8 Easy Steps to Clean Car Battery Terminals

After using a car battery for many years, it tends to become dirty or show signs of rust or wear. As expected, these issues can result in spills and reduce the lifespan of the unit.

But if you keep the contacts clean, the battery will last longer. Thus, you won’t have to bother about getting a new one. Luckily, you can learn how to clean car battery terminals in your home.

However, you will have to prepare the required materials and follow some essential tips. So are you ready to make your car battery look new? Let’s get started.

How to Clean Car Battery Terminals

Step 1: Check the Battery for Rust and Defects 

Open the hood of the vehicle and locate the battery at the left edge of the engine. Since you want to inspect the unit, please do not take it out from its original spot.

Look over the battery for cracks and leaks. If you can’t find any defects, prepare to remove the grime on the terminals. But if the battery has any physical problems, you should consider visiting an auto store for a new unit. Now let’s show you how to clean car terminals in your home.

Look out for rust on the cables and the battery itself. You could start by checking the terminal interface at the top of the battery for whitish deposits. To find these components, check the plastic covers on the unit.

Do the battery cable and clamp show traces of rust? If yes, try cleaning out the corrosion with a few steps. But if you find a thick buildup, you might have to swap them for a fresh pair at the nearest auto store.

Step 2: Take Out the Clamps from the Battery

At this stage, you must free the battery from the engine. Bring out a wrench from the toolbox, unscrew, and remove the clamps on the battery. Start from the negative clamp before moving to the positive one.

If the clamp feels stuck, pry it free with a pair of pliers. However, do not touch the tool with any metal object (especially when working) as this can damage the battery of the car.

Step 3: Prepare a Baking Soda Solution

Add about 2 – 3 tablespoons of baking soda to a small bowl that contains a single tablespoon of distilled water. Then stir the contents until you get a container filled with a thick paste. Continue stirring until the powder dissolves completely in the liquid.

If you want to learn how to clean car terminals, baking soda comes as a suitable option. After all, it has properties that can tackle the rust produced by the battery acid.

Step 4: Add the Cleaning Paste to the Car Battery

Insert a damp cloth or use a toothbrush into the baking soda mixture. Then, apply the substance to grimy or rusty parts of the car battery

As you apply the paste, it will react with the corrosive deposits and produce bubbles. For a perfect job, leave the paste on the battery for at least 10 minutes.

Gently apply the paste on the unit. Even if it’s harmless, a careless spill can affect the engine of the vehicle.

Step 5: Tackle Corrosive Deposits on the Car Battery

Notice any corrosive buildup on the battery? Scrape it off with the sharp end of a butter knife.

During the process, hold the blade at a 45° angle to the top of the battery, push downward to take out the rusty pieces. Then, wipe the leftover with steel wool or wire brush.

It is advisable when learning how to clean car terminals to cover your hands with a pair of vinyl gloves. By taking this precaution, you will protect your hands from dangerous chemicals. Besides that, safety wear prevents any damage to your skin, especially from scrubbing with steel wool.

Step 6: Flush the Scrubbed Battery with Water

If the baking soda paste stops producing bubbles, this means that the battery does not have any acid buildup. At this point, you can rinse out the mess on the unit. Begin by tossing 2 cups of distilled water on both terminals of the battery.

Avoid rinsing the paste into the vents of the battery. If the mixture flows into this space, the baking soda will react with the battery acid and decrease the lifespan of the cell.

Thoroughly dry every part of the battery by wiping a dry rag on it. To remove all traces of moisture, wipe the unit with the rag for a minimum of 2 times. However, use a clean piece of cloth and avoid fabrics that contain oil or grease.

Step 7: Protect the Terminals with Petroleum Jelly

Open a jar of petroleum jelly and insert two fingers into it. Next, rub a small amount of petroleum jelly on both terminals of the battery. Remember to wear your gloves for this task.

The jelly comes as ideal protection against future rusty deposits. If you can’t find petroleum jelly in your cabinets, consider getting one from a local store.

Step 8: Fix Both Clamps on the Battery of the Car

Round up the cleaning by connecting the clamps (that you previously removed) to the battery. First, place the positive clamp on the terminal.

Afterward, move to the other clamp and fix it to the negative connection point. Remember to tighten this spot as well to prevent possible problems.

Helpful Tips for Cleaning Your Car Battery Terminal 

Stuck with a large deposit of rust? Apply the baking soda paste and wait for a couple of minutes. Within this period, the mixture will weaken the grime on the terminals, which ensures easy cleaning.

Some people know how to clean battery terminals with coke. Since this beverage contains carbonated water and acts like the baking soda paste, it also works great. As a result, you could swap the thick mixture for this drink.

Luckily, you can find any of these cleaning agents in your homes. So instead of spending hours looking for a battery terminal cleaner spray, use any of the choices mentioned above.

If you want your battery to work correctly and last longer, experts suggest frequent inspections. Here, you will have to look out for signs of rust and other defects.

Even if car battery companies promise between 2.5 to 5 years of service, the average life span depends on several factors, such as the way you use the vehicle and the surrounding weather conditions.

Wrap Up

Like most items, batteries become messy, especially after years of use. If left alone, the grime could damage the unit, which means extra cash for replacements. However, you can avoid this problem by cleaning out the terminals of the car battery.

  • Start by checking for dirt and cracks on the unit.
  • Remove the battery, prepare a cleaning agent with baking soda, and distilled water.
  • Then apply the paste (with gloved) to the connection points, scrub and flush with water. Try to dry thoroughly and add some petroleum jelly.

You can also use the guide to know how to clean the car battery terminals wd40 model. Although the process on how to clean car battery terminals with vinegar might be quite different, you can our stated guide to make your car battery last longer.

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