How to clean battery terminals

Clean car battery contacts.

If your car battery is out of commission, you’re going nowhere fast.

This cube-like device is what supplies an electrical current to your starter, which ultimately starts your engine. Although the alternator takes over once the engine is started, you need to have a functional car battery to even get that far.

The average car battery lasts anywhere from three to five years. However, exposure to extreme conditions or poor driving habits can shorten that lifespan. That’s why it’s imperative to ensure that your battery is clean.

Get Your Battery Replaced ASAP

A shop might be able to fix your battery after finding a way to stop the corrosion, but replacing it is the most surefire way to ensure you won’t face this problem again.

A new battery could run you anywhere from $150 to $300, but it’s a necessary component and not one you should procrastinate on replacing.

How to Clean Car Battery Contacts

If you spot corrosion on your car battery, you can remove it yourself. Before we dive into each step, let’s talk safety. A few things to keep in mind as you clean your car battery contacts:

  • Make sure the battery is completely disconnected
  • Never touch metal to metal
  • Take it slow
  • Keep metal tools away

Keeping the above safety tips in mind, carefully follow these steps to clean your battery terminals:

Step 1: Disconnect the battery.

Disconnect the wires from the negative battery post, then disconnect the wires from the positive post. Put the wires aside. DO NOT disconnect the positive post first. If you disconnect the positive post first, you run the risk of electric shock or burns if your tools come in contact with the exposed post and the metal of the vehicle.

Step 2: Mix a cup of water with a teaspoon of baking soda.

Once you have your mixture, either pour it on the corrosion directly or wet an old rag with the mixture and wipe the corroded area with it. The baking soda will dissolve the corrosion quickly and allow you to remove it easily.

Step 3: Clean the terminals and battery cables.

Once corrosion is removed, clean the battery terminals and cables that attach at the battery with a wire brush or toothbrush with the baking soda mixture applied to it.

Step 4: Reconnect the battery.

Wipe any excess moisture off the battery and terminals and reconnect the wires, starting with the positive terminal and then the negative. Tighten the connector locking nut to make sure the battery cable is secured on the terminal. Gently wiggle the battery cable at the terminal to ensure there is a good connection.

Read: Vehicle Battery Maintenance

Ask an Expert at Virginia Tire & Auto

Having trouble with your car battery? Bring your vehicle into Virginia Tire & Auto and we can diagnose and repair the issue. We’ll help you choose the right battery for your vehicle and driving habits. Schedule an appointment at one of our 13 locations today!

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