Cleaning Car Battery Terminals
Keeping your car battery terminals clean and free from buildups of corrosion is required to ensure optimum transfer of electrons from the posts to the terminals and then on to the cables and the rest of the car. A car's 12-volt system, by its nature of charge and discharge cycles, is prone to corrosive buildup. This buildup looks like a greenish-greyish-white fuzz on and around the battery terminals and posts. With the right knowledge and tools, removal of this corrosive buildup is easy.
Tools and Materials Needed:
- Wrench - Usually ½ inch
- Old used toothbrush
- Old used cup
- 100 grit sandpaper - Good
- Emory cloth - Better
- Battery cleaning brush - Best
Step 1. Remove Surface Corrosion
Rinse the battery with a solution of water and baking soda. Scrub thoroughly around the bottoms of the posts. Wipe clean with a towel or rag. Make sure you remove the corrosion completely.
Step 2. Remove Terminals
Loosen the nut clamping the terminal to the post and pull the terminal off the post with a rotating motion. Do this for both sides.
Step 3. Clean Inside of Terminals
If you're using Emory cloth or sandpaper, roll it around a pen or similar object in a clockwise direction. Insert the pen into the terminal end and continue the clockwise rotation. Do this until the inside of the terminal is a uniform shininess all the way around. If you're using the battery brush, the two battery posts are different sizes. Insert the proper size brush into the terminal end and rotate back and forth for about a minute, or until a uniform shininess is achieved.
Step 4. Clean Battery Posts
If you're using Emory cloth or sandpaper, wrap it around the two terminals individually and twist it on the terminals back and forth. If you're using the battery brush, choose the right size, push the cleaner over the post and rotate it back and forth for about 30 seconds to a minute. Again, no matter what you use for the cleaning, you want to make sure the terminals are uniformly shiny.
Step 5. Wipe Down Exterior of Battery
Slowly pour the remainder of the baking soda and water solution over the battery top and wipe it down with a rag. Dry the battery with another rag. This will help lengthen the time between required cleanings.
Step 6. Reconnect Battery
Start with the positive cable and terminal and reconnect the battery, making sure the terminals are tight enough to prevent them from moving when they are tested by trying to twist them.
Emergency Battery Cleaning away from Home
Keep an emergency set of tools in your trunk. If corrosion buildup is suspected of causing a dead battery on the road, loosen the terminal ends and pour Coca-Cola over the battery from center out one way then the other. Allow to soak for a couple of minutes. Rinse with water and wash off. The acids in the Coke will, because of the higher pH, neutralize the acids in the corrosion buildup.