How to Clean a Dirty Battery Terminal

Since batteries store electricity to power your vehicle’s engine, they require attention and maintenance to stay fully-functional. If battery terminals–the routes through which electricity flows–become dirty and corroded, they stifle the flow of energy necessary to keep a car moving. To keep your car battery and its terminals free of debris and corrosion, follow these simple steps.

Gather Supplies

If you make sure to have all equipment handy before work begins, you’ll save time and energy. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Safety glasses or goggles
  • Gloves
  • Commercial battery terminal cleaner (or baking soda and hot water)
  • Wire brush
  • Soft cloth
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Clothes you don’t mind getting dirty
  • Work apron (optional)

Take a Close Look

Before you start, put on safety goggles and gloves. You might choose to wear a work apron if you want to keep your clothes cleaner (you could come into contact with corrosive material that can damage clothing). Also, it’s best to complete this task while the car is cool (hasn’t been running for at least 30 minutes).

Perform a close inspection of the battery and surrounding area, looking for cracks, leaks, or damaged cables. If you notice excessive wear, you should replace these parts (or have a licensed technician do it) before moving on to the next steps.

Clean the Battery and Terminals

After locating the car battery (check the owner’s manual if you need help), disconnect it from the area by removing the covers (usually plastic or rubber) that protect connection points–the places where battery cables and terminals meet. Next, remove the clamps from the negative terminal (marked with a minus symbol or black terminal cover) and positive terminal (marked with a plus symbol or red cover).

Read and follow the instructions on the battery terminal cleaner to remove corrosion from the battery. You can also use a small amount of baking soda and hot water to scrub the area using the wire brush. Repeat this step as needed to remove corrosion from the battery, terminals, and clamps. When finished, dry each area with a soft cloth.

Before reattaching clamps (do the positive terminal before moving on the negative), apply a bit of petroleum jelly to them. This step will inhibit future corrosion. Afterward, replace covers and close the hood.

Always use extreme precaution when dealing with a car battery. In newer models, batteries can be connected to an additional power source (like a jump box), so make sure to check the owner’s manual before completing any work on your vehicle.

And remember, for professional guidance or service, Meadows Automotive in Waterford is only a phone call away. Call us today to schedule an appointment today!

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