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Ground Cables Connection Mod

9981 Views 40 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  cincinsight
Hi All.
Welcome to the Ground Connection Mod:
’05’s in the garage now, 11 miles on her and I’m doing the mod’s to bring her up to speed. While doing the ground connections I realized I never posted this one, although I had helped many an insighter with this issue. This is something I would fix whether your having an issue or not. Well, here goes…
Back when I had my ’00 Red 5 spd w/AC Insight I went thru a period where recalibrations were becoming more frequent to the point where I’d have 1 or 2 a day. Didn’t know much about insights back then (I’m finding I know less now) but I knew to go bother the dealer (who knew even less) and get turned away “can’t find anything wrong, no trouble codes”.
I did know that I’d had to replace the 12v battery when it was less than 2 years old and wondered if there was a correlation. My current battery was just over a year old. Just for the hell of it went to KMART and got a battery and replaced mine. Recalibrations went back to 1 every day or two. As I used to be a dealer mechanic (back when they fixed cars) I remembered that ground connection issues could cause some unusual symptoms. A bad ground usually wants to be found, a poor ground may need to be chased to get caught.
Got out my SM and looked up the grounds under the hood. Obviously the car has grounds everywhere, I stayed under the hood where contamination would be more prevalent. There’s a ground connection for the 12v battery and two engine ground cables at the left front of the engine compartment near the air filter housing (see pics). Also, one more for the EPS (electric power steering), under the 12v battery box, didn’t bother with that one.
What I noticed at first was that we have copper cables with aluminum crimped ends bolted to aluminum with a steel bolt (electrolysis). What really got may attention was the paint had never been removed from the contact surfaces (now livid). Although this may be acceptable for a regular vehicle I would not expect this practice to be utilized on a hybrid. As I expected, using all the tricks of the trade, I almost couldn’t get the bolts out. A non-mechanic type wouldn’t have had a chance. The ground cable for the 12v battery was the worst. Sanded and filed all the connections (including the bracket for one of the cables, air filter housing mounts to it). Sprayed all with lubricated contact cleaner (Radio Shack) and put all back together with new bolts (Ace Hardware).
Don’t take this as a fix all, recalibrations can be caused by a number of things. This fixed mine though, they went back to one every month or two, which I could live with. I no longer replace my 12v battery every year or two either. And with the paint there all the electrolysis will occur at the very worst place, the threads (there’s that word again!) of the bolts. Good Luck, Jack
You can see the pics at:
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I had purchased an Odysey 545 battery to have on hand in case my factory 12v bit the dust, so I took the weekend to install it along with the cable upgrade as described by Jack, with a slight twist, which I'll get to shortly. One thing I noticed that might help others is, when scraping or buffing off the paint where the connections are fastened, be sure to get down thru the primer also. Since I was working at night with a drop light, I could see the cloudy appearence of the primer under the blue paint as I started filing. You need to get down to shiny aluminum. Throw some light in there if in doubt. I used a hand file to do mine, as it creates a nice flat surface for the cable end to mate against. Now the twist; I only used one replacement cable. Supposidly(sp) one cable goes to the transmission and the other to the engine. Follow the_conductive_path of both cables and they go to the same place. The top cable goes over to the bracket at the air cleaner, which is mounted to the yoke, which mounts the transmission/engine to the chassis. The lower most ground cable goes directly to the transmission/engine within 1.5 inches of where the yoke is bolted. :?: I went from the uppermost cable frame mounting because it was easy to get to with the file, directly to the place on the tranny housing, which I also filed flat since it had a little build up around the hole. I used a 12 inch ground cable from NAPA with eyes on both ends, will look up the part # and edit post. Buff the cable ends with some sandpaper or emery to remove any film left from manufacturing and assemble. Works fine.

Edit (NAPA part#711294 BELDEN 4 gauge 12 inch switch to starter cable. This is the better quality item. There were some others (cheaper) out on the peg rack in blister packs, but if you compare you will see the difference.

Jack, your a mechanic, why the two cables in the factory config :?:
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So Mike, Is this a spray that can be applied after the fact with intended results? And since these connections are far away from the battery will they be as prone to corrision? I understand the disimular metals thing but most of what I have seen is in the area of the top posts on the vented push-on-cap, refill type battery.
Ok, can't argue with anything there, but other than Mikes suggestion of using a no oxidation treatment, this 12v cable upgrade (if we can call it that) has cured some problems for several insighters in its present form.

For a threaded aluminum electrical connection (such as the Insight ground strap) it is often the practice to make the bolt/insert clearances tight. This allows the electroplated bolt to "scrape" the female aluminum threads on the way in, thereby removing any aluminum oxide (which is a very poor electrical conductor) from the electrical connection.
From the looks of the fasteners used to mount the ground cables to the aluminum chassis, over by the fender, they appear to be self taping, as after removing one of them there were two (2) threads full of swarf. I ran a 6MM tap down in the hole a couple times to straighten up the threads before reassembling. I'm a machine programmer by trad, I understand threads and threading. Something I don't understand is why a major automotive manufacturer would depend on stripping threads in aluminum for a ground connection. Good electrical conduction is somewhat dependant on circular mils, which is nothing more than surface area. Why depend on 60% thread contact for surface area, over the surface area of the cable end mated to the flat surface of the host part. Why not use a conductive adhesive or thread locker on the threads if they are to be the path of the current, instead of displacing metal to get around the oxidation problem. Displace aluminum very far and you overcome its tensile strength.

I did argue a bit...huh :lol:
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I previously wrote:
Now the twist; I only used one replacement cable
..........and it continues to work fine.
Popped the hood on Wiffee's '05 Civic over the weekend to check the oil. Right in front of the engine, behind the radiator, is the ground cable. Very nice looking braided cable. Looks like it is long enough, and has the right ends on it, to be used on our Insights. Might be an option for those wishing to stay closer to factory stuff, but still upgrade. The braided cable will resist vibration better, IMHO.

the engine shakes a lot when idling
Idling :?: Who's idling :?:

Probably the same folks who do powered reverse :D

Don't you hate it when that happens :evil:

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