Hood prop in contact with battery

I had a new battery installed (in my 2003 Honda Civic) by one of those “swift-oil-change” places a few years ago. A mechanic just told me that this new battery is creating a fire hazard, as the hood prop lies directly across the positive pole of the battery - although the hood prop is insulated by a rubber sheath at that spot. He recommended I get a new battery, one in which the poles stick up on the rear side of the battery and so are not in contact with the metal hood prop. Thoughts? Am I going to die in a fiery inferno?

Are you going to die? Probably not. But if it makes you feel better, go to your auto parts store and buy a roll of silicone repair tape. Wrap the tape around the hood prop where is abuts the positive battery terminal. (Use the silicone tape instead of vinyl electricians tape because the silicone tape is for high temperature and won’t melt like the vinyl will.)

Then, in three years or so when this battery conks out, buy the right one.

If that rubber sheath becomes degraded or disconnected from the hood prop, then you are in for a host of expensive electrical problems. An honest and honorable facility would replace the battery at no charge once this mistake is pointed out to them, but–more than likely–a quick lube place doesn’t fit that description.

I guess you can say that this is just one more bit of evidence for never going to a quick lube place. As one of the veterans of this forum likes to say, “Don’t ever go to a quick-lube place. Not even for directions”.

I checked on the Advance Auto website and the recommended battery size is 51R with top terminals. Check the battery to make sure it’s the right size. Perhaps the quick lube place put in a different battery size that’s too tall. If it is not a 51R I would give the quick lube place to make it right, but don’t hold your breath.

Ed B

+1 to Jesmed1. My daughter in law has an 04 Civic, same thing with the hood prop touching the top of the battery. While it has an insulating sheath, I am leery of the design. I make a point of checking it often, every time I check the oil. Keep an eye on it, add the tape as said above and you will be OK

I checked on the Advance Auto website and the recommended battery size is 51R with top terminals.

The Interstate batteries catalog say 51 not 51R maybe that’s the problem the terminals are reversed. After all it was a quickie lube, who knows what they stuffed in there. A friend of mine once bought the wrong terminal configuration and the cables would actually reach but the prop rod would hit the positive terminal.

If you switch to a different battery style than recommended by Honda, make sure the existing connecters won’t have a clearance problem. I think you’d be better off just using the correct battery for the car. Batteries are identified by a number like 51R, as posted above. That number defines all the dimensions (L x W X H) and post orientation. If it is still a close fit, it might make more sense to buy a battery directly from a Honda dealer, as there might be some slight sizing differences for even the same battery number between manufacturers.

I’d be hesitant to depend on insulating tape etc, as batteries are heavy and can bounce up and down and shift around when you hit potholes, and you don’t realize it. If the + battery post were to come in contact with the hood or anything connected to the car’s chassis (which is grounded), you could indeed end up w/ a car fire. So it’s important to get this correct. If I were in this situation I’d high tail it to a Honda dealership and ask one of the mechanics there for their recommendation. They probably run into this all the time.

Your new mechanic is correct; the battery needs to be replaced. At the least the sheath can wear through due to vibration and when that happens there will be a direct short which will likely blow fusible links and possibly fry who knows what.

At the worst the engine can quit running at an inopportune time and yes there is risk of a fire hazard from this.

Thanks, everyone. It is a 51R battery, with poles sticking up on the top of the battery, front (bumper) side. Does the regular 51 have the poles on the rear (windshield) side of the top? I don’t know if the quick-lube place would replace it, since it’s been at least a couple years…

Yes, the terminals face the engine, not the “bumper”. The rubber isolator is there to keep the hood prop from contacting the battery + terminal if the prop rod misses the snap anchor hold-down when being lowered.

After 11 winters, mine is still intact, but it would have to be replaced if it ever broke off.

Winter is coming, battery is a couple years old anyway, maybe just replace it and be done with it.

Steve CBT’s comment makes me wonder if this issue was in the original design of the car - I don’t remember how the original battery was oriented…

When that battery dies buy the right one. I did a google image search for ‘2003 Civic battery’ so I could see your situation. A side post battery, which is what I THOUGHT your mechanic was suggesting, is not called for. The proper top post battery is what you need, as stated above. The Iffy Lube place (typical) is not about to replace a three year old battery for free even though they installed the wrong one. Just keep an eye on the insulation, and insulate the + battery post too.

For reference:


Anyone who follows the BBC show Top Gear may remember on a few occasions where an old car piloted by Jeremy Clarkson ended up quitting on the road due to the battery positive post wearing through insulation and shorting out against the hood.

I think one episode was the trek across the desert in Botswana and the other was when they were trying to find the worst car ever built.

Are you going to die? Unfortunately yes. Whether that is poor design or planned obsolescence I will leave to you. I would insulate the hood prop or the pos+ battery terminal, but unless they are actually continually touching, or you are in an accident where things get bent and scraped, this is not likely to cause a problem. However, if you are in an accident bad enough to cause a short, it may be the least of your problems anyway.

GM decided that the hood being in close proximity to the battery terminals back in the 70s, decided to create side-mount battery terminals. While this somewhat might have helped (unless the front was caved in and the metal touched the battery terminals that way), it mostly just caused poor connections and frustration at the tiny bolts that attached them, that soon got rounded off or corroded beyond salvation.

Insulating things better is a good idea, but don’t lose sleep over it.

If the cables are long enough, maybe you can just rotate the battery 180 degrees to move the posts out of the way…

I’ve seen this “design flaw” in several vehicles that I’ve owned. I guess the designers figured that a rubber sleeve on the support rod and a red plastic battery post cover would suffice on the vehicle. They didn’t factor in “Murphy’s Law” which basically states “if something can go wrong…it will go wrong.”

I just realized that I overlooked the detail that this battery was installed a few years ago.
As a result of the time frame, I wouldn’t even attempt to argue the case with the manager at Jerky-Lube. However, I would hope that the OP realizes that this is just one example of how untrained (and/or uncaring) employees can do damage to your car.

My suggestions are to buy a new battery of the correct specification and…to never again go to a quick lube place.

+1 for VDCdriver .