How to Clean Automotive Ground Wires

by Bob White

Automotive ground wires provide the electrical path back to the source to complete a circuit. Most cars use the vehicle's frame as a universal grounding point. The connection from the wire to the frame can sometimes become corroded. This corrosion prevents the electrical current from completing the circuit. When troubleshooting an electrical problem the first place to look is these grounding locations. A bad ground can be cleaned with common household products.

Disconnect the vehicle's battery negative (black) connection by loosening the terminal nut with a screwdriver and lifting it off. Place the cable in a position where it doesn't touch the negative or positive terminal. A good method is to position it behind a component in the engine bay so that it can't accidentally be moved.

Pour baking soda and a small amount of water on the grounding point and scrub with the stiff bristle brush until the corrosion has been removed. If you don't have a stiff bristle brush, an old toothbrush can be substituted.

Rinse the baking soda away with water and dry the connection with a towel.

Unscrew the electrical ground from the frame of the vehicle with a screwdriver if there is significant rust that can't be removed with baking soda.

Scrub off the rust with sandpaper until the metal is shiny and reinstall the ground connection reversing the method used to remove it. If the ground connection has been weakened due to the rust, replace the connection with a new one.

Apply a small amount of electrical grease to the bare metal and ground connection to prevent it from future corrosion.

Items you will need

About the Author

Bob White began his writing career in 2006. Working in sales, he was a technical writer tasked with responding to requests for proposal. White has a Bachelor of Arts in computer science and a diploma in home inspection. He has also worked in construction, landscaping and the pool industry for more than 15 years.

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