.
Connecting the battery terminals in reverse can cause serious damage to the battery itself, the electrical components, and even to yourself. Each terminal of a car battery uses 12V of current with positive and negative orientation. The cable on the positive terminal uses 12V while the one on the negative side uses.12V.
If the positives and negatives are switched, the battery will try to compensate and make the negative 12 volts into a positive charge resulting in a huge surge of power and an enormous amount of heat to be produced. Needless to say, it will not be tolerated well by the system or the components within and depending on certain factors will incur damage that is mostly going to be severe and irreparable.
Damage To Jumper Cables
With an instant surge of electricity, the first to face the wrath and the consequence of an experiment would the jumper cables. the extreme heat produced will quickly melt the insulators on the jumper cables, clamping them forever on the battery which will be next in line as the plastic top will melt and bend.
Damage To Car Battery
The battery will be warped as the acidic fluids inside will boil from the extreme heat produced in the reaction. Additionally, it may spill to damage parts in the vicinity and you might not be able to do anything about it.
Blown Fuse/Fusible Links
Whether you have an explosion or not depending on the other factors and the condition of the batteries, you will however surely find blown-up fuses and wires in your vehicle.
Damage To Alternator
The vehicle charging the bad battery might also suffer mechanical damage. The surge in power will have a negative effect on the alternator and may even cause irreparable harm.
If the battery is in poor condition or has not been used in a while, jump-starting with cables reversed can worsen the situation. The bad battery can even explode and cause damage to the people around.
Other Things To Consider When Jump Starting
Firstly look in the owner’s manual for any precautions or know-hows before attempting to jump-start. Some cars may use lugs instead of clamps while some vehicle may require certain precautions as removing fuses or turning on defroster. Some newer cars do not allow jump-starting and can even void your warranty so be sure to read the warranty conditions as well.
Do not let the two vehicles touch
Turn both vehicles off before locating the battery
Make sure the terminals aren’t dirty and if they are clean them with a dry cloth.
Verify if the voltage is correct using a multimeter, if the voltages do not match it could spell serious problems for both the batteries.
Remove or turn off accessories and electricals such as headlights, radios, and turn signals as the surge in power will surely short them out
Make sure the vehicle are in neutral.
Check if the fluids aren’t frozen or the battery isn’t warped and bent out of shape. If it is, it could lead to an explosion.
Always start with the bad battery first as it does not have a charge and is safe to operate.
Don’t leave anything under the hood when starting the vehicle
After charging the battery, drive the car for 15-20 minutes to let the alternator fully charge the battery.
How To Connect Jumper Cables Properly
With the potential risk of physical harm and the enormous costs involved in replacing and reprogramming the ECUs, operating a car battery to jump-start without proper knowledge is not a good idea and can land you heavy repairs if you are not careful with the steps.
A car battery has two terminals namely positive and negative. Each terminal can be identified using its color and the sign it uses. Connecting each terminal firmly is extremely important as a loose connection can hinder the process and not effectively charge the battery.
Now with the basics out of the way, let’s get to the very important matter that requires you to be extremely careful and a little on guard.
In electronics, the positive terminal is always connected first in order to avoid a high voltage meet of the semiconductors. When connecting the jumper cables always remember to first clamp cables from the positive terminal of the battery, which is usually red in color and is marked by a positive sign, and only after properly connecting should you begin to connect the cables from the negative terminal, usually represented in black color with a minus (-) sign. Also, be wary of any metal object touching both terminals of the battery simultaneously.
To better understand the implications of not connecting the positive first, let us assume, one has connected the positive terminal first.
When the negative terminal is connected, the whole chassis including the metal bolts holding it in place become grounded, upon which placing the positive terminal, connects the spanner with any common ground resulting in some sparks, splashes in a best-case scenario, and a dead battery or even an explosion of the unit in a nightmarish one.
Connecting the positive terminal first is recommended to ensure the spanner is not able to cause any damage even if it has met the chassis.
On the contrary, it is recommended to start with the negative terminal while disconnecting the cables.
Can Get Electrocuted While Operating A Car Battery?
The current from a 12VDC system is not massive enough that it can harm you, in fact, one might not even be able to detect such low voltages as the current needs to overcome the resistance of and go through. To have any effect on you, the current from the battery will have to penetrate the skin in order to electrocute you.
High voltage sources of current independently are not dangerous, Although there are a few other things that you should look out for when dealing with your car battery such as an acid leak, sparks plug arcing, jumper cables.
Jumper Cables Melted: Possible Causes Solutions
Having their cars’ batteries die sounds like a nightmare to everyone. When that happens, the first thing you should look for is a jumper cable.
But have you ever tried to jumpstart your car just to see your jumper cables melted? That’s like adding salt to the injury!
This technical issue can happen to anyone, but not all of us know how to handle it. Worry no more; you are at the right place!
In this article, we will provide complete information about why your jumper cable gets smoking hot or melts during jumpstart, as well as some methods to deal with the problem. Let’s get started!
So What Is A Jumper Cable?
Most traditional vehicle types, including cars, run on gasoline. That’s something we already know. To start the car, though, we need the car battery.
When you turn the key, and the engine fails to start or when the battery doesn’t hold a charge, it is probably dead, and that’s when you need a jumper cable.
Simply put, a jumper cable is a pair of thick electric cables fitted with alligator clips at both ends. Sometimes, it’s referred to as a booster cable or jump lead.
As you can see from many car battery cables, a set often has two cables of different colors (red and black, black and white, etc.):
To jumpstart your car with a jumper cable, you use the alligator clips to connect the battery with another energy source (typically a portable jump starter or a functional vehicle).
This allows the car to charge the battery and get started, so you can drive it off to the mechanic’s shop and find out the underlying issue.
Many factors can affect a vehicle’s battery life. Weather, forgetting to turn off the lights, or an old/dysfunctional battery are just some of them.
That’s why keeping a jumper cable with you and knowing how to use it are extremely helpful.
However, even this emergency equipment can fail. In some cases, you might see your jumper cables melt and don’t even know what’s happening.
Jumper Cables Melted: The Common Causes
So what causes jumper cables to melt? Well, there are five main reasons: Wrong or reversed cable connection, loose connection, low-quality jumper cables, damaged jumper cables, or a short in the car you want to jump.
Below, we will go deeper into each of them.
Wrong Or Reserved Cable Connection
The most common reason for smoking or melted jumper cables is reversing the connections to the wrong terminal.
When you mistakenly connect the jumper cables, electricity will flow backward through the dead battery.
Automotive mechanics refer to the issue as “reversed polarity“. Within a few seconds, the current flow will release excessive heat, which melts down the jumper cables’ plastic and rubber installations.
Reserving the jumper cables can create disastrous results, including severe damage to the battery and fried electronics.
Under normal conditions, a regular car battery doesn’t have enough voltage to cause serious personal injury, but there have been numerous records of people being shocked by reserved cable connections.
In case you feel a slight tingle or an electric shock, uncrossing the cables will get the polarity back to normal. Keep in mind that the current doesn’t go down to zero immediately, so proceed with caution.
Even if you have connected the jumper cables to the battery source, a loose connection can also result in overheating.
There is a significant amount of electrical current trying to get from one battery to the other. Therefore, electricity will leak and overheat the cables when a connection isn’t fully snug.
If you only get your jumper cable melted, you are lucky. Loose connections may also lead to short-circuiting, which damages the car’s electrical system.
The jumper cable or car battery can catch fire in extreme cases.
Low-Quality Jumper Cables
Sometimes, the culprit behind the issue above is a low-quality jumper cable.
Jumpstarting a dead car battery is quick and easy with a proper jumper cable. However, many manufacturers out there use cheap materials to reduce production costs, and it’s the consumers who suffer.
A good pair of jumper cables should feature clamps with “alligator teeth, ” providing the best bite. Ineffective clamps made of poor materials will make it hard to secure the connections and, well, you know the result.
Additionally, cable wires are made using metallic components. When electricity flows through the wire, each metal will react differently.
Although copper is often the ideal material since it does not become overheated quickly, many manufacturers will opt for aluminum wires since they are less expensive.
An aluminum jumper cable requires more electricity to transmit power from one battery to the other. That means your cable is more likely to get melted.
Damaged Jumper Cables
How you store your jumper cables affects their performance. To ensure your lines function properly, don’t forget to keep them in optimal condition.
Exposing the insulation to poor conditions can damage the copper inside. This affects the wires’ ability to transport electricity.
Using these wires to jumpstart the battery may create dangerous currents that melt down the connection and even wreck your vehicle.
A Short In The Car You Want To Jump
The last thing that can get your jumper cable melted is a short in the car you want to jump.
For example, your vehicle has a battery of 12 V, but the donor car’s battery is 24 V. When this happens, the jumper cables will heat, smoke, and melt immediately.
How To Fix Or Prevent Jumper Cables From Melting?
Unfortunately, there is no way to fix melted jumper cables. They are no longer safe to use anyway.
Still, as long as you stick to this safety guideline, it’s possible to avoid cable melting:
Follow The Safe Order To Attach Jumper Cables
To avoid major problems, such as reversed polarity, you should connect jumper cables to the battery properly.
According to technicians, this is the safest order to attach jumper cables:
- Connect one end of the positive (red) jumper cable to the flat battery’s positive terminal.
- Attach the other end of the positive (red) jumper cable to the donor battery’s positive terminal.
- Attach one end of the negative (black) jumper cable to the donor battery’s negative (-) terminal.
- Connect the other end of the black jumper cable to a metal part (unpainted) on the car with the flat battery.
Some say attaching the last jumper cable clamp to the negative terminal on the dead car’s battery is fine.
However, this increases the risk of explosion if the jumpstart doesn’t go as planned, so we don’t recommend doing so. Remember to tighten the battery terminals at the end.
Double-Check The Connections
To prevent loose terminal connections, double-check them by lightly tapping the jumper cable with your hand. If they aren’t snug, fit them in before connecting the batteries.
Store Your Jumper Cables Properly
As the previous part mentioned, keeping jumper cables in good condition is crucial when you don’t use them.
The best way is to store them in a protective bag. When you purchase, most cables should come with one.
Avoid getting the bag wet and clean it regularly to remove any dirt or rust that may form on the leads.
Cables can rust on the inside, too, and this is more difficult to detect. Still, you shouldn’t have any problems as long as you keep the cables away from moisture.
Invest In Good Quality Wires
Jumper cables might look all the same – two long cords, each has a clamp at either end. Nonetheless, inexpensive jumper cables are more likely to melt than a higher-quality set.
Instead of saving a few bucks, getting solid wires will save you from a lot of trouble in the future. A worthwhile investment, we’d say.
What To Look For When Choosing Jumper Cables To Prevent Melting?
With that in mind, there are a few factors you’d want to consider while picking a good set of jumper cables. Let’s go over them in detail.
What’s a jumper cable’s “rating,” you might ask? Well, it’s the gauge of the wiring used to construct the line. The wiring lies beneath the outer insulation, which shields your cable from environmental harm.
The lower the rating, the thicker the cable. When it comes to jumper cables, you will want to stick with heavy-duty ones because the current flow should be high enough to jumpstart the vehicle.
Hence, 1- or 2-gauge lines yield the best results, while 9- and 10- cables only work with compact cars.
However, thicker cables often come at a hefty price. Thus, general users should choose those in the 4- to 6- gauge range. They are robust enough for emergency use yet still keep you on a budget.
Due to the minimal insulation used to protect the internal metal wiring, cheaper jumper cables tend to be very frail.
If you are looking for heavy-duty jumper cables, expect thick and sturdy insulation. Heavier insulation shields the inside from the heat generated during the jumpstart process.
This goes a long way in ensuring their longevity and boosts the cables’ functionality.
Cables with thick insulation are more difficult to bend. Put out the extra cash for a high-quality, long-lasting set to ensure the best performance.
Length is another critical factor.
With a short jumper cable, you will have difficulty jumpstarting your vehicle. A length of approximately 10 feet should be sufficient for most situations.
Nonetheless, you never know what kind of circumstance you will be in when your car’s battery dies.
For example, if you park your vehicle in certain ways, a 10-feet long cable might not be enough to give it a jumpstart from another car.
As such, consider investing in a 25-foot jumper cable. These cables are a bit more expensive, but on the bright side, you can rest assured that they work in any situation.
Without a reliable connection for the electricity to travel through, you won’t be able to give your battery the boost it needs to charge.
Therefore, inadequate metal, such as aluminum, will make it hard to jump-start the car effectively. Aluminum wires take much longer than copper ones to work, and they risk getting your jumper cable melted.
Among all the metals, solid copper is one of the most efficient conductors of electricity. Regarding jumping a dead car battery, sticking with copper wires is the best choice.
Those with a tight budget can opt for copper-clad aluminum jumper cables. Of course, they are not as robust as copper ones, but they still provide the necessary conduction for a successful jump-start.
The design of your jumper cables’ clamps can determine whether you will get snug and secure or loose connections.
As a rule of thumb, clamps with good, strong “alligator teeth” are the most reliable.
Better teeth can also be attached in different positions, which is extremely useful with several battery posts’ location and accessibility.
Also, take your time examining the handle portions. They should be made of sturdy and secure insulation so that you won’t electrocute yourself.
Many poor-quality cable sets come with loose-fitting handle insulation, and trust us, getting an electric shock is not a pleasant experience.
Can You Still Use Melted Jumper Cables?
A broken insulator increases the risk of fire and short-circuiting, both of which might cause irreparable damage to your car. In many cases, melted jumper cables also lead to serious personal injury.
When the plastic and rubber insulators start to melt, the best thing is to get a new set of jumper cables right away.
Are Jumper Cables Expensive To Replace?
In general, they don’t. However, it also depends on what type of jumper cables you choose.
Shorter and slimmer wires tend to be cheaper than longer and thicker ones. A standard 4-gauge, 20-foot cable costs around 25 to 30. Unless you are a technician, you won’t need anything more expensive than that.
Can You Jumpstart A Dead Car Battery Without Jumper Cables?
To jumpstart your vehicle without jumper cables, apply the push-start method, use a portable charger, or call a roadside assistance service.
The Bottom Line
Now you know what to do if you get your jumper cables melted!
This is a common problem, but as long as you invest in good quality equipment and follow our tips, you can proactively avoid unfortunate situations.
Thank you, and see you in the next post!
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Why Car Battery Terminals Might Get Hot? (For Beginners)
I saw all kinds of problems people had with car batteries. One of the main questions is related to why terminals are hot to the touch or even why they are melted.
This is my definite answer for everyone who wonders.
Do car battery terminals get hot?
Car battery terminals do get hot in abnormal situations where loose connection, corrosion buildup, and incorrect cable size create resistance. Bad starter and alternator overcharging will put unnecessary stress on the battery, causing terminals to get hot.
Are battery terminals supposed to get hot?
Not paying attention to the battery terminal connections could cost you lots of trouble. That’s why it is very important to check your terminals from time to time and make sure that everything is tight and clean.
In normal circumstances battery terminals are not supposed to get hot. If every connection is tight and clean out of the corrosion heat shouldn’t be present.
In case you touched your terminals right after you cranked up the engine and it takes longer than usual, you can expect terminals to be slightly warm to the touch.
This happens because the starter draws lots of power, so the battery warms up because of the instant burst of high energy delivered to the starter.
One of the main problems terminals getting hot is resistance. If energy flowing throughout an electrical system is restricted with corrosion buildup or loose connections, this alone could create an enormous amount of heat to the point that it can catch fire or melt plastics or even lead.
Will loose car battery clamps cause terminals to get hot?
Loose battery terminal clamps will cause terminals to get hot because the gap between terminal and clamp will restrict the flow of electricity, making sparks jump between them. This gap creates resistance and sparks will generate heat, making terminals to get hot or even melt.
Bolts that are not tight enough will over-time undo by themselves and create loose connections. Or even if you repeatedly clamping and un-clamping, it will surely make terminals polished too small.
Clamps will not be able to grab on terminals, even if you tighten the bolts all the way.
When putting back clamps on battery posts, always make sure to tighten bolts making clams not fall of terminals.
It’s recommended before installing the clamps to put grease on terminals, this will ensure there are no micro gaps between them, and also it will make an air-tight seal making an even stronger connection.
How can corrosion buildup cause car battery terminals to get hot?
Corrosion buildup over the terminals creates resistance, making electricity to slow down and making terminals hot.
Over time corrosion will eat the lead terminals making them weak, including clamps.
That’s why it’s very important from time to time to check on terminals and make sure if you see corrosion formation to act right away and clean it.
Terminals will not only get hot, but car performance will suffer too. For example, It can take longer to start an engine. And cranking it longer will heat up the entire battery, including terminals.
By the color of the corroded terminals you can distinguish between materials clamps are made of.
Do broken copper wires inside car battery cables warm-up terminals?
Broken wires inside cables cause resistance too. Because some of the wires are broken inside, the entire cable will have less available copper mass to put the same amount of electricity through the cable. Thus, heat is created.
No matter where inside the cable wires are broken, the entire cable will overheat. And because copper is metal, heat will travel all the way to the battery making terminals hot.
It’s best to check cables every once in a while to make sure that everything works as it should. Cables shouldn’t be hot to the touch.
If they are, one of the causes might be that wires are broken. In this case you should visit your mechanic to diagnose the issue and replace the cable if it’s needed.
Will corroded copper wires inside car battery cables produce heat on the battery terminals?
Corroded copper wires inside the cable create resistance making the cable to overheat. Heat is transferred through the cable to the battery causing hot terminals.
Cables are made from copper and rubber for insulation. Over time, rubber will degrade and that will cause cracks. Water will go inside making copper wires to oxidize.
Water in combination with copper will create corrosion inside the cable. This corrosion buildup will restrict electrons from flowing freely. Where is the resistance, there’s the heat.
What are car battery terminals made of?
They are made out of the lead. It is very logical because anode and cathode plates inside car batteries are also made out of the same metal. So, it’s convenient to weld cells and terminals together accordingly.
This material is used in such applications because it’s very powerful. It can deliver high Cold Cranking Amps that a starter is required in order to start an engine.
Since the beginning of the modern automotive industry, battery internals are made out of the lead, including terminals. Plates are submerged into sulfuric acid in concentrations anywhere from 15% to 35%. The remaining is distilled water.
Terminals are then connected to the positive and negative sides sticking out from battery internals.
What would cause battery terminals to melt?
High resistance and high current flow will cause battery terminals to melt. When electrons are restricted to pass through, it will create heat.
Depending on the amount of resistance buildup near battery, that much heat will be generated. Resistance can be too high to the point that terminals can melt.
The melting point of lead is 621.5 °F (327.5 °C). So you can imagine what kind of resistance must be created to be able to produce such heat or higher.
High resistance can be created by corrosion buildup, loose connections between clamps and terminals, cracks on clamps that will cause gaps between.
Sometimes it can be caused by a bad starter or a bad alternator.
A starter can draw too much power and as a negative effect, it will create very high heat.
On the other hand, an alternator can have a bad diode. This can cause the battery to overcharge, and as a side effect high heat can melt the terminals.
The danger of aftermarket car battery cables.
Should you replace car battery cables with aftermarket ones? This is a very tricky question.
You should always consult with your mechanic before purchase a new set of cables.
The main concern with the aftermarket cables is the build quality. Can they withstand the current needed for your vehicle?
Always check gauge wire thickness to the specs of your vehicle required. Check the crimping work too.
The cable insulation is one more thing that you should check. Consider materials and also wall thickness.
Alternator can overcharge battery making terminals hot
If your terminals are hot to the touch you should consider checking the alternator. It may be overcharging your battery which is not good news.
Hot terminals are not the only thing that a bad alternator can do. Overcharging will make battery electrolytes inside to boil out, releasing gases making the battery to swell up.
This will not melt terminals but it can kill the battery if not addressed immediately.
Losing acid out of the car battery will expose lead plates to the air making them to oxidize. This oxidation can never be reversed. So, the battery will die.
Bad alternator work in such a way that it pumps more Voltage than is really needed leading to overcharging.
One more thing, before replacing a battery, always consult the owner’s manual or ask your mechanic what kind of battery type to buy for a replacement. Not all batteries are the same. But most of the car battery types are heavy for sure, this shouldn’t confuse you.
If you choose a battery brand that does not meet car manufacturing specs, it can lead to overcharging, although an alternator is good. So, you should always invest in a good car battery brands, for sure.
Do not use any electronics inside your car when starting the engine, here’s why
When starting an engine, one thing to consider is to turn off all of the electronics inside your car.
If you choose not to do so, it will put higher stress on the car’s battery making it hotter than it should be.
Terminals will most likely get hot too, because all the electronics will suck power from a battery before you even start the engine.
Yes, it’s just a short period of time. It will only happen in a second or two. But, when the starter pulls power to start an engine, it’s a very high burst of electrons, and it will warm up the battery more, which is really unnecessary making terminals to be hot too.
It’s best to make a routine before you shut the engine off to turn off all of the electronics. This way, you will ensure an easy start of an engine making as little stress on your battery and electrical system of a car.
Hi, I’m John Taylor. From a young age, I worked in my dad’s car service. Read more
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Why Do Golf Cart Battery Cables Melt?
It’s never fun when you’re driving your golf cart around and suddenly sense a burning smell coming from your golf cart. While it’s possible that oil, gas, or something on your engine is to blame, it’s more than likely your battery cables melting.
Golf cart battery cables melt when there’s too much current and electricity flowing through them. An excess of current and power will lead to overheating which then causes the battery cables and terminals to melt. Excess current is usually the result of loose or corroded battery cable connections.
While a loose or corroded battery cable connection is usually the reason for overheating, they aren’t the only possible culprits. For that reason, it’s important to put your troubleshooting skills to the test so that you can get to the bottom of your issue. Otherwise, overheating will continue even if you install new cables and batteries.
Reasons That Golf Cart Battery Cables Melt
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the reason your battery cables melted is that they were too hot. Overheating, in turn, is usually the result of a sudden surge or excess of current flowing through the battery cables. However, it’s important to figure out WHY your battery cables suddenly overheated. They were working fine a minute ago, so what caused them to suddenly heat up and start melting?
Loose Terminal Connection
The main reason that golf cart battery cables melt is that they aren’t tight enough. The cables get attached to the battery terminal with a nut. If the nut isn’t tight enough, it will result in a loose connection between the cable and the terminal or battery post.
The same thing happens with the electrical wiring in houses. If a wire that’s connected to an outlet or light isn’t tight enough, it will result in arcing. Arcing is where electricity is able to escape from the wire because of a loose or open connection. Arcing electricity essentially means that it’s set free and can travel wherever it wants to. In the case of a battery cable and terminal, it will often cause excessive heat and start melting the outside of the battery cable.
In the same way that a loose connection between the cable and a terminal can cause arcing and your golf cart battery cables to melt, so can corroded terminals. Corrosion will cause the same issue, in that the cable loosens fro the terminal and is free to arc.
To clean your battery, I have found this cleaner work wonders. I have tried scrubbing with a wire brush, and really didn’t want to spend the money on the specialized cleaner, but when I did it worked shockingly well.
After cleaning the terminals, coat them with a protectant to prevent further corrosion.
Bad or Missing Ground Strap
The purpose of a ground strap on a golf cart is to help it run, charge, and turn off. The ground strap connects the battery to the chassis or frame of the golf cart and is the foundation of your golf cart’s electrical wiring and system. When a ground strap is missing or gives out, any number of electrical problems can result, one of which is overheating.
Because the strap connects the battery to the chassis, overheating often starts with the battery cables. You’ll have to tighten or replace the ground strap if it’s missing to prevent overheating from continuing.
A Bad Starter (for gas golf carts)
While a bad starter is rarely the cause of melted battery cables, it’s a possibility. If the starter goes bad, it can draw excess power through the battery cables, which can overheat them and cause melting. As we said before, however, this is rarely the cause, so you should check other options first.
Cables Have Low Resistance
If your battery cables have low resistance, they will overheat more quickly than wires and cables with higher resistance. Low resistance cables essentially means they have a low resistance to heat and can’t absorb it. The older your battery cables are, the more likely it is that they don’t have the same level of resistance that they once did. Therefore, they’re more likely to overheat if you operate your golf cart for long periods of time.
The Cables are Too Long
In general, you want short cables so that power flows quickly from Point A to Point B. The longer your battery cables are, the longer it takes for power to flow and transfer. The result is that more stress gets put on your cables and cable ends and they’re more likely to overheat and melt.
Your Cables Aren’t the Right Size Causing your Golf Cart Battery Cables to Melt
Once again, this problem is the same for house wires, battery cables, and all other electrical wires. If they aren’t big or thick enough, they are likely to overheat and cause your golf carts battery cables to melt. However, you’re probably wondering why your golf cart is acting up now because you’ve had the same battery cables all along.
Initially and for short periods of time, small cables are able to handle the electrical needs of your golf cart battery. However, the longer you operate the cart and the more power your battery requires, the hotter the cable will get. Eventually, the heat becomes too much and the cable melts. The same concept holds true for cables that are too long or that have low resistance. They may work fine for a while, but the heat eventually becomes too much and they melt.
Stock battery cables can be sized ok for most applications, but once you add larger tires, rear seats, and extra weight you will find upgrading your battery cables will make a huge difference.
Battery cables and electrical wires are measured in gauges of thickness. In most cases, golf cart battery cables are either 2 or 4-gauge. If your cables don’t have this same thickness, you should replace them with new ones.
A Short Circuit
The final possible reason for your golf cart to have melted battery cables is because of a short circuit. Short circuits happen when two hot wires touch each other. So, if a bare wire within your golf cart happened to touch one of your battery cable’s bare ends, it will cause a short circuit and melt your cables. However, this problem is easy to spot because you should be able to see the wire that caused the short circuit because it will be melted as well.
One Bad Battery
Most electric golf carts have either 4, 6, or 8 batteries. If you have one bad or damaged battery it can cause a higher amp draw of current through the cables and cause one to melt. This article explains what to do if you do in fact have a bad battery.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are my golf cart battery terminals melting?
The only way that your golf cart battery terminals will melt is if there’s an overheating problem with the battery cables. Check for corrosion or a loose connection between the cables and the terminal.
Why is my golf cart battery charger getting hot?
Your golf cart charger gets hot because of the high degree of electricity that’s pouring from the charger to the golf cart battery. While a little heat is normal when a golf cart battery charger is connected to the battery for long periods of time, you should disconnect them if they get too hot to touch.
Why do golf cart batteries catch fire?
If your golf cart battery discharges too much hydrogen combined with melting battery cables, it can cause them to catch fire or explode.
- What is the Wire Size for Golf Cart Batteries?
- Why Do Golf Cart Batteries Need Water?
- Can You Mix Old and New Golf Cart Batteries?
- Can You Mix Golf Cart Battery Brands?
- What to do if your Golf Cart Battery Charger will not shut off
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I’m Eric, master of the carts! Our family in a golf cart community with many courses just a short walk away and have been golfing, modifying golf carts, and playing with golf simulators for most of our life. Welcome!