What Color is Positive on a Car Battery? (Explained)

What Color is Positive on a Car Battery

The car battery is important to the running of an engine and also responsible for powering some electrical components in the car. The battery is said to have two terminals: positive (+) and negative (-).

However, if there are positive and negative terminals in a car battery, how do you know which one is positive and the negative? What color is positive on a car battery?

The positive terminal on a car battery is mostly the color red with a (+) sign. To avoid confusion, double-check by looking for the plus sign on the case of the battery.

Does Battery Have Positive and Negative?

Yes, a battery has both positive and negative. The battery in any electronic or mechanical device is responsible for converting chemical energy into electrical.

This is done when a wire is connected between the positive and negative terminal thereby producing streams of electrons. There will be no chemical energy if the positive and negative terminals are not connected.

A battery is known to have 3 parts; the ‘electrolyte’, ‘cathode (-)’, and the ‘anode (+)’. The positive and negative are usually positioned at both ends of a battery with the positive marked (+) and the negative marked (-).

Depending on the car battery or the volts in use, both positive and negative may not be positioned at the ends rather they may be found side by side on the unit.

The connection between both cathode and anode results in a build-up of electrons, this build-up which specifically takes place in the anode leads to an electrical difference.

An electrolyte is a chemical solution that keeps the balance between the anode and cathode by stopping the electrons produced from going directly to the cathode from the anode. The electrolyte in a battery usually surrounds the cathode and anode.

What Color is Positive on a Car Battery?

It is quite clear and easy to tell the positive and negative terminal on a battery apart. The positive terminal is almost always red with a protective red cover, but there are cases where the positive terminal has a black cover with a red (+) sign over it.

It is possible that one gets confused as to whether the positive terminal is indicated with black or red, in which case you should check for the (+) sign on it.

Most batteries usually have the signs stamped on the case as an additional means of identification. Therefore, you can either identify the positive terminal by color or sign.

What Does the Positive Indicate?

The positive terminal also known as ‘anode’ is the electrodes or side of the two connections that receive electrons (electrical charge).

The color code for the positive terminal is red with a (+) sign. This color and sign are also used on every device that is powered by a direct current supply.

The positive terminal of a battery is said to be positively charged and therefore needs electrons to be at equilibrium.

During a connection, the direct current device and the power supply should be connected to each other i.e. positive to positive.

However, this may not be possible for some direct current appliances like the heater, the heater does not have a polarity requirement therefore, there is usually no sign marking on them.

If by mistake, a wrong connection is made e.g. connecting a positive terminal to a negative it will likely result in damage to the power supply and device.

What Does the Negative Indicate?

The negative terminal also known as ‘cathode’ is the side of the two connections from which electrons flow, the negatively charged electrode. It is indicated with the (-) sign or the color black. The negative terminal is the source of electrons and it attracts the positive charge.

The negative terminal initiates the movement of electrons in the circuit and also produces current. Just like the positive terminal, the negative current device and power supply should be connected to one another i.e. negative to negative.

If in trying to recognize the negative terminal there is a color mix-up, you can always confirm by looking for the (-) sign on the case.

Some people are of the opinion that the negative terminal does all the work in a battery because it produces and directs the flow of electrons and all the positive terminal does is receive.

Reasons To Know the Positive and Negative Car Battery

One of the basic knowledge one should have about a car is differentiating between the positive and negative terminal of the car battery.

You may not know when this knowledge will be of use, in fact, it may be the only thing that will save you from a difficult car situation if stranded.

A lot can go wrong if you are unable to recognize the positive and negative terminals, here are some reasons why you should be able to differentiate between them;

1. It Will Prevent Short Circuit Problems in the Car

One reason why you should be able to recognize the positive and negative terminal is that it prevents short circuits in the car.

If out of ignorance the negative and positive terminals are connected, it will result in the delivery of a large amount of energy within a short period. This large delivery of energy may cause damage to the car electronics.

2. Production of Hydrogen will be Prevented

The wrong connection of both terminals will result in a great and unwanted surge of electric current. It will also cause the battery to heat up and large production of hydrogen because of the chemical reactions.

3. Damage to the Battery is Averted

Serious damage can be done to the battery itself if one can’t differentiate between the terminals and there is a wrong connection.

The battery tries to make up and compensate for a wrong connection but unfortunately, all that happens is a large surge of power.

4. Serious Damage to the Jumper Cable

If a wrong connection were to be made when jump-starting the battery, the first to be affected is the jumper cables.

The insulator on the jumper cable gets melted by the heat produced thereby rendering it useless. Being able to recognize the terminals will also prevent damage to the jumper cable.

5. Damage to the Individual

Other than damages that can be done to the battery and other parts, severe damage can also be done to the people around.

Physical damage is likely to happen if the battery hasn’t been used for a long time or it’s in a bad state then adding a badly connected terminal to the mix. Doing this can cause the battery to explode.


Even if you have no interest in how a car works, you should be able to recognize and differentiate between the positive and negative terminals of a car battery. Going by all that has been explained, you can tell it is quite easy to identify them.

At all costs, try to avoid a wrong connection, negative should be connected to negative and positive to positive