How to Clean Your Vehicle’s Battery Terminals

Dirty battery terminals will make it difficult to start your car, truck, or SUV. Battery acid can corrode the terminals and road grime can find its way into your engine, as well. Keeping the terminals clean ensures secure contact between the battery cables and terminals and keeps your engine starting like new every time you turn the key in the ignition – that is until the battery finally dies. You can clean your vehicle’s battery terminals quickly and easily. Here’s how.

Make a Homemade Cleaning Solution

Grab a plastic container and mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 1 cup of water. You can use tap water. It doesn’t have to be filtered water. Stir the two ingredients together until the baking soda has dissolved completely and all you see is what appears to be clear water. The baking soda should be dissolved completely before you apply it to the battery terminals.

Remove the Battery Cables From the Terminals

With your vehicle engine off and the hood popped, remove the negative battery cable from its terminal first and then the positive cable from its terminal second. Do this in this order. Inspect your car, truck, or SUV’s battery for damage other than the corrosion and leaks. If the battery case looks bloated, swollen, or as if it’s leaking, you need a new battery. So stop what you’re doing and go buy one.

Grab a Toothbrush and Start Cleaning

If the battery case looks fine, grab an old toothbrush nobody uses anymore, dip it in your baking soda/water cleaner, and start scrubbing away at the battery terminals. The baking soda will fizzle, so don’t panic if this happens. Scrub-a-dub-dub, which might take some elbow grease, until the terminals are clean. Remove all buildup and corrosion for maximum effect.

Grab a Spray Bottle

Once you’re done scrubbing away at the terminals, grab an empty spray bottle and fill it with water. Spritz the terminals with the freshwater and wipe them with a rag until all the grime and baking soda solution are rinsed clean. The terminals should shine as if they’re brand new. Grab a dry cloth and dry each terminal thoroughly – thoroughly! – before you reattach the battery cables.

Head to the Baby’s Room

What? Head to your baby’s room and grab the jar of petroleum jelly. Dab a small amount of petroleum jelly on each terminal and rub it around so the terminal is coated. Don’t put too much on; just enough to lightly coat the terminal. The petroleum jelly will prevent your battery terminals from corroding in the future. Reconnect the positive cable first and then the negative one. Voila! You’re all done.

If you need a new battery, stop by Ideal Automotive or give us a call. We’d be happy to replace your battery and get you back out on the road.


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