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Is Black or Red Positive on A Battery? All You Need to Know

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Is black or red positive on a battery? The short answer is that red is positive and black is negative.

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Battery problems are very common, and as the winter season approaches, we'll see more and more people pulling over and dealing with battery problems, especially in the early mornings.

A dead battery is one of the very common problems you might deal with when you drive your car. The good news is that resolving it better is very simple, and all that it takes is a quick jump start in many cases. However, if you get into this situation, do you know which battery terminal and cable to connect to first? Do you know is black or red positive on a battery?

This article provides all you need to know to help you answer the question, is black or red positive on a battery? It also highlights important information about what could go wrong if you connect the wrong cables to the wrong terminals.

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Why is it important to understand the positive and negative battery terminals?

Before diving into the details about a black or red positive on a battery, we must understand why it is important to differentiate between the two battery cables.

Typically, the positive or red terminal contains the larger electric charge in the battery. For example, the battery typically has about 12 volts, and these 12 volts should be located at the positive terminal, and there is a 12 Volt difference between the two terminals.

This means your positive terminal holds 12 more volts than the negative terminal. In that case, if you touch the positive terminal by mistake, you can't cause some risks that could impact your life.

It's critical that you find yourself with different battery cable colors because when you perform a jump start, you must follow a certain order. You have to start with a certain cable to be connected first so you don't cause negative consequences.

1.    Risk your life

One of the first things that could go wrong if you connect the wrong terminal to the wrong cable is exposing yourself to a massive battery charge that could put your life at risk. Therefore, knowing simple information like the battery terminal colors and symbols is extremely important, which you shouldn’t underestimate as a driver.

2.    Damage the battery

The other thing you might cause when you connect the wrong battery terminals is damaging the battery itself. Many things could go wrong when the battery is damaged, ranging from simple issues you can fix to some problems that require complete battery replacement.

3.    Destroy all our electric components

Connecting the wrong terminals to the wrong cables not only impacts the battery or yourself but could also cause problems to the different electrical components. The battery is responsible for charging these electric components at certain times, especially when you kick off your vehicle for an early start.

When the battery deals with backward or wrong terminal connections, it might release massive amounts of electric charge that could impact the sensitive components. This problem becomes more complicated if you're driving a luxury or modern vehicle that relies a ton on electric components.

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Is black or red positive on a battery?

Now you have a general understanding of what could go wrong if you connect the wrong battery terminals to the wrong cables; the next question you might ask yourself is, “is black or red positive on a battery?”

The short answer is that typically red is always positive, and black is always negative. Sometimes certain vehicles might provide additional details to help you determine positive or negative. For example, you might see some symbols indicating A + for a positive terminal and a – sign for a negative terminal.

However, if your vehicle doesn't have this luxury, you need to educate yourself and understand exactly which terminal is positive and negative by monitoring the colors. You can also always go back to the vehicle owner’s manual and learn one or two things about the vehicle so you can avoid problems by mistakes.

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Do I connect red or black first?

You must first connect the red or positive terminal in any jump-start process. You don't ever want to start attaching the black or negative terminals because this leads to many complications that could impact their safety.

Remember that the order becomes reversed if you're trying to disconnect the two vehicles’ batteries. In other words, if you finish the jump start process and you're about to disconnect the different vehicles, you need to start by disconnecting the negative cable first and then the last thing to remove the positive Cable.

Some many videos and tutorials help you go through a step-by-step process of performing a jump start. We highly encourage you to get one of these processes as much as possible to avoid dealing with consequences.

Even expert drivers might get into situations where they connect the wrong battery terminals, which might lead to situations that could impact your safety or the electric components in your vehicle. Therefore, even if it's your 5th or even tenth time performing a jumpstart, it doesn't hurt to remind yourself of the process so you don't connect the wrong term by mistakes.

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How do I know which battery terminal is positive and which is negative?

As we indicated before, typically, the red color indicates a positive terminal, and the black color indicates a negative terminal.

However, there are some situations where the battery case might have some casing that doesn't necessarily show the colors. In that case, you need to follow and look for the sign marks that could indicate the right negative or positive terminals.

Another important resource you can follow is checking your vehicle owner’s manual. It should have detailed information about where everything is located, including minor components like the sensors and the different details about your vehicle battery.

You can also look at other vehicles and search for some vehicles similar to yours online and get an idea about how to perform a jumpstart and where the negative and positive terminals are.

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What happens if you connect the negative terminal first?

We highlighted earlier that you need to connect the right terminals to the right cables. However, what's more, important is to understand the order when performing a jumpstart about whether you should first connect the negative or the positive terminals.

Typically, you need to start with connecting the positive terminal. However, if you've connected the negative terminal first, you can risk yourself and cause potential consequences that could impact your life.

Experts indicated that there is a very high chance that you might start an explosion by connecting the negative terminal first. Therefore, it is critical that you follow the right procedure and, as we mentioned earlier, remind yourself of how the process is done, so you don't get involved in some major consequences.

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What happens if you mix up positive and negative?

Mixing up the positive and negative cables and terminals can lead to many negative consequences like those indicated before. For example, the worst thing that could happen is that you might get injured because of an electric shock.

Other consequences might involve damaging the battery or impacting sensitive electronic components in your vehicle, especially if you're driving a modern car with many systems relying on the electric supply.

Can jumping a car wrong ruin your alternator?

Unfortunately, the wrong jumpstart can easily lead to damaging your vehicle alternator. That's why we always encourage you to follow the right process, connect the correct terminals first, and never underestimate the potential consequences.

The alternator is not a cheap component, and if you're dealing with a problem with your battery, the issue can get more complicated and completely damage the alternator. In that case, you will need to replace the battery and the alternator.

Replacing the battery might be a little bit easy; however, replacing the alternator might require a certain level of mechanical skill sets, so you need to consult a professional mechanic. In that case, you have to also consider including labor costs that could be significant if you're planning to go to a dealership.

Therefore, if you're planning to perform a jump start, continuously remind yourself of the process, connect the correct terminals, and follow the right procedure when performing the jump start. You also need to follow a similar procedure when disconnecting the two vehicles and removing the cables.

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What should you not do when you jump-start a car?

As you noticed before, a simple mistake like reversing the cables might lead to many negative consequences that could cost you some damage and also impact your life. However, there are some other minor things that you need to consider whenever you perform a jump start, so you don't deal with any potential consequences that you never want to deal with:

  • Keeps the jump cables clams away from each other and never allow them to touch each other because they can lead to electric shocks
  • Never perform a jump start if you've never done it before
  • Familiarize yourself with the process carefully and perform all required precautions before moving forward with the jumpstart
  • Choose your location when performing the jump start and avoid wet areas or what weather conditions

These are just simple recommendations that focus on protecting yourself and some of the major components in your vehicle. However, there are many details that you have to keep in mind, and that's why if this is your first time performing a jumpstart, it's better for you to follow certain videos and look for professionals to follow the right process.

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Is black or red positive on a battery? Final thoughts

It's very common to deal with battery problems during the lifetime of your vehicle. One very common situation you might encounter is the need to perform a jump start when your battery is dead.

While the don't start process sounds very straightforward, there are many details that you have to be careful about, especially when deciding to connect which cable to which terminal. One of the common questions we receive from our readers is, is black or red positive on a battery?

As we indicated in our article, red is always positive in your vehicle, and black is negative. However, if you cannot see the colors as you're looking for your battery terminals, you can always rely on the signs written on the battery. These signs will say (+) for positive and (-) for negative.

Suppose you realize that you need to perform a jumpstart continuously on your vehicle. In that case, it's important to go back to the basics and see whether you have internal problems causing your vehicle to kill the battery continuously. If that's the case, fixing these problems might make the most sense rather than wasting your time and effort trying to deal with jumpstarts every time you start your vehicle.

Remember that sometimes problems might require thousands of dollars for repair; if that's the case, try evaluating the situation and seeing whether it's worth fixing your vehicle or selling it instead.

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