Auto Service Tip: Buying a New Battery

Why Do the Terminals on Your Car's Battery Corrode?

If you're in the habit of inspecting your car's engine compartment on a regular basis, you may occasionally come across some green or blue deposits around the battery terminals. While you may casually remove these deposits with a wire brush, why should you pay closer attention and understand what's going on?

Time for Maintenance

As you may know, a typical car battery is recyclable and will need to be changed from time to time. Nevertheless, you will also need to perform some maintenance if you want it to last as long as possible, and you need to pay attention to those deposits, which are a sign of corrosion.

If this corrosion builds up to a certain point, you may not be able to start the vehicle, but why is it there in the first place?

Identifying the Problem

Occasionally, hydrogen gas (a standard byproduct produced by the battery) can escape into the atmosphere. As it does, it will react to the connections and terminals as well as salt or moisture in the air. This corrosion may be evident on one or both terminals and may also be a sign of an underlying problem. If the corrosion is found around the negative battery terminal, this may tell you that the battery is undercharging, which could be due to problems with the alternator. However, if the corrosion is present on the other terminal, the opposite could be true, and the battery may be overcharging.

Avoiding Corrosion

In an ideal world, you should avoid all types of corrosion as this may shorten the battery's usable life. Have a mechanic check everything to see if the alternator is working properly and ensure that the battery is always receiving and supplying the right amount of power.

If you do come across corrosion, get rid of it as soon as possible. Instead of simply trying to sweep it away with a wire brush, use a battery cleaning agent instead.

Cleaning the Battery Properly

To properly clean a battery, you will need to remove the cables, starting with the negative one. Ensure that the cables are still in good condition and there is no evidence of cracking or deteriorating insulation. Get a cleaning agent from your battery provider and spray it onto the terminals. This will get rid of the corrosion and may neutralise battery acid on the surface. Once you've done this, dry everything off and reattach the terminals.

You can also talk with your battery provider to see if they can supply you with special anticorrosion protectors. These will sit on top of the terminals and provide additional protection.

Talk to a car battery provider near you to learn more.