Should I clean car battery terminals? and if so how?

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Perhaps not technically home repair but my car is like an extension of my home...
Anyway, I noticed that there is a lot of "crud" (grainy white/green stuff - looks like dried toothpaste) on the positive (red) terminal of my car battery.
Car otherwise works & looks fine.
Question: - Is it important to clean the crud off? - What is the best & also easiest/fastest way to do it?
Thanks
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Its a good idea to prevent future problems. Just remove from the battery terminal, clean with a wire brush, then put some grease, or some battery terminal coating on it and your good to go.
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If you wash it off, use a baking soda solution to neutralize the acid.
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hr(bob) snipped-for-privacy@att.net wrote:

I think it's the reverse: the crud is alkaline. It can be washed off and neutralized with vinegar or, more easily, with Coca-Cola.
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On 3/22/2010 7:19 AM HeyBub spake thus:

Since the battery innards are acid, the crud is too.
Try it yourself: sprinkle some baking soda on a wet battery top and you'll see it fizz.
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The car batteries I've used were acid. It's very possible that Coca cola helps clean the terminals, though.
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Back in the "olden days," all we'd do was an occasional washing of the terminals with baking soda and water. Occasionally, and especially with a new battery, a liberal application of Vasoline mixed with baking soda would keep the terminals in like-new condition. My next door neighbor had a Vasoline/baking soda bottle that he claimed dated from his return from WW2, that he kept in the garage and used occasionally on his auto battery terminals.
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On Mon, 22 Mar 2010 19:28:21 -0400, "Stormin Mormon"

The "crud" is actually a salt which can be washed off with water. If left on the battery terminals it will begine to attack the teminal clamps/terminals.
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It is definitely not alkaline!!!!!
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Mikepier wrote:

If crud is growing, you definitely wanna clean it. It can make the battery last longer (due to less current leakage), and more importantly, it can save you from being stranded in cold weather or if you leave the lights on for a couple of hours.
For the wire brush part, stop by your local auto parts house, and buy a battery terminal brush, especially if you have a top post battery. The brush only costs 2-3 bucks, and makes it a lot easier. It snaps apart, and has a bottle-brush looking side to clean inside the connector, and a cylindrical brush to clean the post. It'll be on the shelf right next to the goop to put on the terminals after you clean them to slow down them getting gunked up again.
Important note- wear old work gloves and an old shirt when you mess with car batteries. Even the dried crud on top can still eat through fabric the next time it goes through the washer. Try to do the cleaning dry, and brush yourself off well when done.
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Could this explain why my battery died on a cold day after keeping the radio on for about 30 minutes even though the car had just been driven for about 45 minutes and even though the battery tested good under a tester with a 100A load?
And just yesterday (which was in the high 40's) my other car ran down the battery while cleaning it for about an hour with just the radio and door lights on?
Cars (and battery) are about 3-4 years old and never had such problems in previous years.
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Yes. A soon-to-die battery with, say, one bad cell will take a charge and run ok fer a days or even weeks. If you drive it daily and don't start it too often, it will seem to be ok ....for awhile. As the cell gets worse, so does the battery. The only true way to test a battery is with a battery electrolyte tester, testing each cell's electrolyte. That's why I will not buy a truly sealed battery. Many look like they're sealed --no caps to remove to check electolyte or add distilled water-- but the caps are usually under a strip of plastic that can be removed with a little effort. If even one cell starts to degrade, it's time to start looking for a new battery.
There are expensive electrolyte testers and there are inexpensive one's. The cheap ones are usually small and have 4 plastic balls in them. These are more than adequate. I've used them for years, even when I was a professional mechanic. If all 4 balls float, yer good. If even one ball sinks in one cell, that battery is not long for this car-starting world. ;)

Almost all car batteries in the USA are made by Exide. The more you pay, the longer they last. Also, keeping one in good condition --terminals clean, tight, charging system working, etc-- will also increase the battery's longevity.
nb
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wrote:> Almost all car batteries in the USA are made by Exide. The more you

After working at the auto department of a Montgomery Wards store that sold Exide batteries, I have never purchased Exide since.
Johnson Controls makes batteries also, and those are a good choice but the best battery on the market IMHO is the Optima, those suckers are really tough and tent to last far longer than their warrantee.
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Do you know who makes Delco batteries? Those were always pretty good.
nb
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Interstate does a much better job than anyone else of keeping their inventory charged and rotated. You do pay a bit for a better battery, though.
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notbob wrote: ...

...
As far as I know, ACDelco still manufactures...
<www.acdelco.com>
may have more poop...
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This all sounds fine and dandy, but batteries contain acid. Doesn't that acid burn on your balls if they sink?
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Maybe the battery is good but the charging voltage is low. Have you measured it. Should be about 14.5 iirc. If too low, it won't put enough into the battery, even a good one.
Maybe the charging voltage is low because the fan belt is loose that powers the alternator. Or maybe their is tension thing for a serpentine belt and the spring is getting weak.
How do these ideas sound to you guys? Because I'm having the same problem described above, and I have to try to fix it soon.
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mm wrote:

Stop by pretty much any local auto parts store, and take advantage of their free charging system check. Try to go when it is slow, not on Saturday morning when the lot is packed solid, so the tech is willing to spend more than five minutes on it.
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wrote:

A good idea, but it will be difficult for me to do that when I'm going to fix it myself. I'll feel like I'm taking unfair advantage of them, even if they say there's no commitment.
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