Big 3 Upgrade For your Car

Your car battery cable may need a helping hand. Now is the time to do a Big 3 upgrade to your car.

What is Big 3 Upgrade?

Simply put. It is to add :
1 cable from alternator (your car electric generator) to the battery + terminal.
1 cable from battery – terminal to car body.
1 cable from engine to car body.
Example of Big3 Upgrade.

Plus, you can search on the internet on what it can and cannot do. So, I will skip it on this post. I will offer my view on it instead.

What about Big4?

Big4 includes additional cable from car alternator casing to battery –ve terminal. It is an optional upgrade. This makes starting the car and charging the battery more efficient.

Why add but not change?

Adding a new cable allows you to remove and reuse the cable after you decide to change or scrap the car. You can remove the cables a day before replacing the car. The car will still be able to operate (less efficiently) on its old cable.

Furthermore, electric supply always chooses the easiest path to go. With the new cable added in, all the electric supply will travel through the new cable.

Why grounding cable?

Electric supply needs to go and return back. Therefore, it needs a good supply and return (grounding) cable. Without a good grounding, you are restricting its return flow, thus, limiting its capacity and efficiency. Supply came from engine alternator to battery +ve terminal. The car body is part of the electrical ground. So, connect the battery -ve terminal and the engine (connected to alternator ground) to the car body.

Thick supply wire but thin grounding/return wire. Effective?

Why should I do Big3 upgrade?

If you have upgraded your car entertainment system or added additional gadgets in your car that draws a lot of power.
If your car is more than 10 years old or more than 160,000 kilometres (100,000 miles).
Big3 upgrade will benefit your car electrical system.

Thin supply wire but thick grounding/return wire. Effective?

Why old car needs to replace car battery cable?

Car alternator consistently supply high current through the cable to the battery. It is required to do that in order to supply electricity to the car electrical systems. Singapore humid weather and city driving style does not help in extending the life of the cable. After 10 years or 160,000 kilometre of use, please check the condition of the cables during every regular servicing. If you intend to drive it for another 10 years, it is advisable to change it regardless of the condition.

Thick supply wire and thick grounding/return wire. Much better!

How about Hybrid or electric car?

Hybrid and electric vehicles do not depend on alternator to supply electricity to the car electrical system. It is the job of the inverter. Therefore, upgrade of cable from alternator to battery +ve does not work on Hybrid and Electric vehicle. However, grounding is still very important regardless of what type of vehicles.

What will a bad battery cable do?

The car will not start due to bad connection.
Several electrical components on your car does not work.
You will need to shake the cable in order for it to work.

What to take note?

During the installation of the cable, both battery terminals will be removed when the car engine is off. These are some of the things to take note :

  • Make sure that radio and all electrical equipment are switched off or unplugged before turning off the engine.
  • Make sure the radio volume is turned to the minimum before the radio was switched off.
  • Car radio and other car settings (eg. trip computer, clock, etc) may be reset after battery terminals are reconnected. You may need to manually adjust back the settings.  
  • Some car radio may be locked after battery terminals are reconnected. You may need to key in the password to unlock it, or send to authorised dealer to do it for you.
  • Please check the settings of the radio before turning up the volume.
  • Some speaker’s tweeter may not have protection circuit installed. Turning the volume up before ensuring the settings are correct may damage the speakers.
  • Please check with your car manual or authorised dealer for any other precautionary measures needed.
  • If your car drives normally but its check light came on after installation and did not go off after one day of driving. Please check with a certified technician what causes the check light to come on. Your car may not be suitable to do this upgrade.

Will I feel any difference after fitting this?

The car electrical system will fell the difference. For the driver, it depends.

 There are two sides of argument.

One side will state that it was an absolute waste of money and resources. The difference it made, if any, does not worth the cost of it done. The original car manufacturer should have already installed the most adequate wiring and grounding for your car. It is not necessary to add or modify it. The car will not react any differently from these additional cables.

Another side will argue that the car manufacturer installed what your car required with original equipment and buffer for safety. The manufacturer had to do these with a balance between cost and durability. If the owner starts to add in more equipment that increases electrical load of the car, this may cause it to operate closer to the safety buffer. Especially when owner added high power equipment, eg. 1000W power amplifier or multiple amplifiers.

All equipment has a usage life, with proper maintenance, one can extend the usage life. However, with Singapore weather and mostly city driving, there is very little maintenance that one can do to a copper cable. So, as years gone by, the condition of the cable may deteriorate without the driver noticing it. We cannot see it with our eyes and we cannot feel it by our hands. But a cable with a lot of wear can cause overwork of the alternator, undercharge of the battery and some electrical system not working because of under current. It may be too late when these happens, your car may not start and it can cause misdiagnosis.

Some may feel a difference immediately after the upgrade. Better respond, lower idle rpm, audio sounds better. The difference may be caused by the upgrade. The difference may also causes by resetting the car computer memory after the battery terminals are fitted back. Car computer saved your driving habit and work out a way to run your car efficiently. Reset the computer will cause the computer to relearn your driving habit. This may cause the driver to feel slightly different in the beginning. For a more accurate assessment, you should start comparing it after 1000 kilometer. If you still remember what it feels like 1000 kilometer ago.

Simple diagram of Big3 Upgrade connection.

Why a fuse ?

It an insurance policy for the +ve cable. The fuse must be lower than the cable ampere rating but equal or higher than the car alternator output. In case of any short or over current, the fuse will blow before the cable get burnt. You do not want a fire in the engine compartment. Typically, factory alternator rating, compact to full-size sedan is from 80-125Amp. Minivan/MPV/compact SUV is from 100-150Amp.

It is a worthwhile upgrade? Is it a necessary one?

Only you can answer it. Just like the question, is it necessary to change the exhaust, add a spoiler, change the radio or even change the size of the wheel? Is it good to change or modify the original equipment? You have to decide. The car is yours. Make it your own.

My take.
It is a worthy upgrade. If you are thirsty and have to drink with a straw. Would you like to drink it in a thin or thick straw?

Click here to drop a message if you interested to have Big3 upgrade to your car. You can order the parts and install it yourselves.

You can check out the parts here.

Example of Big3 Upgrade.

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