How to Tighten Battery Terminals (The Right way)

Depending on the type of terminals on your car’s battery, you can experience difficulty in trying to loosen them when, for example, you need to replace the current battery with a new one.

If they are still in good condition, you’ll want to keep them on so cutting them is not an option.

But getting them off the right way can take a much longer time than you’d planned!

How do you tighten the battery terminals the right way and stop this from happening in the first place? How do you protect your hands so that you don’t end up with bruised knuckles?

This post shares tips on how you can tighten the car battery terminals the right way so that they are not too tight, explain the dangers if you overtighten them, and lastly provides tips on how you to easily loosen tight battery terminals.

Tips to Tighten Battery terminals the Right Way

Depending on the type of battery terminal, you may be able to use a battery terminal wrench to tighten the terminal until it holds the battery post snugly without any wiggle.

When there Is Wiggle in The Battery Terminals (even when after Tightening)


  • A pair of split joint pliers to gently press and narrow the diameter of the terminal

The Steps

#1. Make sure the battery terminals are clean and free of corrosion or rust. If there is corrosion or rust, wiggle the battery terminal off the battery post to remove it.

#2. Next, place the battery terminal cleaner over the battery post and rotate it to remove any corrosion until it is clean.

You can also use a paper towel to clean any bits of corrosion that there might be over the battery post.

#3. Use the smaller side of the battery terminal cleaner to clean the inside of the battery terminal.

You can use a wire brush to remove any corrosion that the battery terminal cannot get to.

#4. Loosen the battery terminal bolt and nut

#5. Next, use the split joint pliers to gently press the battery terminal to reduce its diameter so that it grips the battery post tightly.

Lastly, place the battery terminal over the battery post and tighten the nut. It should now hold the battery post snugly without any wiggle.

How Tight to make Battery Terminals

Using a battery terminal wrench to hold and turn the nut to reduce the diameter of the terminal so that it holds the battery post tight enough.

Aim for a solid and firm electrical contact between the battery post (s) and terminal(s).

You should not be able to rotate the terminal side by side by hand once tightened.

Battery Terminals too Tight – is it possible?

Yes, it is possible to overdo it. Aim for the terminals to hold the posts such that you can not twist them by hand. Beyond that and they’re probably too tight.

Dangers of making them too Tight

If you make the battery terminals too tight, then:

#1. This can take you longer than necessary to loosen the terminal. Loosening the battery terminals can be a challenge. An attempt to loosen the nut may, for example, cause both the nut and bolt to rotate.

#2. You may damage not only the battery terminals but also the battery posts!

Related Questions

When the Battery Terminals won’t Tighten

If the battery terminals are oversized, use battery shims. Place them over the battery posts. Battery shims are lead caps that you can fit onto the battery posts so that the battery terminals can hold the battery post snugly.

You can also follow the steps above on how to tighten loose battery terminals.

Closing Thoughts

Use a battery terminal wrench to tighten the battery terminal(s). Aim to make the terminal tight enough so that it is snug with no wiggle. Making it too tight risks damage to the battery terminal and post.

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