Useful Tips

How to quickly clean the battery terminals


Part of motorists to eliminate plaque. They moisten the tissue, and then wipe the terminals and electrodes until the coating is cleaned. However, using this method requires caution. After all, gasoline belongs to the category of flammable liquids. And you also need to prevent it from getting on plastic or rubber components, because gasoline is a solvent. Therefore, it can cause damage to plastic and rubber.

Oxidation control methods

First you need to clearly determine whether there is an electrolyte pass through the electrodes. In the case of an affirmative answer, it is necessary to exclude this factor.

This is the most cardinal method of solving the problem. However, not everyone is ready to immediately go for the purchase of a new battery. However, this method is the only one if there is a break in the electrode mount. In this case, the passage of electrolyte is guaranteed.

Something else useful for you:

To do this, you can use both the proven "grandfather" method, and modern solutions.

Video: Oxidation of battery terminals

Many car owners know that if you arm yourself with a felt ring and soak it with engine oil, you can successfully solve the oxidation problem. As a result, the formation of an oily layer occurs, due to which evaporation of the electrolyte is eliminated, and no plaque occurs at the contacts. The implementation of this method is extremely simple - you need to put one ring of felt-soaked felt on the battery electrode, then fix the terminal and put on another ring on top. But motor oil is not the only option. Instead, it is allowed to use technical petroleum jelly, solid oil or other insulating substances.

You can go a more modern way. It implies the use of not just motor oil, but a special impregnation - "electro fat". A similar tool was originally developed to protect the battery terminals.

In order to prolong the successful and uninterrupted operation of the battery, it is necessary not only to combat oxidation and plaque formation on the terminals, but also to eliminate the cause of this phenomenon in time. All this will greatly facilitate the start of the engine in cold weather.

Often the cause of problems when starting the engine is an uncharged battery or a broken generator. The car may not start because of the banal oxidation of the terminals. White-blue, frost-like oxide crystals create high resistance between terminal and terminal , resulting in a lot of energy wasted.

Typically, an oxide is formed due to the release of battery acid vapor onto lead. It can evaporate from the microscopic gap between the terminals and the battery case, and can stand out from the plugs. It is worth paying attention if a lot of oxide forms on the terminals: this, with a high degree of probability, means that the generator gives excess energy and the battery "boils" due to overcharge.

To be sure of starting the car, you need to periodically clean the terminals and current leads. In a hurry, you can simply scrape off the oxide with a knife or wipe the oxidized places with sandpaper. But it is better, of course, not to expose the place of current transmission to mechanical stress and treat the terminals with an aqueous solution of soda.

Before cleaning, turn off the engine, remove the ignition key from the lock, and remove the terminals. In order not to accidentally short-circuit the battery with a key on the case, negative terminal is removed first . Soda composition is very easy to prepare: a tablespoon of soda in a glass of water. The resulting fluid is cleaned with a toothbrush to remove all formed corrosion, first from the upper part of the terminal, then from the lower and inner contact part. Deep corrosion can be removed with fine sandpaper. After the procedure, the terminals are washed with hot water and dried. Instead of a soda solution, you can use a mineral water or Coca-Cola, but this is already for fans to use things for other purposes.

To avoid loss of electricity during further operation, need to seal the junction . For this purpose felt or felt rings are suitable, which can be impregnated with oil for added effectiveness. Such rings, worn on current leads, will protect the terminals from acid fumes. After tightly fastening the terminals, they are treated with technical petroleum jelly, solid oil or special grease from the automotive accessories department. It is important that oil or any grease did not hit the junction terminals and output, because lubricants are inherently dielectrics (insulators).

Finally, note that deformation of the terminals and their loose tightening, as well as oxide lead to energy losses. So, damaged terminals must be replaced immediately. Otherwise, soon the battery will have to be changed together with the on-board electronics.

If the engine is the heart of the car, then the battery is the battery that gives charge to this very heart. And the oxidation of the terminals can interfere with this process. The appearance of friable white coating on the terminals occurs as a result of the chemical reaction of the lead from which they are made with acid fumes that are released from the battery. This process is also called electrochemical corrosion.

Signs of oxidation of the battery terminals

One of the most obvious signs of terminal oxidation is the not bright, dim light of headlights, turn signals, parking lights, brake lights when the battery is well charged. You should also think about a possible oxidation of the terminals if, when you try to start the car’s engine, the starter does not “grab” the first time, or cranks the crankshaft very hard, as if the battery is very discharged, although the car owner is sure of the opposite.

Why the battery terminals are oxidized: the main reasons

  • The penetration of electrolyte on the contact. This is due to loose rods, ajar or incompletely twisted battery plugs. Solution: check the tightness of the plug screw.
  • Physical deterioration of the battery. In this case, to fix the problem, you need to purchase a new battery, replacing the old one.
  • Remember that used batteries cannot be thrown away just like that; they must be handed over to a special organization.
  • Wrong electrolyte density. To avoid this reason, it is necessary to service the battery in time and use the finished electrolyte, and not dilute the acid yourself.
  • Damage to the battery case, violation of sealing, as a result - leakage of electrolyte, or short circuit of one of the sections of the battery. If there are stains on the battery near the input terminals, it is first necessary to restore the tightness.

On batteries, the case of which is made of bakelite, you should remove the old mastic from the output and pour fresh.

When the battery case is made of plastic, one of the following methods is suitable: apply the heated resin to the space around the terminal or treat the area with hot-melt adhesive using a heat gun.

Another method that can be applied after applying mastic or resin is to use felt. To do this, it is necessary to cut two rings from the specified material, about five millimeters thick, whose inner hole should be equal to the diameter of the base of the battery outlet, and the outer hole should exceed it by a couple of centimeters. The gaskets are moistened with engine oil, placed on the output terminals of the battery, and the terminals of the wires are fixed on top.

By the way, for these purposes, you can use not only felt, but also felt.

  • Another reason for the formation of plaque on the terminals may be insufficient contact between the end of the wire and the battery outlet - particles of water and electrolyte vapor penetrate from the environment, and when an electric charge passes through them, the anode is destroyed.

Do not forget that a tight fit of the battery terminal with a tip is necessary, but it is strictly forbidden to tap it with anything - this can cause recesses around the terminals. It is necessary to fix the tip tightly, but without applying excessive effort. To do this, it is better to use two keys, one to hold the bolt, and the other to tighten the nut. After fixing, a grease layer can be applied to the contact assembly.

  • The next reason is the clogging of the ventilation openings of the battery cans. This leads to an increase in electrolyte pressure inside the battery, and as a result, its leakage through non-regular openings.

How to clean the battery terminals

It is known from the school chemistry course that an alkaline environment is needed to dilute the acidic medium. And this means that oxidation (acidic medium) can be eliminated with baking soda (alkaline medium) or a solution based on it. You can also use the carbonated Coca-Cola drink (this is not a joke at all, but a verified fact).

Remove the battery, then immerse the terminals in a soda solution. At the time when you will remove acid with soda, you can observe a boiling reaction, with the release of a small amount of heat.

If the “crust” of the white coating is thick, then first you need to remove it by scraping off with a knife, a piece of fine sandpaper, a metal brush, or other sharp object. It is necessary to clean the place where the electrode and the terminal are in contact, paying particular attention to the inner surface of the terminal. Only you need to act extremely carefully, no matter what damage the insulating sheath of the wire. It is also advisable to wear rubberized gloves - this will protect your hands from exposure to aggressive substances. Before scraping the plaque, it is better to place the battery on a rubber mat - this will protect your floor from debris.

Before installing the battery in place, perform a thorough inspection of the housing, check the level, as well as the density of the electrolyte.

It happens that car owners are advised to use gasoline as an oxide solvent. To do this, soak rags with gasoline and wipe the terminals and electrodes until the white plaque is completely removed. Do not forget that gasoline is a flammable liquid. Be careful: in addition to dissolving oxide, gasoline is able to dissolve the plastic and rubber parts of the car.

Before fixing the tip, it is necessary to lubricate the terminal area and the area inside the tip with a non-thick layer of technical petroleum jelly, solid oil, or with special silicone grease, having acquired it in the car shop. By the way, the last option does not attract dirt, unlike the previous two.

White plaque on the battery terminals is not a cosmetic defect, oxidation of the terminals affects the quality characteristics of the battery, as well as significantly reduces its uptime. No need to delay the solution to the problem of oxidation of the terminals, as this can lead to a failure of the entire electrical system of the car. If the battery does not work correctly, an additional load is created on the generator, and this is fraught with its breakdown. To avoid disastrous consequences, and if you are not ready to constantly replace the battery, carry out the above methods to combat the oxidation of the terminals regularly, in order to prevent. And then your battery will thank you with a long and trouble-free life.

The habit of lubricating the battery terminals from oxidation has been inherited from our grandfathers.

Let's try to figure out how effective this protective measure is, whether it is worth using it on modern car batteries in general.

Natural oxidation

All substances in the air, where there is a lot of oxygen, enter the process of oxidation, or oxidation. Lead, namely, the battery terminals are made of it, from this point of view it is not very susceptible to oxidation, there are weaker metals, take the same copper.

However, we can observe unoxidized lead (shiny) only during stripping of the battery contacts. After a few minutes, it begins to darken, that is, to oxidize.

In the natural oxidation of lead, there is nothing to worry about, the film of lead oxide is very thin, it is easy to destroy it by slightly moving the terminal. In addition, it is almost impossible to allow 100% protection against oxygen, except by placing the battery in a pressure chamber. Even thick greases such as antifreeze and solid oil let oxygen particles pass through.

Acid destruction

This type of chemical reaction leads to the formation of a “snowy” white coating on the battery terminals. In addition to the not quite aesthetic appearance, plaque introduces additional transition resistance at the contact point, leads to the destruction of the terminals, and can cause leaks.

Where does the acid come from? In most cases from the battery. Served batteries have technological holes for filling the electrolyte and controlling its level.

Video - what to do if the battery terminals are oxidized:

Almost all car batteries are equipped with a gas exhaust system. If these zones are leaky (the gas outlet is always leaky if a gas outlet pipe is not connected to it), during operation, electrolyte vapor is released through them.

This is especially evident in the warm season, although under the hood of the car it occurs even in winter after twenty minutes of movement.

Even more frightening in terms of acid release is the process of overheating the battery, especially boiling. This is possible in the following cases:

  • destruction of the plates of the battery cells,
  • short circuit of the cans of the battery,
  • wrong (recharge),
  • lack of natural cooling of the battery in the warm season.

Appearing white deposits on the battery terminals represent lead chloride. This is a fairly aggressive environment, especially for electrical connections. If you do not remove it in time, it will “eat” the contact in a couple of months, and in such a way that it may not be subject to restoration.

Salt destruction

Russian roads are still sprinkled with sodium and potassium salts in the winter. The composition of modern means of protection against icing is an industrial secret, at least for motorists.

But all mixtures in the composition with water vapor and impurities of other substances on the road ultimately envelop all parts of the car, including the battery contacts.

Salt plus water is an excellent electrolyte, and where there is electrolyte, metals and voltage, there is an electrolysis process. It is slowly destroying metal parts.

Electrolysis cannot destroy the massive battery terminal, but it is possible to make a change to the contact zone.

Cleaning as a method of struggle

The easiest and most reliable method is the timely removal of plaque, cleaning the battery terminals.

Technical advice: no matter what means you protect the battery terminals, at least once every six months (preferably at the borders of the winter and summer seasons), clean the terminals mechanically.

This will save you from problems starting the engine, leakage processes and heating of the contacts. In order to clean them, it is necessary to unscrew the crimp bolts, it is better to completely disconnect the terminals. Then moisten them with alcohol-containing liquid and wipe dry.

If not available, a solvent diluted with water can be used. It is more fireproof, and the aggressiveness of the solvent is also reduced.

To remove possible residues of stubborn acid from the terminals, you must use a soda solution (a tablespoon of soda in a glass of water). If the acid does come in contact with the metal, small bubbles will appear during the treatment with a sponge or cloth moistened with a solution. After washing with soda solution, wipe the terminals with a damp cloth.

In no case should you use WD products for cleaning. They, in addition to oil, contain conductive aggressive cleaning agents of an unknown composition to the consumer. WD tools are highly undesirable for processing electrical contacts.

It is also impossible to use acetone for processing electrical contacts; it even corrodes metals.

Further cleaning is carried out using fine sandpaper, it is possible on a paper basis. Pretreatment of heavily soiled terminals can be done with a metal brush. Special brushes are available for such work.

Video - how to clean the battery terminals:

The ideal result is a shiny surface, not necessarily perfectly flat. Lead is a soft material, therefore, at the time of crimping the terminals, the contacts will receive maximum contact.

After mechanical cleaning, a natural question arises: how to maintain the perfect condition of contacts between routine maintenance? The answer is simple: protect the terminals with aggressive materials from various materials.

For this, various lubricants and other materials are used.

Litol, solidol

Издавна в качестве основных материалов для защиты от агрессивного химического воздействия использовались твердые смазки: литол, солидол, жировая смазка.

Для защиты клемм АКБ, в основном, использовался солидол или литол. Это токонепроводящие смазки.

As a result of the processes of thermal expansion of contacts and mechanical joints, these lubricants gradually penetrate into the intercontact zone. Over time, it penetrates into almost all internal cavities of the contact zone.

In addition, at large temperature differences, as well as in the process of natural wear, the technical characteristics of lithol and solidol change: they harden. As a result of this, a disturbance in electrical contact is possible at once.

Recommendations for those who decided to use lithol or solid oil: during routine cleaning of the contact (at least twice a year), a complete lubricant change is required, i.e. removing old and applying new grease.

Silicone Grease

Excellent lubricant in all respects for processing electrical connections. But only when buying it, you should pay attention that it is without conductive additives (manufacturers usually warn about this on the bottle).

Lubrication is different in that it does not just delay aggressive media, it repels them. It’s like a fur coat that repels cold.

For processing battery terminals, grease is only suitable for complex applications with other materials. It is applied to the treated clean surfaces, then proceed to the mechanical connection of the parts.

The main disadvantage of lubrication in terms of battery terminal processing is fluidity. Over time, the silicone grease leaves the contact.

If you use silicone grease, it must be injected regularly, then with a rag to remove grease that has not fallen into place from the contact area. A bit troublesome.

Graphite grease

Some motorists used graphite grease to process battery contacts, justifying its use with conductive properties. However, this grease has a high resistivity and, in the absence of a metallic electrical terminal contact, passing a high current through itself can lead to heating and even ignition.

Use graphite grease to treat battery terminals not allowed .

Special tools

Now a lot of tools are being produced specifically designed for processing terminals for automotive batteries. We will not describe the benefits of using specific brands, manufacturers themselves are doing pretty well on this.

Video - how can the battery terminals be lubricated so that they do not oxidize (MS-1710):

On the tubes of these processing agents there are instructions for their use. Of course, such remedies are better than grandfather's solid oil, although they are also based on an oily medium, usually petroleum jelly.

Spray lubricants are very convenient.

The process of applying protective agents to battery contacts

Having decided on the material for the protective coating, proceed to its application. To do this, first perform mechanical cleaning (see above).

After the terminals are cleaned, it is better to pre-treat the contact areas with silicone grease.

Which is better? Here the opinions of auto electricians differ. In favor of the first, the fact is that under the terminal there are in any case air cavities, if grease gets into these places, it will only get better.

However, if you frequently disconnect the terminals, for example, to recharge the battery, it is better not to apply grease to the terminals.

When using branded lubricants, the instructions will indicate how to apply them.

Unfortunately, sometimes motorists encounter difficulties when starting the engine. Far from always the “problem” is connected precisely with engine malfunctions. More often this happens due to oxidation of the battery terminals. They can be cleaned independently and quickly enough.

The first thing to do if the engine is running is to turn it off. This way you eliminate the chance of accidentally shorting the wiring. Then you need to understand how the battery leads are located:

  • They can be located on the sides of the battery. In this case, to remove them, you need a key of 8.
  • The terminals can be located at the top of the battery, then a 13 or 10 key is needed.

The next step is to loosen the nut at the negative and positive wiring terminals. After that, you need to remove the terminals from the battery terminals. It is advisable to check the battery for electrolyte leakage and cracks. If defects are found, the battery should be completely replaced. Similarly, you need to do with the wires and the terminals themselves. They may wear out during use.

Then we take a special spray or cleaner for the battery terminals, it can be purchased at virtually any auto store in Moscow. It is advisable to choose products that have a special acid indicator. They are the most convenient to use. We apply this substance to the terminals and, if necessary, carefully clean it using improvised items, for example, a toothbrush or fine sandpaper. It remains only to wash off the remnants of the solution or spray with clean water, and then wipe the treated area dry. For reliability, experts recommend lubricating with a technical petroleum jelly or protective compound all exposed metal parts of the terminals. After that, we connect the terminals to the battery terminals.

We clean the terminals of the car battery from oxidation quickly

Weaken the bolts with a key and remove both terminals.

As you can see, there are quite a few raids.

Sprinkle the battery poles with plenty of ordinary baking soda.

We spill the sprinkled places with a small amount of ordinary water.

Let stand for a while to pass the reaction. If necessary, add more soda.

Again, we spill everything with water until the reaction products are completely removed.

As you can see, the terminals and poles simply and quickly cleared even without mechanical stress.

Wipe the terminals, poles and the entire top of the battery dry with a dry cloth.

We clean the terminals and poles in any convenient way to remove possible residual oxide and thereby smooth the surface.

We process a protective spray. You can buy it in car stores. This will prevent the further appearance of oxide for a long period.

We dress the terminals, tighten the bolts.

The battery connection unit is operational and ready for further use.
This method was based on sprinkling soda directly on the problematic compound, but there is still a similar method when soda is dissolved in water and this solution spills oxides.
If there is a lot of oxide as in this case, then in my opinion it is better to use spillage, since it can create a large concentration of soda on the surface, thereby increasing the reaction rate. If there is not much plaque, then the solution will be a better choice, since they can easily spill the entire surface of the battery to remove not only oxides, but also the remnants of the splashed electrolyte.

Battery Maintenance Recommendations

To keep the battery in constant readiness, I recommend wiping with a soda solution the entire surface of the battery at least once every half a year. This simple procedure will remove all oxides, splashed electrolyte from the surface. Thus, the terminals will have a low transient resistance, and a clean surface will minimize self-discharge caused by contamination.