Safety First: Battery Cable Tips

Safety First: Battery Cable Tips

Checking Battery Cables
Not being able to start your boat is probably one of the most dreaded and feared aspects of boating. There are times in this situation that your battery is at fault, but sometimes it’s even deeper than that. Even if your battery itself has a clean bill of health, that doesn’t mean that your battery isn’t somehow the culprit. If you boat on saltwater, and you are struggling to turn over your engine, you need to check your battery cables. Saltwater has the tendency to wear down battery cables, making them brittle and unable to hold a charge. Having bad battery cables are no laughing matter. Not only can they leave you stranded, but they can be hazardous to you and your boat. A deteriorated wire plus electrical energy can create excessive heat, and this can potentially lead to combustion.

Having bad battery cables can result in unexpected fires, so don’t overlook what appears to be just a ‘weak battery.’ A lot is riding on your battery cables, so this is not an aspect of your boat you want to overlook and ignore. Stay safe out there by reading our helpful safety tips for checking battery cables.

1. Don’t ignore weak starting and always pay attention to your boat when firing up. Having a weak starting sequence is your first clue that something is off, so make sure you stay vigilant.
2. Keep an eye on your voltmeter. If you see an output higher than 14.5 volts you definitely have some problems on your hand.
3. Listen to your nose and be suspicious of any strange odors. There is a distinct smell to overheating battery cables. So if your nose leads you to your battery, don’t ignore your senses.
4. After you are done cruising for the day, feel your battery cables to see if you can detect heat. If a cable feels hot, make sure you address the issue ASAP.
5. Make sure you physically inspect your battery cables by attempting to bend each one. If you find that the cable resists and crackles as you bend, chances are you have a bad battery cable.
6. If you want to know for sure, use a multimeter to test for resistance. If your reading is coming back higher than an ohm, there is an electrical problem that needs to be addressed.


New York Marine Trades Association
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