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

Page 2 of 3  


Well my tester also measures charging voltage and it seemed ok...

Interestingly, I took one of the cars into Advanced Auto Parts today and they had some "fancy" (proprietary they claimed) computerized battery tester that supposedly does all types of things that a standard 100A load doesn't test. And that battery tested just fine - it measured a voltage of 12.79v and a CCA of 574 (vs. rated 582). I was surprised because I was almost sure that they would have "rigged" the test to sell more batteries so that just about any 4 year old battery would test bad. But the guy was nice, helpful, and surprisingly honest....
While the screen and printout were pretty cool, not sure I believe it does all that more. Also, not clear to me how you can measure CCA at all accurately when the ambient temperature is not 0F but I assume it does some type of temperature adjustment since the screen and printout had a temperature measurement on it (though since it said 73F, it seemed like maybe it was the room temperature of 73F where the machine was stored and not the outside temperature which was in the low 40s - though maybe there was a temperature probe in the battery connection and that was the under the hood temperature).
But in any case, if the store selling batteries tells me my battery is good, it seems like it probably is.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I'v eheard 13.8 volts. That sounds high.
--
Christopher A. Young
Learn more about Jesus
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Mon, 22 Mar 2010 23:38:54 -0400, "Stormin Mormon"
I used to say that too, but too many people told me it should be higher. So I'm not sure anymore.
Here I only center posted because you topposted.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 03/23/2010 12:34 AM, mm wrote:

13.8 is a minimum for a running "12V" car
nate
--
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
http://members.cox.net/njnagel
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 3/21/2010 7:02 PM Mikepier spake thus:
>

Second that emotion. Clean (and yes, baking soda is good to neutralize the acid crud), then smear ordinary wheel-bearing grease on it.
--
You were wrong, and I'm man enough to admit it.

- a Usenet "apology"
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Yes, if there's enough I believe it conducts electricity and will slowly drain your battery. Or maybe even quickly at some point.

I pour 5 or 10 heaping tablespoon's worth, I'm guessing, of baking soda from the box on to the top of the battery and then pour water, usually warm water from a tea-kettle, on top of that, slowly to not wash it off before it neutralizes the acid. When it stops bubbling, it's done, and I wash the rest off with the rest of the tea-kettle.
HR Bob's is the correct method but you asked for easiest/fastest, and as far as I know, mine works just as well. Maybe the other method is meant for shops which will keep a bottle of solution around to do more than one car.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
mm wrote:

That is a good first step, if you have baking soda around, and reduces the chances of trashing your favorite shirt. But you STILL need to take the connections loose and clean the terminals. And one step I forgot in previous post- lots of fancy stereos don't just lose the station settings when battery is removed- they lock themselves down in anti-theft mode, and can only be unlocked with the special code. Check your owner's manual to be sure. If you don't have the magic number, they sell a 9v battery thing that plugs into cigarette lighter to keep the radio alive.
--
aem sends...

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Keep in mind that such a device won't work if the ciggy lighter is switched by the ignition key.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

Oh yeah, I forgot to say something about that. Probably because I haven't needed to do that for a long time. I think those red and green felt washers must be responsible. I haven't had much in the way of dirty batteries since I started using those.
But the OP can get a good terminal brush at an autoparts store, with one brush to clean inside the terminal and another brush to clean the outside of the post, all in one convenient tool.

Very good idea. My friend got the code from the dealer, even though she bought her car used from somewhere else.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

True. without that specific tool, as a young man a pocket knife worked nicely. I've cleaned many battery terminals and cable connections with just a pocket knife. Cranked the truck and left the swamp - more than once.
The OP should " clean car battery terminals " <G>
Nothing wrong with new tools!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

- What are those "red and green felt washers"? - Are they some after-market product that I can buy?
- Also, what causes this accumulation of gunk? - Where does the "gunk" come from? - Does it mean the battery is leaking? - Does it cause permanent damage to the battery? - Does it mean the battery is nearing the end of its lifespan?
- Other than "red and green felt washers" is there anything I can do to prevent such build-up in the future?
Thanks for ALL the helpful replies...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I don't know that the washers really work... I have a non-sealed battery in my pickup truck and it still gets a little cruddy.
I'd recommend using Vaseline or Sil-glyde on the terminals and also put a "battery mat" underneath the battery to keep from rusting the tray out. Just this past weekend I removed the battery tray in the pickemup to assess what hardware was corroded, and I've ordered replacement hardware, some POR-15 to paint the tray, and a couple battery mats so I can put one in each vehicle.
I'd also recommend slathering the clamp bolts with anti-seize so the nuts don't seize up on them. It'd be nice to find some stainless battery bolts but I forgot to check to see if McMaster-Carr had them in stainless the last time I ordered.
nate
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Yes, they used to be a dollar a pair. Maybe a little more now. I'm sure they have them at "real" autoparts stores but they have them on display usually at consumer autoparts stores like Pepboys.
I know some people don't think they work, but my personal impression is that they work great. There have been some battery changes that might possibly have made battery problems get less frequent but I'm pretty sure I bougth the washers when I didn't change my battery and there was a big improvement with the same battery. Put the red on positive and the green on negative. I use the same washers for years. It *is* a little hard to believe they don't wear out, use up their chemicals, but who knows. All I know is I don't have gunk problems anymore, and only use baking soda once every year or two or three.

The liquid in the battery is sulfuric acid with a little lead dissolved in it. The gunk is some sort of sulfate, with maybe, I don't know for sure, some lead sulfate. That's why it's yellow, from the sulfur.

No. It does mean some acid got out, but that's not the same thing.

No. There's loads of acid still left inside. It doesnt' take much acid to make that crud.

No. It's not like a flashlight battery's leaking.
About 20 or 30 years ago they came out with No-maintenance batteries, which couldn't be opened to add water, and which also I think meant that the acid coudn't get out. I lost track of whether these things were as good as they said. Ialso lost track of whether there was some small vent for each of the 6 cells in a 12 volt battery. I think there was. I think they used a slightly different acid or plate chemistry.
A couple years after that, they came out with Lo-maintenance batteries, that looked like No-maintenance, in that there seemed to be no caps for the cells, that the battery coudln't be opened to add water. But they had just redesigned the caps, put 3 caps together (and used two of them, for a total of 6 caps) with a very low profile and no apparent place to lift, so they looked like No-maintence, and I think the chemistry was slightly different so it was not necessary to add distilled water as often as it used to be. And maybe voltage regulation of the charging system had gotten better, because charging with too high a voltage causes water to evaporate from the electroyte, which is water and acid. Anyhow, it's true, I think, that one doesn't have to add water to batteries nearly as often as one used to. I'm not the best example of maintenance, but I only check the battery ever couple years. I never needs much water, if any.

Be sure to tighten the terminals tight enough, but not too tight!! :)
I haven't looked for stainless steel bolts, and I did once in 45 years have the bolt rust through, largely because of the battery acid, but they sell replacement terminal bolts, and it was easy to replace it.
But once or more I havent' tightened the bolt enough. When it is at all loose, that makes it more likely the crud on the outside will get up between the post and the terminal. When it's properly tight, it either doesn't or it takes longer, not positive. So one time, I'm driving and the car stalled and I was taking a friend to catch a train so I didn't want to waste time. I touched both terminals and one was hot. That's because it was loose. I just turned it left and right as much as it went and then tightened the bolt and the car was fine after that. It wasn't actually that loose, and there was none of the visible crud, but maybe there was something else.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

BTW, I keep an open box of baking soda in the fridge, to reduce odors, but the fridge had a label that it had a special finish that woudln't retain odors. I don't know if is special or not. It's a whirlpool fridge. Nonetheless, I keep it there. For one reason or another, I don't smell odors.
I've been using the same box for 27 years :) and the only time the amount in the box decreases is when I clean the battery, which has only been about 10 or 15 times in the last 27 years.
Some people use baking soda for baking.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

-Is it recommended to also completely remove the battery from the car or is it enough to remove the connections and do it in place?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I clean it in place.
--
Christopher A. Young
Learn more about Jesus
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I clean it in place too. It's fine that way. Someone called attention to your subject line. I pay little or no attention to those and only look in the body of a post, but you did emphasize terminal in your first post too, yet I concentrated on crud.
If there is crud right on the terminal, right next to the where it touches the post, it might be under the terminal too. It's probably a good idea to remove the cables and clean the posts and inside the terminals too.
Remove the ground first. The one with a - symbol on the battery (not a + ). Now the symbols can be hard to see, and in all recent cars the plus terminal is the one whose cable goes to the starter motor or a solenoid. The negative terminal goes to a bolt on the engine. It's the negative, the ground, you want to remove first. This seemed counter-intuitive to me, but if your wrench touches the body of the car while you're working on the negative, nothing will happen. Then after the neg is disconnected and you are using your wrench on the positive, and your wrench touches the body of the car, nothing will happen. If OTOH, the negative was still connected, there would be a big hot spark, enough to melt metal, at least a small amount. So disconnect the ground, the negative, first. If you're not sure, there might be a label somewhere, or someone with a meter or who knows cars can tell you which is the negative.
If that doesn't work, clean the battery once without disconnecting it and then maybe you'll be able to see the + and - symbols, although they can be on the side where it's hard to get a good look, or obscured by the terminals.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
blueman wrote:

Take a flashlight and look down alongside the battery, and see if the tray is painted metal or plastic covered. If painted metal, and you see rust when you peek down there, good idea to pull the battery and repair as needed. (paint, reinforcement, etc.) It can ruin your whole day if you are driving down a bumpy road, and the rusty hold-down bolt breaks, and the battery bounces and shorts out against the inside of the hood. BTDT.
Yes, I grew up driving junk. (Why do you ask?) But on a young car, cleaning in place is usually fine.
--
aem sends...

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Wow - that sounds quite unlucky - so just out of curiousity what were the symptoms and results you observed from the broken-free battery and short?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
blueman wrote:

Magic smoke, and car no worky. (Magic smoke is what makes all electrical devices work- you let out the smoke, and the device doesn't work any more.) Dead short across the battery fried the fusible link in the feed cable, like it is supposed to. A little blacksmithing on battery tray, a new hold-down clamp (the old tall kind, not the modern low clips) from the junkyard, a new fusible link segment and some compression connectors, and it all came back to life. This was a pre-electronic-everything car, mind you. Hate to think what it would do to a modern rolling computer.
--
aem sends...

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

Related Threads

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.