How to Clean Car Battery Corrosion?

8 Min Read
We show you how to clean the corroded terminals of your battery

Minor damage to the battery can affect the car’s performance and result in costly maintenance.

Battery Corrosion is one of the significant aspects that can cause severe damage to your battery if not looked out on time.

It can also lead to issues, including vehicle air-conditioning and electrical wiring.

Cleaning the battery when it’s subjected to corrosion is the only way of prevention.

The best thing is to clean it yourself without hiring a car mechanic.

You must follow the steps discussed in this ultimate guide to cleaning car battery corrosion.

What is battery corrosion, and how do you know if your car has it?

Luckily the corrosion around the battery is easy to identify.

Corrosion is the white, green, bluish stuff on the battery post, battery terminals, or battery cables.

If your car faces several issues mentioned below, it is a warning sign for you to clean the battery corrosion until it becomes a cause of changing the whole battery with the new one.

  • The car takes time when starting up.
  • The headlights of the car are dim and blinking.
  • The vehicle engine heats up quickly.
  • Car air conditioning is not working correctly.
  • Find a slight change in the performance of the car.

Any of these problems can indicate your car battery has corrosion.

The next step is to look under the hood for proper inspection.

Before popping the car hood, wait 30 minutes to let your engine cool down.

Look at the battery post cables and terminals where corrosion will form.

If you found a white powdery material with a hint of green/blue tones, your battery has corrosion.

You’ll need to look for ways to remove corrosion from the battery. But fear not.

Cleaning corrosion from the battery is simple and can be done by anyone.

Follow these steps and ultimately find your battery free of corrosion.

Steps to clean battery corrosion

Materials that you’ll need:

  • Protective gloves, like dish gloves
  • Wrench
  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Old toothbrush
  • Petroleum jelly

1. Disconnect Battery Cables

The first and foremost step is to disconnect the battery cables.

To do that job, you’ll need a wrench. Make sure to remove the negative cable first before the positive one.

Avoid letting the wrench touch the positive side because it may shock you.

To help you identify which cable is positive and negative, here are some signs to recognize them.

Negative Cable:

  • Its color is BLACK.
  • Its abbreviation is “NEG.”
  • It is marked with a negative (=) sign.

Positive Cable:

  • Its color is RED.
  • Its abbreviation is “POS.”
  • It is marked with a positive (+) sign.

2. Inspect the battery for any damage

A damaged and worn battery would result in severe damage to your car engine.

If you notice any cracks, dents, bulging, and warping in your battery, cleaning it may not do any good for you.

These are indications that your battery needs a replacement.

3. Remove the Corrosion from the battery

Once you have inspected the battery thoroughly for any damage, the next step is to clean the corrosion from it.

There are few methods to complete this step, so we’ll fleetingly delve into them.

Apply the battery detergent to the corroded area of the battery.

To clean the corrosion, your first choice should be the usage of commercial-grade battery detergent.

It is highly effective in cleaning the corrosion and neutralizing the battery’s acid.

If you don’t have access to battery detergent, the second option is to implement household remedies to remove corrosion, such as Coca-Cola and baking soda.

However, while some people believe Coca-Cola is an effective method to remove corrosion, we suggest exercising caution because the beverage contains phosphoric acid and synthetic sugars that can damage your engine.

A simple and effective technique to remove corrosion from the battery is the baking soda method.

All you need is a glass of water and a spoonful of baking soda to prepare the solution.

Stir the solution until everything dissolves appropriately

Then use a toothbrush and scrub the prepared solution on the corroded areas of the battery.

Cover the battery terminal and other corroded areas with baking soda solution.

You’ll notice a bubbling reaction when two ingredients meet each other.

This reaction neutralizes the acidic corrosion and makes it safe to handle.

After that, scrub the corroded area thoroughly until the white substance disappears.

4. Dry and Rinse off the battery

After scrubbing the white substance, pour water to rinse the battery and cable end thoroughly.

Be careful not to pour water on the other engine components to keep your car protected from the damage these could potentially cause.

Then, dry the battery using a towel and any other material.

5. Take Some Corrosion-Preventative Steps

After everything has been done, you need to take crucial steps to prevent the battery from future corrosion.

Apply anti-corrosion pads to both sides of the terminals. These little guys help protect your battery from rusting. Also, apply petroleum jelly to the airport and clamps. This will help from future corrosion.

Safety precautions when cleaning a corroded battery

Regarding safety, nothing is more important than your life and well-being.

Here are some safety precautions you should consider when cleaning a car’s corroded battery.

  • Before starting to clean the corroded battery, make sure to turn off the engine first. This is for your safety.
  • If your car engine runs for a while, wait for it to cool down before opening the hood.
  • Disconnect the battery negative terminal first before the positive one. 
  • Avoid touching the positive terminal with the wrench; it may shock you.
  • Avoid battery contact with your skin. Make sure to wear latex and rubber gloves.
  • Make sure to wear safety glasses to keep your eyes safe.

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