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To protect the life of your vehicle’s batteries, it is critical to properly clean corrosion from them. Unfortunately, corroded battery terminals can cause a tremendous amount of trouble – hindering full charging capabilities and draining energy levels, as well as causing detrimental damage to the alternator.
Fortunately, there are easy solutions that anyone with basic automotive know-how can use to clean off corrosion from their vehicle’s battery. In this blog post, we will discuss how to effectively identify, remove, and protect against future build up of corrosive materials on your vehicle’s car batteries. Keep reading for all the information you need!
What Is Battery Corrosion?
Battery corrosion is a buildup of acidic residue caused by the combination of metal and sulfuric acid electrolyte. It often appears as a powdery, white-greenish, blue, or teal residue on the terminals or around the battery clamps. This corrosive material may also be present on other parts of the battery including posts, connectors, and cables. If left unchecked, corrosion can hinder full charging capabilities and drain energy from your car’s batteries.
Is Battery Corrosion Dangerous? what problem will happen?
Battery corrosion can be a major concern for any car owner. Battery corrosion is extremely caustic and can even burn or irritate the skin or eyes if exposed to it. If the corrosion isn’t taken care of swiftly, it could lead to more costly repair issues down the line.
So, always remember to be cautious when dealing with car batteries as they contain sulfuric acid. Make sure you’re in a well-ventilated space before working on them and keep any metal items away from the battery to prevent a short circuit. And never try to charge a damaged battery.
To stay safe after handling a car battery, it is imperative to adhere to the following safety tips:
- Wear protective rubber gloves and eyewear
- Dispose of acid residue safely
- Clean any spills with a baking soda
- Avoid direct contact with car batteries.
What should you do if battery acid comes into contact with your skin or eyes?
To minimize damage in the event of an accident, remember to flush the area with clean, lukewarm water for at least 30 minutes. Though irritation may remain after flushing, medical treatment should be sought regardless.
If battery acid happens to get in your eyes, it is even more crucial that you take prompt action and seek treatments from a professional.
How to Identify Battery Corrosion
Battery corrosion is relatively easy to identify, as it appears as a powdery, white-greenish or blue/teal residue on the terminals or around the battery clamps. Additionally, corrosion often affects other parts of the battery such as posts, connectors and cables.
Note: Turn off your vehicle and let it cool for at least 30 minutes before approaching the battery!
What Causes Battery Corrosion?
Battery corrosion can be caused by a couple of different things:
Car batteries often have a 5-year lifespan. If yours is nearing the end of its life, it’s normal to start to see corrosion.
When charging your battery beyond its capacity, the temperature may become too high and result in overheating of the battery, leading to electrolyte expansion that can cause fluid leakage from vents. Furthermore, this could eventually lead to corrosion of your device’s components.
Damage to the battery.
If a battery is cracked or damaged in any way, it can cause the fluid to leak and create an electrolyte buildup on the terminals. This is one surefire way for battery corrosion to happen
Overfilling your battery.
Some batteries need to be refilled with water to operate correctly. If you overfill a battery, the excess water comes out through the battery’s vents. If water comes in contact with the battery terminals, corrosion can form.
If your battery is leaking sulfuric acid and it comes into contact with copper clamps, a chemical reaction will take place. The resulting copper sulfate causes corrosion.
If you are unsure whether or not your vehicle is suffering from any of these problems, take it to a mechanic for an inspection. They’ll be able to identify and repair any issues before they become critical.
Related: How to fix a dead car battery?
What Supplies Do You Need to Clean Car Battery Corrosion?
To properly clean your battery, gather a few essential items:
- Stainless steel wire brush
- Baking soda or specialized cleaning agent
- Microfiber cloth for polishing
- Pliers or a wrench to loosen connections
- Protective gloves
How to clean corroded battery terminals?
Once you have all the necessary supplies, follow these steps to clean your car battery corrosion:
Step 1: Disconnect the Battery
Start by disconnecting the negative cable, it’s usually marked with a negative sign or NEG. Then remove the positive or red cable, you may need to use pliers or a wrench depending on how tight they are.
Once the cables are disconnected, take a look at them and check for any signs of wear or peeling insulation. If there is damage then it might be time to get new ones.
Step 2: Scrub Corrosion Away
Use the stainless steel wire brush to scrub away any residue on the connectors or terminals of your battery. It’s important to be gentle yet firm when doing this as not to cause further damage.
Step 3: Neutralize With Baking Soda/Cleaning Agent
All you need are two common household items: baking soda and water or a battery cleaning spray.
Simply apply the paste to the terminals and wipe away any dirt or grime. If the corrosion is more severe, use a wire brush to gently scrub it away. Make sure to rinse off the remaining residue with water afterwards for best results!
Step 4: Dry the battery
Make sure you dry the battery and its terminals and cables with a microfiber cloth. This is an important step to prevent any water from remaining in your battery, as that can be detrimental to its performance over time.
Step 5: Reattach Connections
Reattach both cables after being careful not to cross them or let them touch each other during the process. Start by putting the negative cable back into place first, followed by the positive one after it has been fastened securely to your terminals or connectors.
Step 6: Apply preventive measures
Once you’ve completed the cleaning process, it’s important to take preventive measures to slow down corrosion in the future.
How Can You Prevent Battery Corrosion?
There are several ways to prevent further corrosion:
Use petroleum jelly or battery grease.
Preventing battery corrosion is essential for ensuring the long-term reliability of your vehicle. An easy way to do this is by using petroleum jelly or battery grease on the terminals. First, make sure to remove the battery cables before applying either one. Battery grease based on silicone will prove particularly useful in a hot engine since it’s more resistant than petroleum jelly.
Make sure your battery is properly charged.
To avoid corrosion and keep your battery working its best, be sure that you are keeping it at the right charging levels. This means not over or undercharging the battery, and if you find yourself having trouble maintaining those levels then it may be time to take it in to a mechanic.
Protect battery with treatments.
If you’re looking for a reliable way to prevent battery corrosion, investing in a protective treatment is definitely the way to go. Not only are there highly rated commercial brush-on treatments and sprays available at most auto parts stores.
Clean battery with damp cloth.
Keep the top of your car’s battery clean and void of dirt, debris and dust particles by wiping it down regularly with a damp cloth.
FAQs about How To Clean Corroded Battery Terminals
Can you clean corroded battery terminals without disconnecting?
No, it is not recommended to clean corroded battery terminals without disconnecting the cables. This could be very dangerous as there might be a buildup of electricity which can cause an explosion or fire.
Always make sure you disconnect both negative and positive cables before doing any maintenance on your car battery.
What should you never use to clean a battery terminal?
It is not recommended to use any chemical cleaners, such as bleach, ammonia or acetone as these can cause damage to the battery terminals. It is best to use baking soda and water or a specially-designed battery cleaning spray.
Will corrosion drain car battery?
Yes, corrosion can drain a car battery as it will reduce the amount of power that can pass through it. It is important to clean your battery regularly and take preventive measures to slow down future corrosion.
What kills corrosion on battery terminals?
To remove corrosion, use baking soda and water or a specially-designed battery cleaning spray. Be sure to rinse off residue with water afterwards for best results!
Can a corroded battery terminal still work?
The short answer is yes, but the long-term effects of doing so can be devastating on your vehicle. Corrosion can impede current travelling past the terminals, meaning that while you may be able to get it started initially, you will experience declining power and ultimately find yourself unable to start your car requiring a jump start.
I’m Timothy Ballard, owner of a used car dealership in Springfield. I love just about everything automotive, but I have a special place in my heart for trucks. I’m an ASE Certified Master Technician, so I know my way around a car. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling with my family and hiking new trails.