One of the most overlooked items on your vehicle is often the battery. Why? You don’t physically see it unless you open your hood. Yet, when you can’t start your car, you will be taking a very close look at it. Don’t wait until that happens. Here is how to inspect it and clean the battery cables/terminals.
A properly working battery is ideal for your vehicle to operate at its best. Over time, though, the battery cables and terminals can build up corrosion and/or your battery could develop a crack. (Here's another article about batteries.)
Inspect The Battery
Before you begin, it is a good idea to find some gloves and face protection. The battery contains an acid that can cause severe damage to your skin or eyes. When you are properly protected with safety equipment, you can begin.
- First, unhook the battery from the cables. This is done by locating where the cable sits on the terminal.
- Using the proper tool, unhook the negative and then the positive cable. The negative is often identified as the black cable.
- With the cables disconnected, lift the battery out of the engine bay and set it on a smooth surface.
- Look over the battery and when needed take a rag and water to clean it off to inspect it better. You are looking for cracks or other damage.
- If you don’t find anything wrong, your battery is good. However, if you find a crack or acid seeping out of it, you will need a new battery ASAP.
Cleaning The Cables/Terminals
There are several different ways to clean your battery cables. Here are some ideas.
- Using a wire brush clean around the cable and terminals. Then, unhook the negative and then the positive cable. With the cables in the open, you can then scrub them clean.
- Another idea is to mix one tablespoon of baking soda with a cup of water. Then, dip a toothbrush in the mixture and clean the cables and terminals. After the tops and sides are clean, unhook the negative and then the positive cables. Then, scrub those new areas. Lastly, spray the cables with cold water to clean the mixture completely away.
- In a pinch, you can remove the cables and pour a soda bottle filled with Coca-Cola or a similar product directly on the terminals. The soda will help break up the corrosion and should allow your cable to make better contact.
With any of these ways to clean and inspect your battery, just make sure you take the proper precautions. The plastic battery may seem like it can’t hurt you, but it is filled with acid.