How to Prevent Corrosion on a Car Battery Terminal

by Jody L. Campbell
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Battery terminal corrosion is one of the leading causes of premature battery failure. Seeping battery acid will build up a white, yellowish or green (or a mixture of all three colors) corrosive powder on the battery terminals that is highly caustic. In addition, it will hinder the electrical connection needed for the starter, and the battery will not discharge on demand.

Step 1

Put on a pair of safety goggles and a set of durable latex gloves, and open the hood.

Step 2

Loosen the positive battery terminal clamp. Use a wrench to loosen the nut, until the terminal clamp can be wiggled back and forth. The positive battery terminal usually has a red battery wire, but there will also be a POS, or a plus sign, stamped on the battery casing, near the terminal clamp. Remove the clamp.

Step 3

Perform Step 2 on the negative battery terminal clamp. Removing the clamps in this fashion (positive first, negative last) will help prevent sparks from occurring. Batteries can emit slight-to-moderate amounts of highly flammable gases that can ignite and cause a serious- to-fatal explosion. Isolate both the terminal clamps, so they do not accidentally come into contact with the battery posts during the procedure.

Step 4

Mix a half cup of baking soda with a cup and a half of warm water, and stir the solution to dilute the baking soda.

Step 5

Clean the corrosion off the battery terminal clamps, thoroughly, with the wire brush and the baking soda/water solution, and clean the battery posts in the same fashion.

Step 6

Apply a moderate level coating of petroleum jelly to the cleaned battery terminal clamps, after they have thoroughly dried. Apply another coat of the jelly to the battery posts. Battery corrosion inhibitor spray is also acceptable. If using the spray, apply an even coat to the clamps and posts, and allow the spray to dry.

Step 7

Reconnect the positive terminal clamp first (the procedure to prevent sparks is opposite of the removal procedure). Tighten the clamp with the wrench. Reconnect the negative terminal clamp last, and tighten.

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