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Ground Cables Connection Mod

9978 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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Some food for thought.
Grounding is used for handling current, but also for controlling high frequency noise in power electronics. The two grounds cost Honda more than one ground, and car companies are cheap, so why two. The second ground may have more to do with EMI control than current handling. Unfortunately without some specialized equipment one cannot tell if your single ground has increased EMI.
The AM radio is many times ones best noise detection device, but if you have not tried it before, you will have no basis of comparison, if you hear a buzz that changes when your IMA changes assist or regen,across much of the AM band it could be ground related.
Or it is just a redundant ground in case the other fails?
Just don't know.

I could probably find these on my own, I haven't checked yet. But in the off chance these are someplace strange, can anyone post a pic of the g-wire locations?

Muchas Gracias in advance!

Did you check the pic link in the first post of this therad :?:
Thanks for posting this thread everyone.

My g/f just got a 2000 5spd with 120,000mi, and it has been giving lack-luster mpg so far. I checked the ground cables yesterday and found that one was almost completely disconnected on one side.

I initially mis-judged where the lower of the two connected to the engine/trans-housing. So it looked okay, but when I unbolted it from the frame, the entire wire swung under the engine, broke off and fell onto the skid plate! leaving only the engine/trans-housing mounting plate connected! It literally took me like 10sec to figure out what happened, because I was still under the impression that the trans mounting was in decent shape. It was not until I found the actual mounting point that I realized what had happened and why.

So I took the wires to my local hifi/car stereo shop and had them make me some beefed up corrosion resistant 8 gauge replacements. I will post photos later today. Have yet to install them, due to work/school schedule today, but they are the first thing on my list when I get home... and then a joy ride to see about possible mpg improvement.
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Here are the pics of my ground wires, and the wires I had made to replace them. The second pic is of where the trans-chassis wire was fatigued and came apart.

I did notice a definite increase in the amount of assist and amount of charging the car was capable of after replacing these grounds, and I had about a 7mpg increase over the subsequent couple of days.

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Well, just got done with a HUGE insight project.

Dynamate Extremed my whole ride. Firewall, floor, seatback, battery deck, roof. While the floor was up, I installed new speakers, amp, speaker wire, and RCA cables...

So sub, why are you posting this in the ground cable thread?

Well, I had plenty of 2 gauge ground cable left over from my monster amplifier install kit.

And you know, I thought... its time to do the ground mod!

So, I replaced both ground cables with 2 guage monster ground wire, with copper eyelets and shrink wrapped the ends.

I went for a test drive just now to make sure I had no shorts or bad grounds...

Well, of course I had a recal, but I charged to full in 2 miles of freeway at 60mph, and for the first time EVER I have 20 full bars in my battery meter! (I always had 19, and never could get to 20)

To boot, I get more charge bars on my IMA braking! To early to tell what other benefits my 2 gauge grounds have in store for me, I will keep you all posted! :twisted:
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Yup :!:

Main engine ground wires in poor "electrical" condition will cause all sorts of strange problems.

Sorry but oversizing these cannot make things "better". Not a bad idea but the factory ground wire gauge size is sufficent.

Sounds like you fixed a failing connection in the nick of time ;)

HTH :)

[sp. edit]
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8) Do I sense some gauge envy? :lol:

True, increased girth of my bundled cable is overkill, but it was free wire (aside from the price to install my amp) and the quality and size of wire should more then eliminate near future ground issues :twisted:
Damn 2 guage? What kind of amp did you install 1000+Watts? When I had my 500Watt amp installed in my 4runner they said 4 guage was overkill (but I used it anyway ;)).

2 guage must have been like bolting down a garden hose for those ground wires! Don't get me wrong, I'm not dissing you at all. If I had some 2 guage lying around I'd use it too, you'll probably NEVER have to replace those grounds again! I'm just wondering why 2 guage was even necessary in the first place (for the amp).
Hmm, I've got a few feet of 2/0 welding cable laying around still. :lol:
Bigger is not always better. The reason the wires fail near the crimp, is that they need to flex somewhere, as the engine shakes a lot when idling. If the wire is too big, it will have trouble flexing, and could fail mechanically rather than corrosion related.
I used some #6 wire for mine, and made them long enough so they had only minimal flexing on the ends, and taped them at the ring terminal end so they would not flex there. As with many things moderation is the best rule, even for ground wires.
A tip when working with black electrical tape is to make the last wrap unstretched, so it will stay in place when heated, and to coat the tape with clear PVC pipe cement, to glue the tape into one mass. I have wrapped broken wooden rake handles with this technique, and the tape last for years with no degredation, unwraping, or stickness.
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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:

Lately I find my self in 5th gear in PIMA at 30-45MPH, which at 30MPH is about 1100RPM, or idle. It is amazing how much torque the electric has compared to the gas at that rpm.
Somebody needs to make up a few of these and offer them for sale. Not the gold plated ones, just good flexible cables the right length and with the right sized terminators, and with a little tube of the right kind of goop.
When I had the stereo shop make mine, the guy wanted me to call him back about how it went with them, and if they helped at all. He had that kind of sparkle in his eye about selling them I think ;). To whom, I don't know, there are only three Insights in town that I have seen.

Oh and just so you know, he charged me $14 for them all together (wire, ends, custom work: soldering and waterproofing)
Mike Dabrowski 2000 said:
Bigger is not always better. The reason the wires fail near the crimp, is that they need to flex somewhere, as the engine shakes a lot when idling. If the wire is too big, it will have trouble flexing, and could fail mechanically rather than corrosion related.
The beautiful thing is the quality and quantity of braided, twisted copper wire inside these 2 gauge cables. There are 12 bundles of fine braided wire. They flex, and the shrink wrapped ends won't come apart easy :twisted: Much better then tape :!:

The reason welding wire wouldn't be good, is electrical current travels down the OUTSIDE of the copper wire. Gauge alone does not describe the wires potential surface area. Having thousands of fine copper wire twisted and braided dramatically increases surface area, and decreases resistance to current accross the wires length. :?
What I noticed at first was that we have copper cables with aluminum crimped ends bolted to aluminum with a steel bolt (electrolysis).
Hi everybody, bringing an old thread back to life. I'm getting ready to replace all of my ground cables. I'm wondering/worrying about the lug material, and I'd like to get people's thoughts.

It seems that most of the ground cable lug mounting points are painted surfaces, so it seems like we shouldn't have to worry too much about aluminum chassis to copper contact at the lug. Still, the OP says that the OEM lugs are aluminum. So, I'm thinking that Honda was possibly a little concerned.

1. Should I be looking for aluminum lugs? Those seem to be somewhat rare.
2. On the galvanic corrosion scale, it seems like tin-aluminum plays along better that copper-aluminum. Would tin-plated copper cable lugs be a better choice for the G1 that standard copper lugs? Sources for those are much easier to find.
3. Am I worrying too much about this? If so, why?

I'll be using no-ox-id grease in between for extra protection, but I just want to make sure that I'm doing things the best way, the first time.

Thanks for any and all input!
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Doing further reading, I found the following paragraph:

As a result, galvanic corrosion is the most commonly occurring form of corrosion in aluminum electrical applications. Often used as an electrical conductor in either cable form, connector form or as the bussing in panels, aluminum will require tin-plated bussing and connectors to mitigate galvanic reaction when connected to copper or steel. An oxide-inhibiting compound should also be used to ensure moisture (electrolyte) does not reach the contact surface and facilitate galvanic reaction.

So, I'm thinking that tin-plated copper lugs are definitely better for the G1 that plain copper lugs. Aluminum lugs might be ideal for the G1, but only if going with tin-plated copper wiring. And I'm still looking for a good source of high-quality aluminum crimping lugs.
The aluminum-tin combo sounds/looks about right, or on the right path, based on when I looked into these things a bit. Here's a thread (one post) I made a while back with an 'anodic index' table for different metals:

I never did figure out 'stuff' very well/deeply... Here's a couple quick points:

-the paint under the lug probably doesn't matter too much; I'm pretty sure it usually scrapes off so that the lug contacts the aluminum chassis... On the other hand, it seems like the main contact is between the threaded hole into the chassis and the bolt holding the lug down, and between the lug and the wire in the cable... So it'd be aluminum to 'lug material', and between 'lug material' and presumably cooper wire...

-Most of the Honda OEM fasteners that go into Insight aluminum are "Dacro-coated"... I think most of these have blue or green markings on them, or they have a sort of greenish tint on the hex head... In general they have a sort of silvery, light grey finish... I'm pretty sure I looked for those fasteners and for an anodic index value, but never found anything...

-it's often hard to tell what material/s are in use. For the battery pack, for example, I think the busbars are aluminum but might be coated; some of them are a bit different, too; the stick lugs might be nickel-plated opposed to some generic(?) stainless steel; the bolts I think are 'yellow zinc-chromate' or something like that...

For the ground cables, I think one might try to find lug and bolt materials that minimize/'bridge' the difference between anodic indexes for copper (if you use copper wire, -0.35) and one of the aluminums ("2000 series wrought aluminum" -0.75, "Aluminum, wrought alloys other than 2000" -0.90, "Aluminum, cast alloys other than silicon type" -0.95)?...

For example, copper has an anodic index of -0.35, and let's assume we're dealing with 'aluminum, cast' at -0.95 (I have no idea what kind of aluminum the chassis is). The anodic index value for the lug and bolt should probably be between these values, at about -0.65, no? Looking at the table in the thread I linked to, I see "tin-plate, tin lead solder" at -0.65, and "chromium plated; tin plated; 12% chromium type corrosion resistant steels" above that at -0.60...
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Thanks eq1, for the confirmation that I was thinking about this correctly. I've gone ahead and ordered some tin-plated copper lugs to go between the regular copper wire and the chassis. I've also ordered new ground cable bolts from Honda, for good measure, in case any coating on the originals has worn off in the last 17 years.
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