How to Clean Car Battery Terminals
How to Paint a Car
One of the most common causes of false starts and poor performance in many automobiles is when car battery terminals get dirty or corroded. Cleaning your car battery terminals is a task you can do yourself, and is an important part of routine car maintenance.
Causes of Dirty or Corroded Terminals
Like many parts of your car, your battery terminals cannot stay new for long. Car battery terminals get dirty or corroded for many reasons:
Exhaust particles build up all over your engine bay. Soot and carbon particles eventually make their way into the terminals, causing dirt to build up inside the threads and crevices.
Battery acid vapors leak out of your battery as part of its normal operation. Over time, the vapors leaked from the battery case can build up as corrosive material on the terminals. Depending on how much you use your car, the corrosion may take as long as a year or as short as a couple of months.
Heat can cause the carbon and corrosive particles to literally bake into the terminals, making them very difficult to remove.
Tools for Cleaning Car Battery Terminals
Cleaning battery terminals is a simple task which requires a few simple tools:
Toothpaste (the white paste-type toothpaste, not a gel-type toothpaste)
A stiff kitchen sponge
Protective equipment like safety glasses and rubber gloves
Steps for Cleaning Car Battery Terminals
Cleaning battery terminals is simple, but it requires a lot of effort and elbow grease, particularly for older cars. Before you clean battery terminals, make sure you’re wearing protective equipment like gloves and safety goggles. Corrosive material can get into your eyes, or irritate your skin.
Turn off the car engine and make sure the engine bay is cool.
Disconnect the battery cables from terminals very carefully using a pair of long-nosed pliers. Never disconnect the battery cables with your hand.
Inspect the cables for any signs of wear and tear. You may need to replace the cables if they look particularly worn or destroyed. In a pinch, you can wrap up the torn insulation with electrical tape.
With a steel brush and toothpaste, brush off the corroded material found on the battery terminals. The corrosion is the green, flaky stuff that covers the battery terminal. Toothpaste helps dissolve and loosen the corroded material, and restores the conductive surface of the terminals.
Scrub off the remaining corroded particles with steel wool. Make sure not to work the steel wool too hard on the terminals, because you may risk chipping the metal from the terminal.
Clean the terminals with warm water and a stiff kitchen sponge. Let the terminals dry completely before re-connecting the terminals and cables.
Why You Should Clean Dirty or Corroded Battery Terminals
A bit of corrosion and dirt on your battery terminals usually do no harm. Many drivers and car owners don’t pay attention to their car battery terminals, and only pay attention to them when they’re worn to stubs. Routine maintenance of battery terminals is much cheaper than to replace batteries and battery cables.
Here are some reasons why you should clean your battery terminals:
Maintenance. Your car battery powers many of your car’s electrical components. When your battery cables and terminals are corroded, the battery cannot transmit the necessary power to your car’s electrical components.
Performance. A dirty battery terminal that can still conduct electricity has poor conductivity. To ensure maximum performance, you need to clean your battery terminals every three months.
Safety. Short-circuited batteries can lead to stalls and even fires inside your engine bay. Cleaning your battery terminals is very important to keep your car and your passengers safe.
Cleaning battery terminals takes a lot of effort, but it’s very important if you want your car performing at its peak. With these simple steps, you never have to pay big money to replace your battery and terminals again.