How to Clean and Prevent Battery Terminal Corrosion

We’ve all been there before. You turn the key on your car and…nothing. Not even the tell-tale clicking sound of the starter solenoid.

Your first reaction is to pound the steering wheel and curse the darkness. But it should probably be to grab a battery terminal cleaning brush and pop the hood. In many cases, cleaning the white, flaky deposits from the battery terminals is all you need to restore the flow of electricity and summon your car back to life.

 

What is that flaky powdery stuff, anyway?

A battery is just one big chemical reaction, and the white, scaly deposits on the posts are simply one of the byproducts. A typical car battery is made up of individual cells, with each housing alternating plates of lead and lead coated with lead dioxide submerged in a sulfuric acid solution. This causes a chemical reaction that releases electrons, providing the juice that spins the starter motor, powers the radio and keeps the lights on, among other functions.

Sometimes, especially on cheap batteries, the seal around the post allows sulfate in the battery to escape and react with lead in the post, producing white, flaky deposits. If bad enough, they’ll interfere with the battery connections and prevent the flow of electricity, leaving you stranded.

How to clean battery-terminal deposits

Fortunately, this is one of the easiest areas of your vehicle to maintain. Just make sure to wear safety glasses and protective gloves since sulfuric acid can be dangerous.

Water and baking soda is a tried-and-true cleaning method. Mix them to create a concoction the consistency of pancake batter and smear it on the terminals. The mixture will slowly eat away the deposits. Although it works, it’s a mess. I remember my dad performing this trick on my sister’s Ford Pinto back in the 1980s. Incidentally, my dad rarely swore, but my vocabulary expanded a little every time he had to work on that “rolling piece of…”.

I’ll let your imagination fill in the blanks.

I’ve heard you can accomplish the same effect using Coca-Cola. But why waste a good can of sugary goodness (Yeah right lol),  when you can use a battery terminal cleaning brush. I have about three of them scattered around the basement and garage. One reason I like them is because they’re like me – cheap, but effective.

How to prevent corrosion

I like preventing battery-terminal deposits even better than cleaning them. Battery-terminal grease can be applied to the terminals to help prevent corrosion. It’s available at any auto parts store and usually comes in a little ketchup-like packet.

Another great option is AMSOIL Heavy-Duty Metal Protector. It creates a protective coating on terminals that wards off corrosion. Plus, you can use it as vehicle undercoating to guard against rust.

Whatever your method, pop the hood periodically and give the battery terminals a good cleaning. Living where sub-zero cold is common, I clean my battery terminals every fall regardless how they look to ensure I’m not met with that a dead engine when I turn the key on a cold morning.

16Jul 2018
land speed record

AMSOIL Helps Team FTF Cycles Achieve 8 Land-Speed Records Jamie Jarvi|Aug 14, 2017 2:02 PM The competitive realm of racing spans the landscape, encompassing virtually every form of transportation. The need for speed has found its way into everything from lawnmowers to heavily modified cars and motorcycles, leading enthusiasts on an endless pursuit to generate […]

12Jun 2018

Dealer Aiming for the Top It’s said that successful AMSOIL Dealers are fiercely independent. The same is said of Texans. Dealers Joann and Robert Smythe of Rosharon, Texas easily fit that description. They launched their Dealership about 18 months ago and are already Premier Direct Jobbers. “My husband and I have been selfemployed for most […]

12Jun 2018
Shitty transmission fluid verses fresh

Transmission Pan Drop vs. Flush: Which is Better? John Baker|May 08, 2018 10:56 AM It depends on what you want to accomplish. But, first of all, check your owner’s manual to see if your vehicle manufacturer recommends one instead of the other. If you want to ensure removal of nearly all the old transmission fluid, […]

12Jun 2018
Boyd Coddington of “American Hot Rod” attempts to bring this rust heap back to life.

Entombed 50 Years, Miss Belvedere Still Turns Heads Ed Newman|Apr 30, 2018 8:32 AM Miss Belvedere finally finds a home After 10 years of de-rusting and restoration, Miss Belvedere finally found a suitor in the form of Historic Auto Attractions, in Roscoe, Ill. The Smithsonian rejected her. And, while other auto museums offered to display […]

12Jun 2018
Break in engine period

Do Older Vehicles Need High Zinc Motor Oil? John Baker|Aug 25, 2017 8:37 AM Thanks to Hugh Ashburn for asking this question on our Facebook page.  In case you can’t click on the facebook link here is the entire question: We are Amsoil Dealers in Lewisville TX. My interest is in Older engines, and rebuilt older […]

04Jun 2018

Does NAPA Sell AMSOIL? (Where to buy AMSOIL) Daisy Quaker|Jan 12, 2018 10:11 AM Looking to buy AMSOIL products at your local NAPA store? The good news is, you can find AMSOIL products proudly stocked on the shelves of some stores. However, our products aren’t available in all retail stores. Here are some reasons why, and […]