1994 Toyota Corolla - Disconnecting Negative Cable on Battery

My grandmother has a 1994 Toyota Corolla. I was trying to figure out how to disconnect the battery to her car, so it wouldn’t go dead while she’s out visiting us for 2 1/2 months. However, I couldn’t figure out how to get the negative cable off. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of the engine compartment, but most sites I go to state to disconnect the negative cable first before the positive cable.

There didn’t appear to be a nut on top of the terminal or the bottom of the cable. The only nut I found was on the side of I think the cable, which was connected to a screw. The positive cable I probably could have gotten off, but didn’t want to chance it with the negative cable still connected.

That being said, I wasn’t able to get the cable off, but a neighbor said she would give the car a start up for a bit whenever she was over to water plants, etc. while my grandmother was out visiting us. She lives in Washington State and we live in New Jersey.

It was nice of you to want to help your grandmother, but I now understand why they don’t let you pump your own gas in New Jersey.

They tell you to remove the negative terminal first because you won’t cause an arc if your wrench touches the car metal if you are working on the negative terminal. It will on if you do the same thing while working on the positive terminal with the negative terminal still attached.

Getting battery cables off isn’t entirely obvious and isn’t all that discoverable. For the type of terminal I think you are talking about you loosen the bolt on the side then grasp the terminal and twist alternately clockwise and counterclockwise until the terminal slips off. But sometimes they don’t come off all that easily.

In any case, chances are that a 1994 Corolla can sit for 10 weeks and still start if the battery is in decent shape and starts off charged.

Generally I turn the screw until it loosens. If I can’t turn the screw, I cut the terminal or the screw and replace the terminal or the entire cable assembly. You are allowed to take the positive one off but you have to not let it try to put itself back in position when the cable tries to bend itself back where it came from.

Back to the negative, just loosen the screw and the nut. Just because you can’t tell how the terminal works does not mean that it won’t come off.

Perhaps you’d want to buy a battery tender instead, especially if she’ll make other long visits in the future.

Starting the car for a short time while watering plants really isn’t the best thing for the car. You need to get it up to full operating temperature to keep moisture from accumulating in various places.

It wouldn’t hurt to put some fuel stabilizer in the tank, although a few months really isn’t too long as far as that goes.


You do not mention how old this battery is?
Will this car be parked in a garage, or out in the street?

A battery will go dead only if it is already old enough, whether it’s still hooked up or not. Taking the battery out, will not acomplish anything. Besides, if you’re having trouble with a simple battery cable disconnect, then it is much better that you leave them as they are. You will gain nothing by disconnecting the battery. All you have to do is make sure that no lights are being forgotten in the on possition, while she is gone. If the battery is in decent shape to begin with, that’s how she’ll find it after 3 months.
Also, asking your neighbour to “give the car a start up for a bit” will actually do to the battery exactly what you’re trying to avoid. Unless this neighbour can start the car and DRIVE it for at least 30 minutes or 25 miles with all accessories in the off position (no radio, no lights on, etc, etc) you’re MUCH better off just letting the car sit for the 3 months.

First of all, how about you just start the car up and drive it around the block once or twice a week?

If you can’t do that the battery will probably die on you, so at the end of your grandmother’s stay, you will almost certainly need to jump-start her car when she wants to go home.
But to your question, buy some black electrical tape. Disconnect the red positive battery terminal and immediately wrap it up thoroughly in the black electrical tape. Then just drop it anywhere and when gramma is ready to back home, remove the tape and replace the positive terminal. Make sure the terminal is seated properly and is nice and tight. Then recharge the battery or jump-start the engine.

Or just follow my first suggestion. You can spend the drive around the block each week resetting your gramma’s radio station settings.

Hi everyone.

Thanks for your advice. The battery is a new battery, which was purchased March of 2010. My grandmother only drives around town, and puts maybe 1,000 PER YEAR on the car.

The car is parked in the garage, and sometimes what ends up happening, is that when my grandmother goes back home, my uncle will take her car down to Portland Airport to pick her up. This is about a 1 hour drive one way, with a majority of it highway driving.

@kikzwiki: Or you could dispense with the electrical tape entirely, and move directly to your “Then recharge the battery or jump-start the engine” step.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to disconnect the negative terminal? This would also allow you to dispense with the electrical tape and save you a trip to the store.

Wouldn’t it also be cheaper and save you a trip to the store to simply disconnect both terminals?

A battery tender or maintainer, as was mentioned, seems to be the best solution for a car such as your grandmother’s that is parked for extended periods of time.

Look around to see if you can find a Black & Decker Smart Float Mode Maintainer/12 volt battery charger from Vector Products Inc. Model BM2B. It has a 2 amp and a 1 amp setting. The 1 amp setting will be adequate but the 2 amp setting can be used to charge a battery faster. It has LED indicator lights to show that it is working. I can’t recall where I got mine, either an auto parts store or else a local farm supply store.

The maintainer comes supplied with a pair of clipleads for connection to the battery terminals or better yet, for your grandmother, it has a male cigar lighter plug that she can simply plug in. The maintainer/charger operates on 120V 60 HZ house power. Cost was around 20 or 25 dollars.

Hi everyone, thanks for all your advice and tips. My uncle is now back from his semi-annual trip to France, and he is taking her car out at least for the next few days around town to do his errands.

Normally he will do this, but he was away when we left Washington, but as I said, he is back now.