How-to

How to Clean Battery Cables Fast and Easy

If you are having trouble with your car battery, it’s not always because it needs charging. Chances are good that the terminals have corrosion on them. This is especially true with older car batteries. Learning how to clean battery cables is simple. I will show you how to easily clean the cables on your battery so they look and perform like new.

Inspect the battery posts under the hood of your car. Corrosion is easy to spot. It will look something like a powder on the battery posts.

You may not have to replace the battery though. Try cleaning off any corrosion on the battery contacts first. You might just save yourself some cash instead of buying a new car battery.

Contents

1 Corrosion on Battery Terminal
1.1 How to Clean Battery Cables and Connectors
1.1.1 Tools & Materials Needed:
1.1.2 A Note on Car Battery Safety
1.2 The Best Way to Clean Battery Terminals With Household Products
1.2.1 Directions for Cleaning Battery Cables and Terminals:
1.3 Related Posts:

Corrosion on Battery Terminal

How to Clean Battery Cables and Connectors

Cleaning battery connectors and posts is not very hard. It can even be done with household materials.

TOOLS & MATERIALS NEEDED:

Here is a quick rundown on the tools and materials you will need to clean your car battery:

  • Battery post brush or wire brush
  • Wrench
  • Gloves
  • Eye and face protection
  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Toothbrush
  • Battery cleaner with acid indicator (optional)

A NOTE ON CAR BATTERY SAFETY

Car and truck batteries contain sulfuric acid and produce explosive mixtures of hydrogen and oxygen. Batteries discharge and generate hydrogen gas even when it is not in use. When working on the battery, make sure you are in a well-ventilated area. Always wear a face shield and gloves. Wear coveralls or old clothing which you don’t care if they get wrecked.

When disconnecting battery cables, always take the negative (-) cable off first. Then the positive. When reconnecting, put the positive (+) on and then the negative (-) cable.

Battery acid is sulfuric acid and water. It can burn your skin and clothing. Keep an acid-neutralizing solution handy when working on the car battery. Baking soda or household ammonia mixed with water will neutralize battery acid.

The Best Way to Clean Battery Terminals With Household Products

DIRECTIONS FOR CLEANING BATTERY CABLES AND TERMINALS:

Step 1: Disconnect the battery cables

Remove the negative (-) battery cable from the terminal. You will need to loosen the nut on the clamp with the appropriate size wrench. Remove the positive (+) battery cable using the wrench by loosening the nut.

If the cables are badly corroded, you may have to wiggle the cables to get them loose. Be careful not to short out the battery with any tools you are using. You don’t want the tools to make contact with the car while loosening the cables.

Step 2: Inspect the battery cables

Inspect your battery cables for corrosion and excessive wear. If the cables or connectors are extensively damaged, you may need to replace them. Tuck the battery cables out of the way so they don’t fall back onto the battery. You don’t want to cause a short.

Step 3: Inspect the battery for damage

Check over your car battery for cracks in the case. Inspect the battery terminals for any damage. If you find any cracks in the battery it needs to be replaced. Same with the terminals if there is excessive damage.

Step 4: Clean the battery cable connectors and battery posts

Pour some baking soda onto the battery posts. Dip your toothbrush in water and use it to brush the posts. Do the same with the connectors on the battery cables. Make sure you clean the inside of the battery clamps.

If the corrosion is extensive, you may need to use a wire brush or battery terminal brush. You can also try letting the cleaning solution sit for 5 minutes.

Step 5: Dry the cables and posts

Once you have cleaned the corrosion off it’s time to dry everything. Use a rag to dry the cleaning solution off of the battery and cable connections.

Step 6: Prevent future corrosion

Once everything is clean and dry, apply some battery terminal protector on to them. This will help prevent corrosion from forming in the future.

Step 7: Reconnect battery cables

Reconnect the positive (+) cable first and tighten down the clamp. Now reconnect the negative (-) cable and tighten the clamp. Reattach any plastic or rubber shields if the cables had them. If not you can buy some to help protect the cables.

The result: A clean battery!

Car battery after cleaning the corrosion

Step 8: Grab a beer

Now that you have a nice and clean battery, get yourself a beer to celebrate.

See how simple of a procedure it is to learn how to clean battery cables? Have you heard of any other tips for cleaning car batteries? Let me know in the comments.

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