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Thread: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

  1. #1
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    Default Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    I asked the shop that the car was in two weeks ago to replace the thing but they forgot. Now I have corrosion at the positive pole, the alternator won't charge the battery, and the head of the bolt is stripped beyond vise grip use. This kind of stuff only happens in the middle of winter. Any ideas for getting it off?

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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    Top post, or side post?

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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    First thing, disconnect the neg cable before you attack the pos cable. If your metal tool touches the pos cable and any other metal part of the car, there will be serious excitement. Maybe an exploded battery, maybe just sparks, but best not to find out.

    If this is a post-type connection with a clamp-end cable, no worries. The posts are slightly tapered and lead is soft. A little judicious wiggling by hand will usually break the corrosion and the cable will slip off. Be very sure when you're wiggling the cable end that the post is not moving. Another approach is to spread the cable clamp ever so slightly with a large screwdriver. Again, make sure you don't twist the post. You can get replacement clamp bolts at any auto parts store.

    Now, if this is a bolt-on connection and the bolt is stripped, you may end up cutting the cable and replacing both battery and cable.

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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    I'd try a Dremel tool with a mini disk grinder. It should take maybe 10 minutes. Hopefully you are able to get at the bolt without cutting the terminal. It would be ideal if there is a split in the terminal where the bolt goes through and you can position it there.

    The disk grinder looks like one of these:
    http://www.lawson-his.co.uk/scripts/...&product=13106

    The other day I used this method to cut loose a corroded wing nut that was frozen. I went through one of these disks and partly used up another in the process.
    Will

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    Side post.


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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    Oooooh! Not pretty. Maybe an angle grinder. You might be able to grind away enough so the connector comes free. If you're living right you might be able to get the bolt stud out of the battery and save both the battery and the cable. At this point I'd think about disconnecting the cable at the starter and removing battery and cable together so you can work at it effectively.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    you tried using the cable itself a wrench? or light taps with a hammer and chisel or screwdriver?
    Last edited by Paul Pless; 01-27-2009 at 05:05 PM.
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    Hand grinder w/cutoff wheel.

    --cuts through almost anything--bolt, bracket, that heater hose....

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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    I was afraid to do anything after the bolt head stripped. I think what I'll have to do is get a new cable end before I destroy the old one getting it off, that means waiting until tomorrow afternoon when I'll have swmbo's car to use.
    I've got one of those, Dan. Only used it once in five years.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich VanValkenburg View Post
    I've got one of those, Dan. Only used it once in five years.
    keel bolts?
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    Better get some PB Blaster on it. I think Normans got a can you can borrow.

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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Pless View Post
    keel bolts?

    No Paul, another auto-related battle, sway-bar links. Rusted nut in a confined space.

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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    I just did one the other day I used a new pair of vice grips that had a slight curve type and you can clamp them just on it when you move the connector you need to move the cable and the vise grips at the same time as the cable may be stuck to the connector but if you keep at it you will get it off and i even put mine back on with out cutting the connector

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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    Oh, that does look ugly. Spray it with liquid wrench, put a torch to it, lightly, and then try the locking pliers again. I like the idea, too, of using the cable itself to turn it. Some combination will get it loose.
    So many questions, so little time.

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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    Cut the cable at the terminal. Remove the battery. Use needle nose vice grips to remove the old terminal and replace with new one. That bolt is a really soft metal, maybe lead. I could get it out with my teeth.

    It might help to get rid of the corrosion by pouring a mixture of baking soda and water on the old terminal and then spraying with Liquid Wrench or WD 40.
    The Reverend

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    " put a torch to it, lightly"

    Oh yeah! That's what I would do......I forgot.
    The Reverend

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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    Quote Originally Posted by KingKuvas View Post
    I just did one the other day I used a new pair of vice grips that had a slight curve type and you can clamp them just on it when you move the connector you need to move the cable and the vise grips at the same time as the cable may be stuck to the connector but if you keep at it you will get it off and i even put mine back on with out cutting the connector
    NO... DO NOT TRY TO ROTATE THE CABLE...it has radial teeth on it's face, and the battery has meshing teeth on the case...Rotating it will ruin the battery...but in this case, your going to be buying a new battery and a new cable anyway... Get on it with vice grips, and find the biggest strongest guy to clamp them on whats left of the bolt, as others have said, some liquid wrench or other cant hurt.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    See Mikes post, please don't follow Ish's advice and put a torch to it.


    It really looks run of the mill to me. I think you need better (or smaller) vice grips. You could run it to a shop.

    I'm sending you a bucket of perseverance.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    FORGET the torch!! JESUS!!

    Hydrogen gas is explosive.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    The battery is dead, right? Not much if any hydrogen about. If it's venting some still, it won't go boom.
    So many questions, so little time.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    Quote Originally Posted by ishmael View Post
    The battery is dead, right?
    Automotive mechanics is not one of your strong points, is it?

    His batterie can explode from just a spark fully charged or dead.
    The Reverend

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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    Whatever. Don't use a torch, fine with me.
    So many questions, so little time.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    Ish, let me very gently suggest that you do NOT attempt any car repairs on your own. Your suggestion is at best misguided and at worst, completely negligent. I am surprised at you.

    Rich, let me strongly suggest you heed the preceeding five posts, excepting Ishmael's. You can try the suggestions above (if you use the grinder/cutting wheel, do so OUTSIDE and in the open air as they can also produce sufficient sparking to ignite the battery, but - as a former professional mechanic - you're gonna probably replace battery AND cable. I assure you that it is far better to spend the money and NOT endanger yourself! It's what I'd do faced with the same situation.
    Frayed Knot Arts: Fancywork and Rope Jewelry
    http://www.frayedknotarts.com.html

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    Quote Originally Posted by ishmael View Post
    Not much if any hydrogen about.
    Right, not much.
    It would just be a small explosion, possibly spaying battery acid all over you.
    What could go wrong?

    If you do try it, remember to say "Hold my beer and watch this!". It will make the story so much better.
    Allan of the Grove - S/V Laura Ellen, 1937 Gaff Schooner
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    "never send a ferret to do a weasel's job.."

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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    The main problem you are having is that you don't have enough room to work on it with the battery in the car. If you cut the cable and remove the battery and follow my instructions, you won't have any trouble replacing the terminal.
    The Reverend

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    Sometimes....

    The thing about the radial teeth is true. Been thinking that one through since Paul suggested it. I do have a set of curve-jawed vise grips and I'll try those. Got to get the corrosion off of the connector to see what there is to grab onto, the negative post should be a good indicator.

    Ya know, I used to do all of my own car repairs, but it's not fun anymore and I'm not as strong as I was in my 30's. I should get whacked upside my head for not dealing with this last August when I didn't need a snowsuit.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    If you guys think a dead battery is going to explode if you put a bit of heat to the terminal, I don't know what to say. It's not. The off-gassing from a dead battery is nonexistent. I will say, I wouldn't try it with a live battery.
    So many questions, so little time.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    I've got a dead battery around here somewhere. I'll take a torch and attach a looooooooong pole to it and see what happens. Care to back up to it with your britches around your ankles Jack? I'm gonna have to borrow someone's vid cam. My cam takes horrible video and I'd hate to have to reshoot it for Jack's Darwin Award.

    Doug

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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    If you trim away some of the plastic on the cable it will probably expose enough surface to grab with a pair of good channel locks. Channel locks used correctly grip much better than vice grips when trying to turn round objects. Grip the round part of the bolt, not the now stripped hex part. With a little manipulation you can usually get the bolt free from the cable end. You can then replace it with a very short , about 1/2 inch long with 3/8 -16 thread IIRC or go buy a replacement - they're cheap. If the cable is easy to replace (some aren't) do it.

    Chris

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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    It might help to get rid of the corrosion by pouring a mixture of baking soda and water on the old terminal and then spraying with Liquid Wrench or WD 40. __________________
    PB Blaster is better on this application.

    clean it up first.

    then if you have enough cable length that you can replace the cable end you are home free.

    disconnect ground wire

    cut the cable as close to the terminal as possible.

    Remove battery. Set battery on work bench.

    Carefully use center punch first and drill the center of the bolt. (it's a soft one). Use a proper marine type long taper reverse direction screw extractor. Tap it in with a light weight (I use a body shop sheet metal hammer) hammer. back the dam% bolt out carefully re-tapping the extractor in if needed.

    Worked in 1968 on stuff at the Chrysler dealership I was an assist. service manager at and still worked last year on my daughters GM POS OLDSmubble. She loves her late model PT Cruiser she got when the Olds folded in half from rust.

    IT WILL WORK JUST BE PATIENT!

    Replace bolt and cable end.

    By now the lack of proper charging has probably sulfated your battery plates.

    If you have one use it if not borrow or buy a Home Depot Husky charger and use the battery re-condition feature overnight. Your battery may be in better shape than a garage or parts store would ever tell you. They want to sell you a new one. In the navy we de-sulfated our battery plates once a month.
    good quality car batteries and marine deep cycle ones last a lot longer with proper care than most would think.

    Re-install with proper felt corrosion pads and dielectric grease.


    Chase

    P.S. I would not, nor would you want, to replace the batteries in my 40 ft. Prevost conversion bus. LOL $$$$$$$$

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    Carefully use center punch first and drill the center of the bolt. (it's a soft one). Use a proper marine type long taper reverse direction screw extractor. Tap it in with a light weight (I use a body shop sheet metal hammer) hammer. back the dam% bolt out carefully re-tapping the extractor in if needed.

    Worked in 1968 on stuff at the Chrysler dealership I was an assist. service manager at and still worked last year on my daughters GM POS OLDSmubble. She loves her late model PT Cruiser she got when the Olds folded in half from rust.
    SIDE MOUNT TERMINALS in 1968 ??? your sure ??

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    The big one we used technique on as "stuff" in the late 60s was the built in rusting of the early Mopar disc brake caliper bolts. Less than a year and whoa boy.....

    Seems like every used late model mopar we bought at auction for our lot had the same problem.

    Every car is different, they all have their unique design flaws. Even Audis and Mercedes cars. I could give a list for each of those two.

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    If that battery is over 3 years old, not worth the trouble - replace it. New cable, too, as it may have a lot of internal corrosion. I've replaced a few that weren't that old but were essentially red powder in a plastic casing.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    A Rigid, 6" pipe wrench will beat vise grips any day of the week. It will also still grab bolts rendered useless by vise grips.

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    My assumption was that people have half a brain.
    So many questions, so little time.

  36. #36
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    My assumption was that people have half a brain.
    This after the torch business. Whew.

  37. #37
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    Forget it. I don't know anything. Delete it. Buncha animals. Don't ever use a torch, and don't ever quote me. Ever! I'll sue your ass.
    So many questions, so little time.

  38. #38
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    Gotta wait until the other car gets home, hopefully with my wife in it. Then it's off to find parts before I destroy anything. My luck is that the snow is blowing sideways today.

    I've used a torch on stuff that I knew would give up to the heat, the trick is keeping heat in the right place. But I wouldn't even think of it here. My wife's grandmother blew herself up. But that was flagrant use of gasoline as a cleaning agent in a basement.
    Last edited by Rich VanValkenburg; 01-28-2009 at 12:51 PM.

  39. #39
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    Quote Originally Posted by ishmael View Post
    Forget it. I don't know anything. Delete it. Buncha animals. Don't ever use a torch, and don't ever quote me. Ever! I'll sue your ass.
    The person with half a brain can consider himself quoted. So sue me

    Doug

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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    Lol!
    The Reverend

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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    If I felt the need for heat, I'd use a heat gun (air.) Might even go so far as to turn it on and off away from the battery.

  42. #42
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    Making progress. Pretty cold outside but I disconnected the alternator cable and one other, cut the main cable and had the battery on my bench. Finally got the positive bolt out and nothing but corrosion dust inside. It's worth a photo but she-who-steals-my-tools also took my camera today so use your imagination. The battery is a Die Hard and should be good for a few more years so I'll reassemble and try that route.

    btw, saw a note in a financial article Saturday that Sears isn't expected to make it through 2009. I have a great respect for their hand tools and stuff like the Die Hard. Who makes that battery?

  43. #43
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    Quote Originally Posted by botebum View Post
    The person with half a brain can consider himself quoted. So sue me

    Doug
    Did your summons come through yet, Doug?
    The Reverend

  44. #44
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    Everything is back together but the battery won't take a charge. Since I always see some indication of the charger at work if the engine hood light is on, there might be a broken connection somewhere else since the hood light didn't even give a dull glow. It's a fairly new charger set at 10a. I was pretty careful even in the cold but I'll have another look tomorrow with a VOM and see if I can find a break or a disconnect.

    There was some charge left when I gave up Tuesday but I'm wondering if the cold weather froze the battery. Still, I should have seen something as the charger was connected.

  45. #45
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    Did you check the water in the batterie? Check the water and fill if necessary and put it on a two amp overnight trickle down charge.
    The Reverend

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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    Quote Originally Posted by Memphis Mike View Post
    Cut the cable at the terminal. Remove the battery. Use needle nose vice grips to remove the old terminal and replace with new one. That bolt is a really soft metal, maybe lead. I could get it out with my teeth.
    Big deal! I could get it out with your teeth too!

    And, as it happens, MM wins the award for the outcome! Cut, new connector, new battery and awaaaay we go. No teeth required!

  47. #47
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    Btw, with the caps off and if the battery is charging, you can see the bubbles if you shine a flashlight into it. Leave the caps off while charging to allow for off gassing.
    The Reverend

  48. #48
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    Most car batteries are sealed units, correct? Suspect your battery is toast. Them's the breaks.

    Bang for the buck, I'd put a new one in. As far north as you live, how many years do you typically get out of your batteries? 3 - 5 years here, tops - and they crap out, generally, in Jan - Feb, when it's about -20 outside.

    I'm fast approaching that time in life when 'less is more'. I took a day off from work, and all I've done today is 'honey-do's' and other repairs. Could be worse, I suppose....

  49. #49
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    George, it could be so much worse, it's not even funny. Sounds like a great day to me!

  50. #50
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    Default Re: Need some help- stripped positive battery cable bolt

    "Most car batteries are sealed units, correct"

    That's BS that the manufacturer tells you in order to sell more batteries. Most car batteries are indeed servicable. I have never seen a one that wasn't.

    People tend to think of batteries as throw away disposable items because that's what they told you to think. You can pry the caps off of any batterie and I've done it a hundred times. If you check the water at least twice a year and don't strip the bolts with channel locks, you'll get a lot more life out of it than you might expect.
    Last edited by Memphis Mike; 01-29-2009 at 08:16 PM.
    The Reverend

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