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How to clean car battery corrosion the right way

  • Car Care Tips
  • Natasha Young
  • 7 minutes

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You can take care of your car’s exterior health with the help of regular car washes, a little bit of waxing, and some polishing. However, have you ever thought of your car’s interior health? Did you know that your car’s battery lasts longer and performs better if it has clean batteries and terminals. In this blog, we’ll teach you how to keep your car battery clean and corrosion-free.  

clean car battery corrosion

What causes battery corrosion? 

Batteries corrode when hydrogen gas from the battery acid reacts with the metal terminals, the most typical cause. You may notice a flaky white or green discoloration on your battery connections due to corrosion. In order to distinguish between corrosion and sulfation, you should keep an eye on the color of any deposit that has formed on your terminals. 

Corrosion v/s Sulfation 

Corrosion and sulfation may generate a similar-looking discharge, but several important variations exist between the two processes. Use a battery tester to ensure that your battery is working correctly. Electrochemical reactions between battery acid and metal terminals can lead to corrosion. It comes in either white or blue/green. 

These two chemical processes are critical to distinguish because corrosion may be readily eliminated as part of a normal maintenance routine, but sulfation often signals more serious battery deterioration. Replacement is recommended as the course of action when a battery enters the sulfation stage. 

Things you will need to remove corrosion 

  • Hand protection, such as a pair of dish gloves. 
  • Baking soda 
  • Petroleum jelly 
  • Soft brush 
  • Toothbrush and some water 

How to clean car battery corrosion 

Remove your car’s battery 

To avoid damaging the car’s delicate electrical components, always remove the battery cables from the battery terminals in the right sequence. Avoid using both terminals at the same time 

Disconnect the ungrounded wire from its corresponding grounded wire first. The grounding terminal is the one that is linked to the vehicle or engine by a wire (some cars may have positive earth). Taking the grounded clamp off first can help avoid unintentional grounding or static sparking from the positive connection, which can cause harm to your electrical system. 

To remove the clamps or terminals, you may need to use vice grips to break them free from the metal. Take your time, and don’t apply too much strain on the clamps, as they can easily snap under the weight of their own weight. Removing the screws is as simple as wiggling them until they’re loose enough to remove. 

Examine clamps and cable splices 

Ascertain if there is excessive corrosion or any damage to clamps or cables and replace them if they are cracked or broken. If the cables or clamps are in bad condition, good clamp-to-terminal contact is worthless. 

Check the cable’s entry point into the clamp for corrosion. The cable might become corroded from the inside out. Cleaning or replacing the cable may be necessary if there is excessive powdery residue in or around this connection. 

Using a screwdriver or wrench, carefully tap the clamps to see if any powder falls out. You should not inhale this powder, as it is effectively crystallized acid. 

Examine battery’s condition 

Cracks, warping, and other damage to the battery housing should be looked for. Keep in mind that current batteries are usually recyclable if you discover any problems with the battery. 

In order to clean the battery terminals, you should first remove the battery from the device. Under these conditions, do your best to keep track of where you are. 

Examine the terminals/clamp connections   

Connecting the clamps and battery terminals should be done in a way that maximizes conductivity. If you see any evidence of damage to the terminals themselves, such as extensive scoring or excessive pitting, you should inspect them (many tiny holes). 

Pitting may appear on the surface when a terminal is corroded, but it’s impossible to tell how far down the corrosion has gone. Consider a new battery or seek expert help if the damage is extensive and you are experiencing other concerns (extreme corrosion, battery frequently running flat, or trouble starting the car while cold). 

You may ask a professional for advice, they may be able to file back the terminals and install new clamps, or they may propose a different approach. 

Neutralize the sulphuric acid 

For dry terminals, sprinkle a tiny bit of baking soda on top of them. The baking soda should be evenly distributed around each one. To prevent the acid from hurting the environment, inflicting burns, or destroying your engine compartment, baking soda is used to neutralize the sulphuric acid (or your paintwork). Avoid cleaning battery connections with a combination of water and baking soda. 

Clean using a soft brush  

Using a gentle brush, gradually apply the water to the baking soda rings, avoiding splattering the mix as much as possible. It is simpler to apply using a soft brush since it holds more water than a rigid one. Using a freshly washed paintbrush is ideal for the job. 

As the baking soda combines with the acid in the corrosive deposits, it will begin to bubble. Make sure to neutralize the acid by letting it bubble for a few seconds. 

Clean using toothbrush 

Next, a somewhat harsher brush, such as an old toothbrush or a terminal cleaning brush, should be used. Avoid pouring the baking soda and water mixture over the terminal posts in case any acid is still active. 

Inside and out, clean the cable clamps as well. Give special attention to the area where the cable connects to the terminals. 

Clean thoroughly 

Rinse the terminals with a little water, or just wipe off the residual substance with a clean towel once it has finished fizzing. 

If you do come into contact with any of these things – don’t touch them. Burns caused by even diluted sulfuric acid are extremely painful. This exothermic process can actually worsen whatever burns you may already have received.  

Apply petroleum jelly  

The battery terminals can be protected from further corrosion by applying petroleum jelly to them. It also makes reconnecting the clamps a lot simpler. 

Re-insert the battery

Remove the negative clamp and replace it with the positive clamp. To avoid stripping them, use a proper-sized spanner. To avoid additional corrosion, make careful to replace the rubber or plastic boot.  

How to prevent car battery corrosion? 

Using a battery maintainer will help keep your battery from going dead during long-term storage. As a result, lead plates transformed into lead sulfate during the discharge cycle are changed back into the lead when the battery is charged. Battery drained too far without recharge results in sulfate crystals building up and corroding the metal contacts. 

Preventing sulfation and extending the life of your battery may both be accomplished by maintaining your car’s electrical system and keeping the terminals free of corrosion. Using a high-quality battery can supply dependable power for a longer period of time than other battery manufacturers since the sealed lead acid, maintenance-free construction reduces the escape of gas and protects the liquid within. This is critical. 

Regardless of whether you use your car year-round or keep it in your garage for months at a time, battery terminal care is essential. When it comes to extending the life of your battery, it is important to keep an eye on the condition of your connections. 

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Read our blogs for information on the best airport parking and hourly parking spots near you and the most affordable insurance for your car.


 

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