Car Care Tips

Tips to keep your car on the road.

Maintenance July 5, 2018

How to Clean Car Battery Contacts in 4 Easy Steps

Clean car battery contacts.

If your car battery is out of commission, you’re going nowhere fast.

This cube-like device is what supplies an electrical current to your starter, which ultimately starts your engine. Although the alternator takes over once the engine is started, you need to have a functional car battery to even get that far.

The average car battery lasts anywhere from three to five years. However, exposure to extreme conditions or poor driving habits can shorten that lifespan. That’s why it’s imperative to ensure that your battery is clean.

Signs That Your Car Battery Needs to be Cleaned

Have you ever noticed a sulfur-like odor coming from your battery? Some liken the smell to rotten eggs. Regardless, an odd smell coming from your battery indicates that you may have a battery leak, which ultimately leads to corrosion. You’ll most likely notice white build up and damage near the positive, “+,” and negative, “-,” connections. If you let this build up too long, your car may not start.

It’s a good idea to make a habit of cleaning your battery terminals before you experience issues. This can elongate the life of your battery and make it easier to “jump” should it die at some point.

Read: How to Maximize Your Car’s Battery Life

How to Clean Car Battery Contacts

If you spot corrosion on your car battery, you can remove it yourself. Before we dive into each step, let’s talk safety. A few things to keep in mind as you clean your car battery contacts:

  • Make sure the battery is completely disconnected
  • Never touch metal to metal
  • Take it slow
  • Keep metal tools away

Keeping the above safety tips in mind, carefully follow these steps to clean your battery terminals:

Step 1: Disconnect the battery.

Disconnect the wires from the negative battery post, then disconnect the wires from the positive post. Put the wires aside. DO NOT disconnect the positive post first. If you disconnect the positive post first, you run the risk of electric shock or burns if your tools come in contact with the exposed post and the metal of the vehicle.

Step 2: Mix a cup of water with a teaspoon of baking soda.

Once you have your mixture, either pour it on the corrosion directly or wet an old rag with the mixture and wipe the corroded area with it. The baking soda will dissolve the corrosion quickly and allow you to remove it easily.

Step 3: Clean the terminals and battery cables.

Once corrosion is removed, clean the battery terminals and cables that attach at the battery with a wire brush or toothbrush with the baking soda mixture applied to it.

Step 4: Reconnect the battery.

Wipe any excess moisture off the battery and terminals and reconnect the wires, starting with the positive terminal and then the negative. Tighten the connector locking nut to make sure the battery cable is secured on the terminal. Gently wiggle the battery cable at the terminal to ensure there is a good connection.

Read: Vehicle Battery Maintenance

Ask an Expert at Virginia Tire & Auto

Having trouble with your car battery? Bring your vehicle into Virginia Tire & Auto and we can diagnose and repair the issue. We’ll help you choose the right battery for your vehicle and driving habits. Schedule an appointment at one of our 13 locations today!

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