Winter is coming, and it’s coming fast! Do you know what that means? Time to check your car battery. If you know a thing or two about batteries, you know the cold can suck the power from your batteries. That’s why it is so important to keep your battery clean and completely charged.
While the charge is simply a matter of driving frequently and not leaving any lights on, keeping your battery clean is another matter entirely. The dirtier a car battery is, the more muck can meddle with the terminal ports and your ability to start the car or keep it running. If you thought a cold engine was bad, try starting a vehicle with a cold engine and a filthy battery.
If you’re planning on driving your car this winter, it’s important to prep your batteries for them to provide that performance throughout the cold season. While keeping an emergency kit handy in the car may help get you out of trouble, the most important thing to do is to clean your car battery to protect it from further deterioration.
Clean battery terminals can keep your car from dying out at the most inconvenient time. Knowing how to clean your battery terminals and the connection ports thoroughly will help eliminate excess residue and keep your car running as smoothly as ever. Here’s how to clean battery terminals in six easy steps.
How to Clean Battery Corrosion
Locate the Battery
Most car batteries can be found under the hood and on the engine’s left or right side. With some exceptions, such as the Chevrolet Cobalt, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, and the BMW 5 Series – the battery is found in the trunk.
Lift the Terminal Caps
Terminal covers are used to protect most batteries and must be taken off to access the clamps. If your battery is indeed in need of cleaning, an accumulation of residue (white powder) must be cleaned away.
NOTE: Put on a pair of industrial gloves and safety glasses when working with a car battery.
Disconnect the Car Battery
Each clamp attached to the terminals must be detached. To do this, loosen the negative first, then the positive clamp. If excess corrosion is identified, use metal pliers to detach. While operating on the battery, try not to touch other metal objects; otherwise, you may short out the battery.
Pick Your Cleaning Agents
When it comes to cleaning your car battery, you have two cleaning agent options – baking soda or coke. Most people opt for baking soda.
To do this with baking soda, combine two tablespoons of baking soda with an equal amount of water in a container. Stir until the solution turns into a paste, then use a toothbrush to administer the paste to the terminals.
The mix will start to sizzle as it comes into contact with the corrosion. Using a wire brush, remove the leftover residue.
Alternatively, you can use a cola product such as coke to clean the terminals. Simply pour the entire drink right on the battery terminals to get it cleaned. Just clean up the remaining residue with the wire brush, if required.
Rinse and Dry
With the terminals now almost residue-free, you’ll need to finish cleaning off that paste or soda. A spray bottle with water will do; simply rinse each terminal to remove the remaining residue. Then, using a rag, dry each terminal. Finally, spray some battery terminal protector on each connector to prevent further corrosion.
Reconnect the Clamps
Start by connecting the positive clamp first, then the negative clamp. If you notice some leftover residue, take care of it before reconnecting the clamps. Use a wrench to tighten the clamps if necessary. Finally, put the covers back on. You’re all set! The work has been completed, and the battery is clean and ready for another winter season.
Cleaning your car battery should help keep it in top condition until you are ready to change it. The average lifetime of a car battery is around four years; therefore, it should occasionally be tested with a multimeter.
If you own a car, corrosion removal is a must-know task. Keeping your battery clean can add years to its lifespan and help preserve its performance.
You now have the information to get the job done yourself and at home, but if you prefer a professional touch, you can always bring your vehicle into a trusted auto parts store for your battery maintenance requirements. Looking to replace your old battery? Check out all of the batteries available on NAPA Online. Further Reading:
- The Newbie’s Guide to Car Battery Maintenance
- Unmarked Car Battery Terminals
- Everything you need to know about car batteries
- Car Battery Buying Guide