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Car Battery Corrosion

Suketu Mehta
Corrosion can sometimes damage the whole battery entailing you to replace it. Leaf through this story to learn how to prevent and clean car batteries to avoid their corrosion.
Corrosion is the worst enemy of all electrical connections. Whenever moisture comes in contact with metal objects of any electric instrument, it causes corrosion.
Since there is an electrical charge going through the metal connections, they tend to attract and stick different compounds on them. These compounds join together and eventually disrupt connection between electrical contacts.
The car battery is a type of rechargeable battery which supplies electric power to various components. Its basic function is to start the car. Out of the many problems it may face, corrosion is the most common and sometimes it can also spoil the whole battery, calling for replacement.
However, the good part is that it can be prevented by following easy instructions.

The Causes

The main factor responsible for corrosion is the hydrogen gas produced by sulfuric acid which is present in the battery. Whenever the battery is at work, little amount of hydrogen is continuously released through the ventilation caps.
Once out, this gas mixes with the dirt, humidity, and heat in the air along with grease, coolant and oil inside the car hood, and corrodes battery terminals and cables in its vicinity. Corrosion is thus a natural process, which can be prevented and avoided through proper maintenance.

Process to Clean the Battery

Gloves, eye protection gear, baking soda, a wrench, petroleum jelly, and an old toothbrush are the materials you will require to get rid of this problem. Follow the instructions given in next slides, to clean the battery.

Step 1

To start with, loosen all the clamps using a wrench and unplug the cables. The positive cable needs to be removed first, followed by the negative one. When you keep these cables aside, make sure they do not touch each other.

Step 2

You will have to mix water with baking soda and form a paste. At each terminal posts, apply generous amounts of this paste with the help of an old toothbrush. When it is applied on the corroded areas, foam is noticed. Leave it as it is for about 5 to 10 minutes, so that it soaks up.

Step 3

To take out all remaining corrosion from the terminals, scrub them thoroughly using a toothbrush. Wash these areas with water and use paper towels to dry it out. Be careful and avoid getting the paste on your body parts or clothes.

Step 4

Once both the terminal posts are washed and dried, use paper towels to apply a dense layer of petroleum jelly on each of the posts. Ensure that the whole terminal is covered with petroleum jelly. Now reconnect the battery cables to their respective places. While reconnecting, the negative cable is to be attached first. Secure both cables by tightening them.

Tips and Warnings

  • While cleaning the battery, it is recommended that you protect your eyes by wearing proper eye gear. Sparks may fly when you try attaching the cables.
  • Remove any jewelry you may be wearing like bracelets, rings, and even wrist watches with a metal strap. When metal objects come in contact with terminals, it could cause burns.
  • Battery acid is hazardous and hence it is advised not to touch the corrosion or white powder with bare hands. In case you do, make sure you wash your hands immediately and apply some baking soda.
  • Every time you refill the washer fluid, it is important to check for battery corrosion.
  • Follow the sequence for removing and attaching terminals as given in the instructions, to avoid an electric shock.
  • Although baking soda is best for this job, you can also use any aerated drinks or hydrogen peroxide.
There are certain prevention kits available in the market, which are effective in preventing corrosion. Applying such products and by regularly cleaning and maintaining the battery, can help you get rid of this problem.