How to Clean Corroded Car Battery Terminals

How to Clean Corroded Car Battery Terminals

4th Sep 2015

Does your car have trouble starting? This problem could be attributed to corroded battery terminals. When acidic powder and/or rust forms between the battery connectors and your car's terminals, it restricts the flow of electricity. Subsequently, this can make it difficult for your car to start and stay running.

What Does Battery Corrosion Look Like?

Battery corrosion typically looks like solid white-colored powered that's "caked" onto the battery posts and terminals. These are actually deposits of battery acid that have accumulated over time. If your battery has been exposed to moisture, there may also be rust present, which of course looks like copper-colored powdered.

Even if your car cranks and runs just fine, you should still clean the terminals on a regular basis. Allowing acidic powder to form on here may degrade the life of your battery while damaging nearby components. Thankfully, cleaning corroded battery terminals is a quick and easy process that we're going to explain in further detail.

Related Reading: Is it the Battery or the Alternator

Steps to Cleaning Corroded Battery Terminals

First and foremost, you should disconnect your battery from the car's terminals. Remember: always disconnect the negative (-) side first and positive (+) last. This will prevent sparks from occurring, which could otherwise trigger a fire or explosion. When reconnecting your battery, connect the positive first and negative last.

Depending on just how corroded the terminals are, you may have to wiggle and tug to disconnect the battery. Once disconnected, pour a small amount of vinegar over the corroded areas and then sprinkle some baking soda on top. If you recall your academic days as a chemistry student, you might remember that vinegar and baking soda creates a foamy volcano effect. Using a wire scrub brush, scrub the foamy solution across the corrosion until it's removed. The vinegar works to eat through the corrosion, while the baking soda neutralizes any acidic powder that's left behind. It's a two-in-one punch that's particularly effective for cleaning corroded battery terminals.

When you are finished cleaning the corrosion, pour a small amount of water back over the battery terminals to wash away any excess foam. Dry the area up with a clean washcloth and then reconnect the battery (remember: positive first, negative last). Sorry if you were expecting more, but that's all it takes to clean corroded battery terminals!

Think you have a bad battery? Check out the battery testers offered here at JB Tool Sales.

Related Reading: Why Does My Car Battery Keep Dying?