How to clean car battery corrosion

If you are experiencing issues while trying to start your car chances are that your battery is to blame. As such, you should locate the battery inside your car and check if there are any flaky white or blue-ish substances on top of the battery terminals.

If so, you are looking at a corroded battery that needs cleaning in order to function properly. Freeing the battery from corrosion is a fairly simple task. All you need to do is disconnect the battery, apply the proper cleaning solution, scrub the battery, rinse and dry and apply corrosion prevention substance to proactively solve these issues in the future.

The tools needed for this job are a wrench for disconnecting the battery, baking soda, battery cleaner, a brush, cool water, a microfiber cloth for drying the battery, or even an air compressor. You should also invest in a high-quality corrosion prevention substance such as petroleum jelly, terminal protection spray, or anti-rust pads.

Make sure to park your car in an environment shielded from the outside elements away from traffic. This job should take you less than an hour if you follow all the steps correctly. As such, be sure to read this article to find out how to do it.

Step 1. – Turn off your car and park it in a safe environment

The most important thing you need to do while preparing to clean the battery from corrosion is to turn the car off, put it in park and make sure to engage the parking brake. Whenever you deal with car electronics you need to make sure that the car is turned off and not going anywhere.

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As such, also be sure to park the car in a safe environment such as a garage because you don’t want to disable vital car components outside if there are any chances of rain, snow or extreme temperatures, or even traffic.

Step 2. – Disconnect all the cables

Besides having to turn the car off, you also need to disconnect the battery prior to working on the car because you don’t want to cause any short circuits which can be deadly both to you and your car. If the current surges without control, it can cause lots of damages and even set the car on fire.

You need to isolate the battery completely which means that you have to take your wrench and disconnect all the cables from both battery terminals, remove them from the battery, and place them in a safe and dry environment.

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Step 3. – Inspect the cables first

Corrosion is known to spread from the affected area towards other metal components which means that it can also damage your cables. Be sure to inspect them when you remove them from the battery to make sure that they are not corroded.

If they are, you can remove the terminal connections and cut the cable a few inches short where there is no corrosion. If this causes your cables to be too short, you will have to invest in new battery cables.

Step 4. – Cleaning the battery

You need to neutralize battery acid while cleaning the battery and the best way to do so is to invest in a safe battery cleaning solution. Spray it on top of the terminals and leave it sitting for a few minutes before you use a brush to remove the corrosion.

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Be sure to repeat this process until the terminals are clean. Now you need to rinse the terminals down with a bit of water and dry them off with microfiber cloths or an air compressor if you have access to one. If you don’t have any battery cleaning solutions, you can mix baking soda with water and make a DIY battery cleaning mixture.

Step 5. – Use sandpaper to remove stubborn rust and connect the battery

In order to clean your battery completely, you need to use fine-grade sandpaper to sand down the most stubborn rust spots away from the battery. This will ensure that the battery works in an optimum condition because the terminals work best if they are 100% free of corrosion.

Now it’s time to connect everything back and place the battery into the battery holder. Always make sure to double-check if all the terminals are connected properly and also be sure to use the battery holder because you don’t want your battery to shake while driving.

Step 6. – Prevent future corrosion

To finish it all of you should apply petroleum jelly, terminal protection spray, or anti-rust pads on top of your terminals. You can also use dielectric grease on your terminals but only after you’ve successfully tightened the battery terminal screws.

Either way, by doing so you are eliminating all future rust from your terminals which means that your battery should be rust-free.

FAQ Section

Can I clean my battery while the battery is connected?

No, you can not because you will not be able to clean the corrosion completely. Most of the corrosion is situated under the terminals anyway. Furthermore, by not connecting your battery you are even risking causing a short circuit.

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As mentioned previously, you should always disconnect your battery in a safe environment before you do anything with it.

Can corrosion destroy car batteries?

Indeed it can, so be sure to clean it up the moment you encounter it if you don’t want to invest in a brand new battery right away. However, even if you do simply replace the battery but you still hold on to old terminal cables, you can cause corrosion on the new battery in no time.

As such, it’s best to clean the cables if necessary whenever you clean the battery. On the other hand, it’s a good idea to replace your cables if you want to make sure that the new battery is as safe from corrosion as possible.

How long do car batteries last?

Car batteries can last anywhere between 2 to 6 years depending on the make and model of your car, the way you use the car, and how careful you are with the battery. Replacing a battery is part of regular maintenance so don’t be surprised if you have to invest in a new battery early.

Whenever you do want to replace your battery it’s best to inspect the alternator as well because a healthy alternator is necessary for the battery to last longer than a few hours.

Marko Mikulic

Why do you love writing about cars? I love writing about cars as cars are a huge personal interest of mine. I was raised in a car enthusiast community and ever since I was young, I always wanted to do car-related work.

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