Tips

How Do I Clean My Car’s Battery Terminals?

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Your car may not start if the battery terminals are corroded. The corrosion that can build up on the battery terminals can block the electrical charge the battery generates. Oftentimes, corroded battery terminals are a sign of a deeper problem. This being said, you can clean the battery terminals to see if that restores battery power and check to see if you have a battery acid leak should the terminals corrode again. Mike’s Auto Service & Repair explains how to clean your car battery terminals below.

What You’ll Need

First, gather the materials that you’ll need. To clean your battery terminals, you need

  • A clean rag
  • An old toothbrush
  • Baking soda
  • Dish gloves
  • Distilled water
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Spray bottle

These supplies will help you clean your battery terminals and protect them.

Mix the Battery Cleaner

A recipe for homemade battery terminal cleaner is very simple. Just take 1 tablespoon of baking soda and mix it with 1 cup of distilled water. Stir the two ingredients together until the water goes clear. Make sure to re-stir when you’re ready to use it, as well.

Remove the Battery Cables

With your vehicle turned off and the parking brake set, pop the hood. Remove the battery cables from the terminals in this order: negative first and then positive. It’s important that you remove the cables in this order to prevent electrical shock. With the cables off, inspect your vehicle’s battery. Check the case for anything unusual such as bloating, cracks, or swelling. If you see any of this, it’s time for a new battery. Cleaning the terminals will not help.

Clean the Battery Terminals

If the battery case looks fine, stir your homemade terminal cleaner and dip your toothbrush in it to get the head of the toothbrush good and wet. Now, it’s time to put a little elbow grease into cleaning the terminals. Scrub the terminals with the soft bristles of the toothbrush and use as much baking soda and water that you need to remove all of the corrosion. Depending on how corroded your battery terminals are, this might be an easy job or you may need to really scrub away at the buildup.

Rinse and Lubricate

Once the battery terminals are clean, pour distilled water into a clean and empty spray bottle and spritz the terminals to rinse them off. Make sure all of the cleaning solution and corrosion is rinsed away and you are left with sparkling clean battery terminals. Take a clean, soft, lint-free rag and dry the battery terminals thoroughly once you have rinsed them completely. As soon as the terminals are dry, rub a small amount of petroleum jelly on each one before reconnecting the battery cables.

Reattach the Battery Cables

Finally, reattach the battery cables in the opposite direction you removed them. Attach the positive battery cable first, and then reattach the negative battery cable. Start your car up to see if cleaning the terminals solved any starting or performance issues. If it did not, your battery might be dead and you may need to replace it. We can do that here at Mike’s Auto Service & Repair in West Springfield, MA, so give us a call today.

Call Mike's Auto Service & Repair at 413-737-7806 for an appointment today!

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