Corroded battery

How to Deal With Battery Corrosion

What is battery corrosion, exactly? Have you ever looked under the hood of your car and noticed a strange discoloration around the terminals on your battery? Sometimes it takes on a whitish, flaky appearance, while in other cases it can look green or almost blue. This is the corrosion we’re talking about, and it can have a negative effect on the performance of your vehicle’s battery and charging system.

Don’t worry, because it’s easy to deal with. Check out these tips for understanding, cleaning and preventing corrosion on your battery terminals.

Where Does It Come From?

Anytime you place two different types of metals in contact with each other for a long enough period of time, there’s going to be a reaction. Throw in the fact that a battery releases hydrogen gas as part of its normal operation and then compound the entire situation with the heat and moisture present in any engine bay, and you have a recipe for corrosion. Eventually, if left unchecked, the corrosion can build to the point where it interferes with each terminal’s ability to conduct electricity. Since most car batteries are fairly accessible, regularly inspecting and dealing with corrosion isn’t a difficult automotive maintenance task.

Battery care

How Can You Clean It?

The simplest way to clean battery corrosion is with a wire brush. Remove the connections from each terminal and brush each clamp and terminal until the gunk has been removed. If it’s difficult to dislodge, you can also try adding a solution of baking soda and water to the mix and working it into crevices with a toothbrush (if you don’t have a wire brush handy). You can also buy a spray-on corrosion remover and try that on each terminal, although it’s likely that the previous two methods will be just as effective.

How Can You Prevent It?

There are a few different methods that you can employ to prevent future battery corrosion. Some mechanics recommend applying a no-corrode gel to each terminal, which also helps improve the conductivity between the clamp and the battery. You can also install battery terminal protectors over each post, which further reduces the chances of future corrosion. Simple petroleum jelly will also work in a pinch. Apply it to the terminals as you would with the anti-corrosion gel.

Check out all the electrical system products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on battery corrosion, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

about author

Benjamin Hunting

Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time.  I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.

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