Perhaps not technically home repair but my car is like an extension of
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.
- Is it important to clean the crud off?
- What is the best & also easiest/fastest way to do it?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
About the time I had mastered getting the toothpaste back in the tube, then
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.
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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