How To Clean Your Car’s Battery Terminal Ends

How To Clean Your Car’s Battery Terminal Ends

Wet cell type batteries have a tendency to build up corrosion on the battery terminals and cable ends that rob a battery from cranking power to start the engine.. There is a chemical reaction created by the electric fuel cell concentrate around the connections of the battery cable ends. Eventually the mixture of the gases and oxygen will create build up which will interrupt the current flow.

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Not cleaning off the built up corrosion will drain the battery, making it unable to start your car’s engine. Maintaining your battery regularly will prolong the life of your battery and it will perform for you when you need it. 

I am often asked how you should clean your battery terminal ends. Here is the step by step process that I use to perform this task.

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Negative lead, black terminal

Begin by working on the negative terminal lead first. This is very important. If you remove the red or positive terminal lead first, you leave yourself open for accidental shorts that can explode a worn battery, or create an electrical fire within the wiring harness. Always work from negative, (black), to positive, (red), when removing the cables from the battery, and then in reverse when reinstalling, to prevent creating a dangerous work environment.

https://teresasgarage.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Battery-PPE.gifCAUTION: Always wear Personal Protective Equipment while working on or around automotive batteries.

Tools You Will Need:

 Corroded battery cables

 Correct size wrench or Crescent wrench

 Screwdriver

 Baking Soda

 Toothbrush

 Cloth/rag

 Warm water

 Battery Terminal cleaning brush tool

 Personal Protective Equipment: Safety glasses, safety gloves, and work clothing or apron

 Anti-corrosion terminal pads

Instructions
1
Mix 2 tbsp. of baking soda in 8 ounces of water.
2
Use a spoon to agitate the fluid until the baking soda is completely dissolved.
3
Put 2 tbsp. of baking soda in a bowl. Take a toothbrush and moisten it in the water and baking soda solution. Then set it into the bowl of dry baking soda. Place it off to the side.
4
Use a combination of rinse and scrub techniques to remove all the corrosive dirt and debris.

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terminal brush tool

5
Loosen both battery cable clamps from the power supply posts.
6
Remove the cable ends from the battery once the clamps have been loosened enough to pull the wires free from the battery posts. 
Remove the black, negative cable and then the red, positive cable. The battery cable clamps will need to be kept from coming in contact with the battery posts after they are disconnected and while cleaning the battery cables.
7
First tie the black, negative battery cable back from the battery using a tie wrap so the end of the cable can be cleaned away from the battery. Do the same for the red, positive cable once it has been removed.
8
Follow the black, negative battery cable back to its secured, ground anchor. Both cables can be vulnerable to corrosive materials and power robbing buildup. Find the black, negative battery cable anchor location and clean the cable end there first.
9
While secured in position, coat the ground anchor where the negative battery cable ends at the engine with the baking soda and water solution. Let stand for three to five minutes.
10
Brush the cable end and fastener on the engine with a toothbrush loaded with a dry baking soda. Let it stand for thirty seconds and pour more of the mixture solution of baking soda and water over this junction. Wipe dry and scrub with a rag after cleaning.https://teresasgarage.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/battery-baking-soda.jpg
11
Submerge both cable ends, with clamps, into the solution of baking soda and water for up to five minutes. This cleaning should eliminate any corrosive buildup on the outer surfaces of the cable, cable clamps, and battery cable protective coating.

12
Use the saturated baking soda and water solution to break up any buildup of corrosive material. Then use a more concentrated solution with a toothbrush to remove the material in grooves and cable strands that are visible.
13
Use the dry baking soda and toothbrush to get more of the reactive material inside the grooves and tight corners of the cable ends and clamps.
14
Scrub the inside and outside of the cable clamps and cable ends that show metal or cable strands by using your battery terminal brush tool. Pour the solution over the end after scrubbing, then rinse with pure water, and wipe dry with a rag. Install your terminal protecting pads on the terminals.

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batt. terminal pads

15
Fasten and secure both cables back to the battery, replacing the red, positive battery cable first, and then the negative cable.

16
Cover the clamps with post protectors to reduce the amount of water that can reach these connections. The presence of oxygen and water increase the amount of corrosive material an old battery will produce and can be managed with the simple protective measures listed here.
17

Cover the clamps with post protectors to reduce the amount of water that can reach these connections. The presence  of oxygen and water increase the amount of corrosive material an old battery will produce and can be managed with the simple protective measures listed here.
18
Replace the outer battery box panel (may vary on all vehicles) and
 close the vehicle’s hood. 

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