How To Clean Car Battery Corrosion

November 5, 2013

In many cases, ignition problems can be fixed by cleaning battery corrosion from terminals and clamps, which couldn't be simpler.

Battery Corrosion

Battery corrosion is a problem that should be prevented early on. There are several reasons why a battery corrodes. Prevention is always the key when it comes to car maintenance. However, should you encounter a situation where your battery is already corroded, there's no need to panic. There are ways to clean battery corrosion.

Tools and Materials

  • Rubber gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • A new paint brush
  • Steel wool or toothbrush
  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • A clean cloth
  • A wrench
  • Vice grips (locking pliers)
  • Petroleum jelly or grease

Remove the Battery Cables
To start cleaning battery corrosion, first remove the battery cables from the terminal. To do this, loosen the nut on each cable clamp. Make sure that you remove the negative terminal first, which is marked by the negative sign (-). If there is too much battery terminal corrosion, then use the vice grip to help you loosen the nuts.

Car Battery Cable Replacement Made Simple >>

Check the Battery Clamps and Cables
Once you have removed the cables and clamps, check to see if there is any corrosion on them. If you see any extensive damage due to corrosion, you may need to replace the cables and clamps.

Check the Battery Terminal
You also need to check the battery terminal for corrosion. Use a brush to clean off any dust from the terminal. Check to see if there are any cracks on the battery case and damage on the terminal.

How to Replace a Battery Terminal >>

Use the Baking Soda
Once you have determined where corrosion occurred, you can now remove it. Sprinkle some baking soda on the battery posts, cables and wires on areas where the corrosion is visible.

Brush the Battery Terminal
Use a toothbrush on small or hard to reach places. Dip the toothbrush in water and then scrub the areas where you have sprinkled baking soda. Don't forget to wear safety goggles and rubber gloves when doing this. Scrub the corrosion off the terminal posts and cable clamps. The reaction of the baking soda and water will generally dissolve the battery corrosion. However, if the toothbrush is not doing the work, switch to a steel brush. When you remove battery corrosion, safety is always important, especially if there are cracks in the battery terminal that you didn't see. After you're done, wipe everything dry.

Add Grease
After everything has dried off, put some petroleum jelly or grease onto the posts. This can help slow down the corrosion formation. Make sure you also include all exposed metals, including the cables, clamps and battery posts.

Hook up the Battery
When putting the battery cables back, make sure you place the positive clamp before you place the negative clamp. Tighten the nuts with a wrench. After everything is tight, you can replace the rubber boot or plastic shield covering the positive terminal.

Another Tip for Dealing with Car Battery Corrosion

You may find it a little hard to believe, but Coke, or any other cola, is an excellent way of removing corrosion from the terminals of your battery. When you pour a can of cola onto your battery, the acid in the beverage makes quick work of the calcified matter that is clogging up the terminals and blocking the current from passing from the battery to your car's engine. The acid literally eats into the calcium corrosion and it dissolves away.

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