A healthy Car Battery plays a vital role in your driving experience. The Battery is responsible to provide your engine with the starting zap and to provide energy to the electrical components of your car.
A chemical reaction puts your battery to work, the car battery converts chemical energy into electrical energy thus providing the energy to start your car by providing that energy to the starter. Although aside from starting the car engine it is also the battery’s job to stabilize the electrical voltage in the car.
Which is why it is very rewarding to keep your car battery in optimal condition and thus here is a little life-hack to keep your car battery sparkling clean without spending much effort and resources.
The electrical connection points of a battery that are responsible for electrical charge and discharge from the battery to the car are called Battery Terminals. There are normally two terminals on a standard battery that are usually made of lead. There are always two (2): the anode and the cathode aka the “+” and the “-“. The + terminal is where positive current comes from and it returns to the – terminal.
Importance of Battery Terminal
It is of utmost importance to have a good connection between a battery and a car. A good connection ensures a long and healthy battery life. While caring about your battery does not seems to be such an important task but failure to do so can lead to permanent harm for your car. A badly kept battery can cause shorter battery life, blown fuses and a possible chance of catching fire which can permanently harm engine components as the car battery is mainly located very close to the main engine of a car.
Causes of Terminal Battery Corrosion
Here are some common reasons as to why your battery terminals might have been corroded.
Hydrogen Embrittlement: Hydrogen gas released from the acid in the car battery can mix with other things under the hood and produces the corrosion you see on the terminals. Your main objective in this case should be to keep the lead, escaped hydrogen gas, and oxygen from mixing which forms the corrosion you see after a period of time.
Galvanic Corrosion: Corrosion can also occur due to bi-metal contact between copper and lead alloys. In this case when two dissimilar metals touch in a corrosive environment, galvanic corrosion occurs. In simpler words one of the metals experiences an accelerated corrosion rate due to the other one. This is a passive process that is bound to occur however the speed of this process can be somewhat controlled.
How to Check if the Terminals are Corroded?
Here are a few symptoms that can lead to terminal corrosion.
Any corrosion on the battery terminals can break the link between the terminals and the clips due to a wall of corrosion in-between. This can lead to difficulty in starting the engine. Although this can also occur due to loosened clips.
Corrosion can be visibly detected. A poor battery would have visible corrosion on itself that shows it may be damaged. You can check corrosion by opening your car hood and looking for a light blue salt -like compound forming on the terminals of your car battery.
Total loss of electrical power also indicates severely corrosive or broken terminals. Unfortunately terminals corroded to this degree cannot benefit from cleaning and would require immediate replacements.
How to Use Vinegar to Clean Car Battery Corrosion?
White vinegar is a very effective method for removing rust and corrosion. It performs better than other household products like coke or baking soda when it comes to cleaning corrosion and rust. Here are a few simple steps on how to clean battery terminals with vinegar.
Open the hood of your car, Locate the battery and take of the rubber covers protecting the clamps then take off those terminal clamps from the terminals of the battery by using a plier or a mini ranch.
Pour some white vinegar in a small container and add a tablespoon of lemon juice in it.
Submerge the terminal clamps into the mix and pour white vinegar mix evenly over the surface of the battery terminals and give it some time to settle in a cool and dry place.
After an hour or so, the corrosion would change into a thick paste-like material. Dampen a piece of cloth with the same mix and sprinkle some baking soda on the terminals which will start a chemical reaction with the vinegar mixed corrosion.
Leave it for a minute then clean off the rust and corrosion paste from the terminals with the damp cloth.
Reconnect the clamps and the terminals after making sure they’re completely dry.
Benefits of a Clean Battery Terminal
Cleaning the Battery terminals and prevent your car battery from malfunctioning at important times and can prolong the battery life to a certain extent. Furthermore by cleaning corrosion from the battery you clear our some of the possible unwanted resistances in the electrical flow which results in a much more healthier electrical circuit that makes your car battery run smooth in rough conditions, possibly saving you a trip from the mechanic.
Most importantly, cleaning minimizes the chances of you getting stuck in the middle of nowhere trying to jump-start a battery with dead terminals during an important event. Surely no one wants that to happen. Therefore it is highly advisable to properly maintain your car battery terminals.
With the following you now have gained the perfect knowledge on the most effective way of keeping your car battery in optimal condition.
So now that you have all the knowledge you need, what are you waiting for? Get your hands dirty and lets get those engines ready to roll!
Hey! I’m A.J. Baime, an author, journalist & public speaker on anything & everything automobile related. I’m the regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal and best down for my books (i.e. The Accidental President, Go Like Hell) Writing about this industry is a huge passion of mine, so here’s a little piece of my mind.