5 Symptoms of a Bad Ground Strap in the Car

The ground strap is the heavy black wire which connects to the car battery’s negative terminal. Some other names for the strap include the ground wire or ground cable. The ground strap is the foundation over the entire vehicle’s electrical system. All the electricity that flows throughout your vehicle goes through the ground strap. If you were to have a bad ground strap in your vehicle, then you will have all kinds of electrical problems. These would not just be minor problems either because it would affect your ability to operate the vehicle altogether.

The Top 5 Symptoms

Fortunately, it is very easy to recognize the symptoms of a bad ground strap. The symptoms might start out being minor, but they could progressively get worse if you don’t do anything about the ground strap. Do not wait until that happens. Take any electrical problems seriously when they occur in your vehicle.

Below are the top 5 symptoms of having a bad ground strap in the car.

Flickering Lights – If your ground strap is damaged or worn out, the electrical circuit will come across resistance while trying to deliver power to the headlights in front of your vehicle. As a result, you should notice your headlights either flickering and/or dimming on a regular basis. This will not just be a one-time incident as long as your ground strap continues to stay in such bad condition. In some cases, your ground strap may just be a little bit loose and will require you to tighten it securely. Otherwise, you will need to replace it altogether if it is damaged or worn.

Low Voltage – If there still appears to be electricity in your vehicle but it is not as powerful, you can conduct a voltage test on your battery. A digital multimeter can be used to measure the amount of voltage coming from your battery terminals. A voltage reading of 12.6 would be within the normal range. But if you have a reading that is under 11.5 volts, it is probably due to a bad ground strap.

Dead Battery – If the ground strap is unable to deliver a charge to the battery, then you can expect the battery to die very quickly. The charging system of the battery depends on the ground strap. If the strap is bad, then the battery cannot be charged. Of course, another reason for a dead battery could be issues with your alternator or the wire which connects from the alternator to the battery. But if these parts are in good condition and you still have a dead battery, then chances are it is the fault of the ground strap.

Car Won’t Start – There could be a dozen reasons as to why your car won’t start. But if you’ve experienced the first three symptoms on this list beforehand, then it is safe to assume that you’ll soon have problems starting your vehicle. When the ground strap is bad and you attempt to start your vehicle, you will probably hear a lot of tapping sounds. This is coming from the solenoid of the starter while it is opening and closing repeatedly. That happens because it is not getting enough voltage, due to the ground strap being in bad shape.

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Visible Ground Strap Damage – The best way to confirm that your ground strap is in bad shape is to visually inspect it yourself. If the ground strap appears to be damaged or worn out just by looking at it, then it is safe to assume that it has gone bad. This is especially the case if you notice the other symptoms mentioned here too. The only thing you can do at this point is to replace the strap with a new one.

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