How Do You Clean Battery Terminals?

How Do You Clean Battery Terminals?

Clean battery terminals by removing the cables, polishing the terminals and posts with steel wool, applying petroleum jelly and reconnecting the cables. Clean terminals ensure the alternator keeps the battery charged for trouble-free starting.

  1. Remove the cables

    When removing battery terminals, begin with the negative one. Be careful that any tools you use on the battery do not touch other metal parts of the car to prevent electrical arcing. Loosen the terminal bolt, then twist and lift the terminal off the post. If necessary, use locking pliers to help remove the terminal. Once you remove it, secure it in a location where it does not accidentally contact the battery. Remove the positive terminal using the same procedure.

  2. Polish the terminals

    Use soap-free steel wool to polish the terminals and posts, removing the corrosion so the connections are shiny. For heavier corrosion, use a terminal cleaning tool to clean the connections.

  3. Apply petroleum jelly

    Apply a light coating of petroleum jelly or other light grease to the connections to reduce future corrosion. Wipe any excess petroleum jelly from the battery.

  4. Reconnect the cables

    Reconnect the cables, beginning with the positive feed. Tighten the terminal bolt, and attach the negative feed. After reconnecting the terminals, you may need to reset the clock in the vehicle.