How to Clean Battery Terminals

Last Updated on September 1, 2020

Because car batteries work by storing chemical energy that they convert into electrical energy when powering  your vehicle, they are susceptible to corrosion on the terminals which will lead to a prevention of the power being transmitted to the car truck.

Corrosion can be identified by looking directly at the terminals on your battery. If you see a white powdery substance then there is corrosion that must be cleaned from the terminals. If you do not do this you may stall your vehicle or prevent it from even starting.

What you need to have to clean corrosion from your battery terminals

Battery terminal cleaner

Wire brush

Metal pliers



Protective goggles

Battery terminal protectant

Safety precautions

Battery acid  is very caustic and can cause severe burns and irritation to the skin or eyes if they are exposed to the acid.  Because of this, it is imperative that you use protective goggles and clubs while working on cleaning your battery terminals.  you should also wear clothing that will prevent any chemicals from reaching your skin.

When working on cleaning your battery terminals, you should not touch other parts of metal on your vehicle.  By touching other parts you can short out your car battery.

Before you clean the battery terminals of corrosion you must inspect your battery and see if there are any cracks or leaks. If there are any leaks you must take care of that situation as the battery is no longer safe to use. Here is the article on how to clean up leaky battery acid.

You should also check to make sure that your battery cables are in good condition and that there are no cracks to the wire housing or two the battery terminal connections.

For more battery guides and tips read these articles

11 Simple Steps to Clean Battery Terminals

Step One

Locate your vehicle’s battery. In the majority of vehicles the battery will be located under the hood near the engine. some Vehicles do have the battery in the trunk area but this is not common.

Step 2

Be sure that your car has been off for at least 30 minutes so that everything under the hood has cooled. Never clean or work under the hood before the engine is cooled as you could burn yourself severely.

Step 3

I’m sure that you have all protective gear on. This includes safety goggles and gloves and clothing that will protect your skin from any potential contact with battery acid.

Step 4

Next you will be removing the battery cables from the battery. Consult your owner’s manual for specifics on your particular make and model but the majority of batteries you must first remove the rubber terminal cover and then loosen the battery terminal cable connectors. Find the cable that is marked with a negative sign, this is the negative terminal and should be removed from the battery terminal first.  Next remove the positive battery cable which will be noted with a plus sign usually located either on the battery or on the rubber cover for the terminal. make sure that the cables are pulled back away from the battery to ensure that they do not touch the terminals creating a connection to the battery.

Step 5

next you will clean the corrosion from the battery terminals. Spray one at a time each of the battery terminals with the battery terminal cleaner. You will likely see some bubbling and foaming as this terminal cleaner will react with the corrosion.

Step 6

Take your wire brush and gently rub each battery terminal and the battery cable clamps. you should scrub them with the wire brush until you see no more corrosion on any of the terminal or battery clamp metal.

Step 7

Take your water bottle and spray each terminal gently including the cable clamp connectors. This is to ensure that all of the terminal cleaner will be removed from the terminals and the cable clamps.

Step 8

Now take the dry cloth and thoroughly dry each terminal and each battery cable clamp. Ensure that they are completely dry and there is no more moisture on any of the connectors or the terminals.

 Step 9

Apply a layer of battery terminal protectant on each of the two battery terminals. This will help ensure that corrosion does not accumulate on the terminals again.

Step 10

Connect the positive battery terminal to the positive terminal on your battery. Make sure that is tightened down completely.   Next attach the negative battery cable plan to the negative terminal and ensure that it is also tightened down completely. Now please the battery terminal covers back over each of the battery terminals.

 Step 11

Remove all of your tools and close the hood. Start your car, it should start right up and you now have clean and protected battery terminals.

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