How to Clean Battery Terminals

Aug 15, 2019 - 3 minute read

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Are you curious how cleaning your battery can significantly improve the overall health of your vehicle? When your battery terminal becomes corroded, as they sometimes do, a host of unpleasant things can happen, including damage to the vehicle chassis, electrical wiring, air conditioner lines, and failure of your vehicle to start.

Apple Ford wants you to understand the process of adequately cleaning battery terminals so that you can avoid these situations. Battery terminal corrosion is quite easy to identify; it’s the white, green, or bluish discoloration on the car battery posts, battery terminals, or battery cables. Battery corrosion is a poor conductor of electricity, and as a result, the increased resistance can lead to your car not starting.

There are 7 simple steps to cleaning battery terminals that you can easily do yourself:

Step 1: Remove Battery Cables 

Begin by removing the battery cables from the battery. Always start with the negative battery cable first, which is typically marked by the negative sign (-), its abbreviation (NEG), and black in color. Next remove the positive battery cable, which is typically marked by the positive sign (+), its abbreviation (POS), and red in color.

Step 2: Inspect Battery Cables 

Inspect the battery cables for excessive wear or battery corrosion. Look for dried, cracked, and peeling insulation. Insulation is the plastic or rubber cover on the cable. Frayed battery cables are a frequent culprit for a vehicle not starting.

Replace the battery cable(s) if any damage is present. Your local Ford dealership in Maryland is happy to assist you with battery cable replacement.

Step 3: Remove And Neutralize Any Visible Battery Corrosion 

Spray a battery cleaning agent anywhere that you see battery corrosion on both the battery itself as well as battery cables.

It is highly recommended to use a commercial-grade battery cleaner rather than a home remedy, as those are not as effective and may even result in additional damage to the car battery. In particular, you should never use cola to remove battery corrosion.

This contains synthetic sugars and phosphoric acid, which are likely to cause further damage to your engine and the surrounding components. Stick with a reputable battery cleaner, which your local Ford dealership can recommend.

Step 4: Dry And Polish Battery Posts And Battery Terminals 

Once you have removed any corrosion from the battery, posts, and terminals, make sure you dry them with a microfiber cleaning cloth. Any additional residue should be removed with a battery terminal brush.

Step 5: Install Battery Terminal Protectors 

Once your car battery has been cleaned and is free from corrosion, install battery terminal protectors (also known as anti-corrosion pads) on each battery post.

The best option is to use protectors that are saturated in a battery corrosion preventative compound. 

Apple Ford will gladly recommend a product that will best suit your needs.

Step 6: Reconnect Battery Cables 

Finally, you must reconnect the battery cables by simply following the instructions from Step 1 in reverse order. In other words, reconnect the positive battery cable first and the negative battery cable last.

Step 7: Apply Battery Corrosion Preventative 

To prolong the life of your car battery and extend the time between cleaning battery terminals, use a battery corrosion preventative spray or brush-on compound. Put a generous coating on the battery posts, the battery, and the battery terminals.

Don't get stranded; understand the health of your car battery and stop by Apple Ford for a battery test!

Our technicians will let you know just how much “life” is left in your battery, will take care of battery cleaning for you if necessary, and will, of course, replace your car battery if needed!

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