How to clean battery terminals in 7 easy steps

How to clean battery terminals in 7 easy steps
Sulfation in a battery is a normal and natural process. Learn how to clean your battery terminals in 7 easy steps to prevent sulfation.

How To Clean Battery Terminals In 7 Easy Steps

The battery is one of the most important elements for the correct operation of your vehicle. With it we start the engine, in addition to running any electrical element when the alternator is not in operation. For this reason it is usually one of the parts most prone to failures.

Have you ever opened the hood of your truck and discovered that the battery is covered with dirt? This is usually sulfation formed by acid condensation. To prevent sulfation, it is necessary to clean the battery terminals. Find out with RoadPro how to clean battery terminals in 7 easy steps and extend their life.

What Is Battery Sulfation?

Sulfation in a lead-acid battery is a natural process that occurs during discharge and charging. It consists of the formation of a solid compound called lead sulfate.

Sulfate ions from the electrolyte solution combine with the lead plates of the battery, forming lead sulfate crystals. These crystals can harden and accumulate on the plates.

Excessive accumulation of lead sulfate has consequences for the vehicle's battery. These include loss of capacity, decreased voltage and increased internal resistance, which eventually renders the battery inoperative.

To prevent excessive sulfation, it is important to keep the battery charged and perform a battery terminal cleaning periodically.

How To Clean Battery Terminals In 7 Easy Steps?

Examine the cables and clamps for wear and corrosion. If sulfation is occurring, it is necessary to clean the battery terminals to prevent corrosion from spreading and damaging other components. This is seen as white ash accumulated around one or both terminals.

By cleaning the battery terminal you will not only increase the battery life, but also save money by avoiding emergency situations. On the other hand, it is possible to use a basic chemical solution to clean the sulfated battery. An inexpensive and simple cleaning trick is to counteract the battery acid with baking soda.

Caution is necessary when performing this procedure, as the battery components are harmful to health. Keep in mind that you will have direct contact with corrosive agents, so it is necessary to use gloves for this procedure. We also recommend using goggles and a face mask.

Once protected, follow the steps below:

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  • Disconnect Clamps

The first step in a vehicle's battery terminal cleaning is to remove them. To do this you must disconnect the negative and positive battery clamps. You will need a wrench to loosen the clamp nuts. Once loosened,  remove the negative side first and then the positive side.

Does the nut resist coming off? Then take a flat screwdriver, place it in the space under the bolt and carefully lift the terminal. While performing the procedure be careful not to touch any metal object at the same time, nor the positive cable. This way you will avoid shorting the battery.

  • Prepare the mixture of baking soda and water

To prepare the cleaning solution you only need water and baking soda. Being alkaline, baking soda is able to neutralize the corrosion of spilled battery acid. This not only makes it easier to clean the corrosion, but also makes it safer.

Pour into a small bowl 4 tablespoons of baking soda and no more than half a glass of distilled water. Mix the ingredients until all the baking soda lumps dissolve in the water. From the moment it makes contact, the baking soda will begin to sizzle and neutralize the acid.

  • Apply Mixing To Battery Terminals

Apply the baking soda mixture to the terminals. Also clean the battery posts with the mixture. Use a stiff bristle brush for this purpose. If a brush is not available, use an old cloth. Scrub the brush on the dirty and corroded parts of the vehicle battery.

When applying the solution, bubbles and foam will start to appear due to the reaction with the corrosion. Let the baking soda act for a period of 5 to 10 minutes to loosen the corrosion.

Be careful when applying the solution. Although baking soda is safe, it is necessary to avoid getting it on other components of the vehicle.

  • Scrapes Sulfate Accumulation

    If the terminals have hard corrosion clusters, use the sharp edge of a butter knife to scrape them off. Carefully position the knife blade at a 45-degree angle and press down across the surface of the battery. This will split the corrosion pieces.When you have removed the larger clusters, scrub with a wire brush or steel wool until the remaining corrosion is gone. Continue to do this on the battery posts until they are shiny.

    Be careful not to push the baking soda into the vent slots of the battery. This could neutralize the battery acid and shorten the life of the battery.

    • Wipe Dry With A Clean Cloth

    Once the battery terminal cleaning is complete, wipe the terminals dry with a clean, dry cloth. Be sure to thoroughly dry the entire battery before reconnecting it to the vehicle. Do the procedure on both the terminals and the rest of the battery 2 or 3 times so that they are completely clean.

    Make sure the cloth you use is free of grease or oil. Avoid at all costs the use of paper towels for this step. It will crumble and leave small pieces stuck to the battery terminals.

    • Apply Lubricant On Terminals

    Spread lubricating grease on clean terminals to prevent them from sulfating. If lubricating grease is not available, use hydrophobic petroleum jelly. This will perform the same function.

    Either petroleum jelly or lubricating grease, add a thin layer over both terminals. Be sure to wear gloves while doing so. Applying petroleum jelly to clean terminals will prevent corrosion from re-forming.

    • Reconnect Clamps

    Once the battery terminals have been lubricated and cleaned, reconnect the clamps that were removed. Secure the battery in place and restore the electrical connections. To connect, the procedure is done in reverse of disconnecting.

    That is, connect the positive clamp first and tighten the corresponding screw. Then connect the negative clamp to the battery terminal. Use a wrench or pliers to tighten both clamps.

    Contact us now!

    If you need experts, RoadPro is your best choice for new or used battery repair and parts. We are located in Atlanta and cover up to 100 miles around the city.Contact us at 470-750-2555 or Our professionals provide specialized attention and free quotes. We offer assistance 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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