How to Clean Car Battery Corrosion the Effective Ways?

how to clean car battery terminals with vinegar

How to clean car battery corrosion is as crucial as to keep your car go-ready. If you have been maintaining a private car for several years, it is likely that you have encountered corrosion around the terminals of your car battery. And you know that the car battery corrosion mostly affects the power supply from the battery to the electrical system of the car.

As obvious consequences, you may find your car not starting properly, cranking feebly, and clicking faster than normal. Furthermore, the radio may suddenly stop and the ignition will go off.  Leaving corrosion untreated will certainly lead matters even worse. So cleaning corrosion in the battery terminals efficiently is the only salvation but the question is how to do it.

That is where this article comes to your rescue. The cleaning steps described here are what our expert team of automobile engineers and garage mechanics has suggested. They deem it crucial to have sound knowledge of the causes, symptoms, and preventive measures of battery terminals corrosions.

What is car battery corrosion?

Car battery corrosion is the unsightly piling up of a whitish or bluish substance on and around the car battery terminals. Three common substances known as corrosion are – leaked hydrogen gas, electrolytes, and copper sulfate. All the three are bad electric conductors and bar the flow of electric current to pass from the battery terminals to the car electrical system. Thus, car battery corrosion can bring your car movement into a halt. If the car anyhow runs, the audio system may not work; ignition may stop for lack of power and more. It is normally found to pile up between the battery terminals and wires. Though this is one of the crucial symptoms of a bad battery, there are others such as aging, fast-draining, and cracks in the cable or box.

Don’t worry. There are ways to get rid of all.

What causes car battery corrosion?

It is a general knowledge that car battery corrosion is linked with the lead-acid batteries used to power the car engine and the electronics – radio, work light, and more. You may come across a whitish substance piling up around the battery terminal if and when you open the car hood. To your utter dismay, it may lead to the said inconveniences if left untreated for long.

Now the question is whether it is only the by-product of lead-acid batteries or not? Here are the other reasons what causes battery terminals to corrode.

Hydrogen gas emission

Batteries turn acid into electric energy to bring the car electrical system into life. By doing this, it produces hydrogen gas that finds its way to come out through the leaks in battery walls. When the leaked hydrogen gas appears in the atmosphere, it encounters other substances and particles around the battery terminals to produce corrosion here.

You may find corrosion piling up on either terminal. If the battery suffers from undercharging, corrosion will settle around the negative terminal and the reverse will happen in case of overcharging. Whatever side it stores on, the hassle and the treatment are the same.

Electrolyte Leakage

This is too a by-product of the lead-acid batteries. Overuse, abuse, and even proper use for longer period cause the lead-acid batteries to discharge electrolyte through the leakages to store on and around the battery terminals. In this case, the accumulation of electrolytes accelerates if you cross the safe limit while filling the battery with water.

Corrosion around Copper Clip

Copper is an ideal electricity conductor not to encourage corrosion easily and quickly. But over a long time, the terminals are found to be surrounded by the bluish precipitate – blue is the color of copper sulfate.

It happens that electric currents produce copper sulfate and leave this on the terminals while passing through them. That is what causes further corrosion and ultimately disturb the flow of the current. Unlike copper, copper sulfate is not a good conductor of electric currents.

 how to clean battery terminals without baking soda

Battery Terminal Corrosion Preventions

Prevention is better than cure may sound sometimes a cliché. But in this regard, the battery corrosion preventive measures will save your time, money, and mood. As we have by now known the causes of car battery corrosion, the preventions should not be that foreign to us. Here you go with them.

Battery terminal grease

One of the most Effect ways to Prevent Corrosion by using grease. We have given suggestions so many car users to utilize proper grease to the battery terminals. So you should use Dielectric grease and this grease protects the electrical connection, it’s a silicone-based grease. You can use this grease spark plug too. Sometimes you can use hot water to the battery terminal if you have no grease.

Premium Copper Terminals

Battery terminals tend to be copper ones thanks to the superior electric conductor copper is. But average copper terminals too over a long time accumulate copper sulfate on the terminals. Therefore, as a change for the better; we can opt for the copper compression terminals to prevent corrosion on the battery terminals. While they will not completely blow out the possibility of corroding the terminals but they are the best in the market to serve this purpose.

Careful Battery Charging

We know one of the causes of corrosion is the imbalanced charging of the battery. That is to say, most of the time batteries in the car either left undercharged or remain overcharged. This is sheer a case of negligence and adherence to the proper level of charging can prevent corrosion from building up on the battery terminals. Just follow the recommended voltage in the manufacturer’s manual, can serve this purpose the best.

Anti-corrosion Sprays

You will find numerous anti-corrosion sprays in the market that are very effective to discourage corrosion on the spot it is sprayed. If you find them expensive enough, you can smear the terminals with Vaseline, petroleum jelly, and grease to keep them corrosion-protected. Coated pads and plastic cap may prove very effective to keep corrosion away.

These are effective ways of effective battery terminal corrosion preventions. You should keep an eye not to let the corrosion build-up grow too big to put a bar in the pass of electricity.

Corroded battery terminal symptoms

What are the symptoms to guess that your car battery terminals are under attack of non-conductor corrosion? There is how can you tell if your battery terminals are bad?

Visual Signal

On opening the car hood, when you spot noticeable whitish powdery substance accumulating around the battery terminals; this should be taken a signal of upcoming corrosion that will cause untimely and unexpected hassle. Therefore, you should clean up any build-up on the terminal at sight.

Problem Starting the Engine

The direct result of corrosion is that you will find your car facing difficulty in starting. And if the corrosion is of big amount, even the jump starter will prove ineffective to kick start the engine. Corrosion of medium amount will cause your car cranking weekly and clicking constantly at turning the key.

This should be taken as the signal and you should immediately open the car hood to check for corroded battery terminals. The terminals being the spot to pass current to run the car and other electronics, it must be corrosion-free.

Loss of electrical power

A severely corroded terminal will fail the car electric system to its worst. Whenever you notice a gradual loss of power in the overall function of the car’s electric system, you should take it as a symptom of dysfunctional battery terminals owing to extreme corrosion.

Despite being very cheap, they are too crucial for your car electric system to ignore. So, at the sight or signal of any three of the said symptoms, rush to the immediate cure.

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How to clean car battery corrosion?

As is said more than once that lead-acid batteries may produce such elements that cause corrosion in the battery terminals. Whatever preventive measures we follow, corrosion will not stop settling on the terminals. We can at best keep the level to a minimal level not to pose a real threat. But if and when it grows to the severe level; you have to clean those efficiently and they are the steps to follow.

Gather the cleaning materials before you are up to action and they are your home items. They include:

  • Protective gloves (dish gloves)
  • Soda
  • Baking Soda
  • Used Toothbrush
  • Rag
  • Petroleum Jelly/Vaseline/Grease
  • Water

Step-I: Make the formula

The formula is super simple to make. Take one spoon of baking soda and mix with water. Now, stir the mixture to dissolve the soda into the water completely.

Step-II: Undo the battery cables carefully

Now, it’s time to go a bit careful as manhandling car battery can cause a mishap. To avoid any such circumstance, first, disconnect the charging cable from the negative terminal and then come to detach the cable from the positive one. The battery remains activated with both the cables attached and electric current stay stored in the positive terminal.

Step-III: Start cleaning using the toothbrush

Now, dip the toothbrush into the cleaner formula and apply the brush on the corroded terminal. Now start scrubbing gently to eliminate any build-up. Check for corrosion along the wires and clean there too.

Step-IV: Rinse off the Terminals with water 

The formula was a mixture of baking soda and water. So it is likely that there will remain some residue after wiping the corrosion off. Now that must be removed by spraying water or wiping with a damp rag. After the last particle of residue is wiped off, let the terminals air-dry.

Step-V: Smear the terminals with Anti-corrosive

Now the terminals are ready to serve but to discourage further corrosion, you can smear the terminals with anti-corrosive sprays. If you want to go free of cost, apply Vaseline or petroleum jelly in your house.

How to Clean Car Battery Terminals YouTube Video


You have reached that end of the article is evident that you have already learned all about cleaning and preventing procedures of car battery corrosion.  But to keep the battery terminals clean forever, you have to keep other build-ups away. For that, you can go for bug remover for cars.

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