How To Clean Car Battery Terminals

Maintaining Your Car

So you've decided those battery terminals need to be cleaned. If they are dirty, corroded or covered in calcium, then you are right! I am excited to present you with an easy how-to on cleaning your battery terminals. It is a simple and easy job that ANYONE can do, and you might just like it so much that you decide to do a little more maintenance. Which is what I am hoping!  If you're bitten by the maintenance bug, you can learn some basic auto repair tips by getting a copy of A Mechanic Comes Clean.

  1. Man changing his car batteryHead down to your local auto parts store, or get online. PartsAmerica is one of my personal favorites, and they won't do you wrong. You need to buy yourself a battery terminal brush and some battery cleaner spray. It is also wise to invest in a cheap set of gloves for this endeavor, but they are optional.
  2. Pull out that old toolset you've had in the back of the closet. You will need a socket, wrench, and possibly a crescent wrench. Once you have located these tools (or gone out and bought some), your job is to remove the battery cables from the battery. Make sure your car is off and they keys are not in the ignition before you try to remove them.
  3. After you have removed the cables from the terminals, get out your handy dandy can of battery cleaning spray. Do not be afraid to cover your battery terminals and cable connectors with this cleaning product. It is made of an acidic chemical that will help break away the rust, corrosion and calcium that may have built up on your battery.
  4. Once the battery terminals are thoroughly doused with the cleaning spray, now its time to remember where you put that battery terminal brush that you just bought. Scrub those cables and terminals with a lot of elbow grease. Do not be afraid to break them. Unless they are extremely old and need to be replaced anyway, there is no need for them to break. Get them as clean as you can.
  5. Once the battery terminals are as clean as you can get them, replace the cables back onto the battery terminals. Make sure they go back on the same way the came off. It is a general rule that red goes to positive, and black goes to negative, but occasionally, the cable colors may vary from car to car, so just make sure to remember how they went on.

Wow! That was easy and helpful! Now that you have learned how to clean your battery terminals, please do it often! It will help more than you know. And whatever you do, don't throw that terminal brush back in the closet with your other tools! Put it in your glove box. It is small, and if you ever need it, it should be in a place where you can easily find it.


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what should I use for the battery cleaner? Baking soda and water?

By James Goetz