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Discussion Starter #1
Have gone through 4 batteries in the last 3 years and could never find the problem. Checked parasitic drain numerous times with nothing showing as a problem. I did have to replace the multi-function relay last fall to fix the gas tank, trunk, radio problem, but still at seemingly random intervals my battery would just die for no apparent reason.

I bought a new positive cable at my local parts store, but it just didn't seem like all the connections at the battery would fit on it. So I decided to suck it up and take it to a local auto electric shop for a better diagnosis. They checked parasitic and found a 15 mA draw, which is normal. I had told them to take a look at the positive cable due to some discoloration and when he check it, noticed the cable was hot to the touch after just starting it this morning and driving it about 20 feet into the garage. When he checked the cable, he found a 1.75 voltage drop within the first 2 inches of the cable. Apparently when the manufacturer swaged the wire to the terminal, they let some moisture or something in there and it caused it to overheat, which slowly broke down the wire and caused the heating to spread down the wire causing more and more damage. He cut about 8 inches of the cable off to get to good wire and then just spliced some good wire to it and made up a new terminal. The whole cable is adequately sized to carry the load, it's just apparently a manufacturing defect at the terminal with the OEM cable.

The proof is that the ammeter has always read a shade over 13 to 13.5 volts. It ran right up to 14 volts when I went to pick it up tonight. Problem seems to be solved. The sheath wasn't split like this when I took it in, but the terminal did have some discoloration from heating.

Anyway, just a data point for others.

 

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2000 Catera Sport
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390 Posts
I am currently dealing with this. 3 batteries in a year or so. I replaced the alternator a couple weeks ago and thought it was fixed but I am now starting to see the same problems. The voltage meter never gets to the half way mark. It gets to about the 1/4 mark and below depending on if the A/C is running. I actually was beginning to suspect the battery cable running to the alternator because when I hook a battery/ alternator votage meter tester on, I only get about a 12 volt charge from the alternator. So I was thinkin that maybe the cable was adding a bunch of resistance in there due to internal corrosion or something. THanks for the tip. I'll check that out.
 

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2000 Catera Sport
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did they just splice in the battery side or was the alternator side messed up too? And just curious, how did they splice such a thick cable?
 

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'97 Catera (Ocean)
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What are you guys doin with all these batteries, how about sending one my way, lol. Just found that both of my posts are starting to corode.
 

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2000 Catera Sport
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What are you guys doin with all these batteries, how about sending one my way, lol. Just found that both of my posts are starting to corode.
ha! You dont want em when I'm done with em! Are yours corroding underneath the shielding? Mine look almost new on the fitting that goes to the battery. Like the picture above. I can see how this problem would be easily over looked. Whos gonna slice up their cables just to check em? Glad lbrty9 posted this! Gonna take a look at mine tonight after work. I'm bummed I blew $170 on an alternator I didnt need.:mad:
 

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'97 Catera (Ocean)
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Well I don't see anything wrong with my cables, I think my issue right now is, battery is old, seals under the post are starting to leak acid. Need a new bat, can't afford brand new one till payday...Damnit!
 

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2000 Catera Sport
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I noticed my posative cable runs under the top radiator hose and actually touches it. So it gets hot as crap. THat cant be a good thing. Seems like a poor design to me. Course my car has been molested by so many mechanics, maybe someone re-routed it at some point. I dont see why it would have came that way.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Sorry it has taken me a while to answer. The shop just cut the cable back about 8 inches and crimped another piece of cable to it and then put heat shrink over the crimped connector. Been running great ever since, problem is solved. There's not really any good reason to replace the entire cable unless you get resistance across the whole thing. It was definitely worth the money to take it to an auto electrical shop for me. I hate paying people to work on my junk, but this was a good call. It was the positive cable.
 

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2000 Catera Sport
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56 Posts
That is NOT good to do what they did, i noticed the 4gauge power wire that runs to the starter/alt. was getting hot, of course you saw as i did the defective crimp at the factory positive terminal. The RIGHT thing to do as what I did shortly after purchasing my Sport from a buddy would be to run a new 4gauge wire in some loom from the alt main terminal to the battery. optional to remove the factory wire (I personally just left the factory and added a new 2nd) I used about 6-7ft, a 100amp fuse and 2 4gauge terminals.

crimping a wire that big is a huge resistance point, not to mention the factory wire is worn and oxidized from age. Not smart.
 

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That is NOT good to do what they did, i noticed the 4gauge power wire that runs to the starter/alt. was getting hot, of course you saw as i did the defective crimp at the factory positive terminal. The RIGHT thing to do as what I did shortly after purchasing my Sport from a buddy would be to run a new 4gauge wire in some loom from the alt main terminal to the battery. optional to remove the factory wire (I personally just left the factory and added a new 2nd) I used about 6-7ft, a 100amp fuse and 2 4gauge terminals.

crimping a wire that big is a huge resistance point, not to mention the factory wire is worn and oxidized from age. Not smart.

Thanks for bringing this old post back up, I always wondered why I went through so many batteries. lol :cool:
 

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yeah not to mention alternators...

Sorry about bringing up old posts, but i finally got my hands on a 00 Catera Sport.

I've been a electrical tech for almost 10 years now, ase certified now for a few and its always nice to jump on a forum and see what problems a vehicle has.. in my past experience the older Cateras had some serious electrical issues.. not so much with the newer ones.

I noticed this voltage drop issue immediately, I knew something wasn't right as my Escort 9500 was only reading 12.5-13.0 at the most, after adding a gauge wire from the alt. post to the battery I now get 13.2 at idle and 14.2 while driving.

One thing I did notice on my catera was the ground strap from the engine to frame on the bottom was oxidized rather bad and even though I haven't changed it yet ill most likely swap it out with a new one before the weekend.
 
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