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A corroded Toyota battery found on Long Island, NY.

How to Properly Clean Up Battery Terminal Corrosion

Posted at Fri, Jul 23, 2021 9:00 AM

One of the main reasons for a decrease in vehicle battery life is corrosion. If allowed to build up, battery corrosion can not only cause problems with your Toyota starting, but also cause damage to the car’s wiring and air conditioning. Fortunately, it is not only easy to identify battery corrosion, but also fairly easy to eliminate it (provided you catch it before it gets too bad.) Preventing corrosion and cleaning it away can extend the life of your Toyota’s battery and also improve its performance. To assist you in identifying and cleaning up the corrosion, our Westbury Toyota staff has put together a quick list of tips to follow.

Disconnect the Battery Cables and Inspect Them for Damage

Battery corrosion is quite obvious as it appears as either a blue, green, or white-tinged substance covering the battery posts, cables, or terminals. If you pop the hood on your Toyota and see this kind of substance on your battery, the first thing you need to do is disconnect the battery cables. You will need to do this safely in order to prevent being shocked, so disconnect the negative battery cable (marked by the ‘-’ sign and/or colored black) first and the positive battery cable (marked by the ‘+’ sign and/or colored red) second. A lot of the time, worn down or damaged battery cables can be responsible for the engine not starting.

Any cracks, fraying, peeling, or splitting is considered damage and means that you should replace the cables as soon as possible.

Clean the Corrosion from the Battery and the Terminals

Once you have removed the cables, you can begin working on the corrosion. The easiest way to do this is by using a cleaning agent made specifically for this purpose, but you can also use some common household items such as Coke or baking soda. A brief explanation of some of these methods follows:

  • The special cleaning agent works best on the battery and its cables and for the best results, you should use the strongest grade cleaner. The stronger the cleaning agent, the better it will remove the corrosion and what’s more, it will also neutralize any battery acid.
  • Baking soda also works well for removing corrosion and is a tried and true method used by many vehicle owners. You will need a glass of water, some kind of brush (a toothbrush works well), and a teaspoon of baking soda. Mix the baking soda with the water and then apply that mixture to any of the corroded areas on the battery. Add another coat of baking soda to areas that are badly corroded, and once that’s done you can pour water on the coated spots. This will provoke a chemical reaction and you should see some bubbling. This means that the acid is being neutralized and it is now safe to proceed with cleaning.
  • While many people swear by using Coke to clean battery corrosion, some experts recommend caution. Coke has phosphoric acid and synthetic sugar and those have the potential to cause damage to the engine.

Scrub, Rinse, And Dry

Once you’ve applied the cleaning agent, you will use your brush to get rid of the corrosion. It might be best to remove the battery from your Toyota entirely to make the process much easier. Once all the corrosion is scrubbed away completely, it is time to rinse the battery and the ends of the cables with clean water. You can let the area air dry or use an air compressor to speed up the process.

Practice Corrosion Prevention Moving Forward

Battery corrosion is an inevitable part of owning a vehicle, but there are some things you can do to prevent it from getting too bad, such as using terminal protectors or putting petroleum jelly on the terminals. The best thing you can do is check regularly and clean the corrosion as it forms. In doing so, you will be extending the longevity of your Toyota’s battery while also increasing its performance.

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