Car Battery Cleaning and Safety

tired old car battery
Tired Old Car Battery

Car battery cleaning and safety are two important issues to address for car owners that like to get involved in the maintenance of their own automobile. When I say involved this does not mean you have to be a full-fledged driveway mechanic.

Performing some of the easier tasks yourself can increase the reliability of your vehicle as well as reduce trips to the auto repair shop. A few weeks ago I wrote a post about car battery maintenance issues. You can visit the post to get all of the details, but basically it discussed why batteries go dead and how long you can expect them to last.

Since these issues affect many drivers I thought I would take it a step further by providing links to the needed tools as well as discuss how to prolong the life of your battery by cleaning it. More importantly to identify the of working with batteries and provide some safety tips. When in doubt let a professional do it.  Ask them to show you how, so you can do the next battery service.

Car Battery Safety

exploded car battery picture
Exploded Car Battery

When you are servicing or troubleshooting your battery all operations must take place under the safest working conditions possible. The danger comes from the sulfuric acid and the explosive gases generated by the battery during its normal charging and discharging cycles.

It’s rare that a battery will explode but I have seen it and it is not pretty. I’ve also seen coworkers suffer eye damage when proper safety was not followed. The most recent incident didn’t even include the battery exploding.

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A coworker rubbed his eyes with his fingers covered with battery corrosion. Although he’s expected to make a full recovery he could have avoided a lot of pain and suffering by wearing gloves and safety glasses.

Working in a well ventilated area is one of the most important safety tips when working with car batteries. You do not want hydrogen gas to collect above the battery surface. Setting up a fan to blow across the top of the battery is a great way of preventing this.

Also remember do not smoke near the battery and watch out for Sparks or flames from lighters or matches. Even sealed maintenance-free batteries have vents that can produce enough hydrogen gas to cause problems. This is why before you pop the hood you want to make sure you have your safety glasses on.

You also want to make sure you never lay any types of automotive tools such as wrenches or ratchets on top of the battery. This can cause current to flow as well as Sparks. When you are going to perform a battery cleaning service it is a good idea to disconnect the ground cable first and then the positive lead.

Cleaning Your Car Battery

replace the battery
Replace the Battery

If you are going to clean a car battery that has built up corrosion on the terminals it is a good idea to neutralize the corrosion using a solution of baking soda and water. This can prevent damage to the sheet metal surrounding the battery compartment.

After you remove the terminals from the car battery you can spread them gently and dip them in that same baking soda and water solution. It’s a good idea to purchase a cleaning tool specially designed to clean the terminals and connectors on your type of battery. Some use a side post design and others use the top post configuration.

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The most common kind have wire bristles designed to clean these areas. After you finish the cleaning you can rinse down the top of the battery with the remaining baking soda and water solution. And then dry the top of the battery with a disposable towel.

I recommend before you reassemble, that you apply terminal protector to both the terminals and the cable ends. When reconnecting the battery it’s a good idea to install the positive terminal completely. Next connect the negative cable end. Performing the operation in this order produces less arcing.

Final Battery Replacement Tip

As a final tip if you plan on replacing the battery I recommend that you use a special lifting tool or strap to pull it from the tray. In some applications the battery fits very tight in the compartment. It is critical to lift it straight out without tipping it so that fluid does not come out of the vents. If you need more information on replacement I built a page on my other website about car battery problems and replacement guidelines.

Thank you for visiting and I hope you found this post useful. You can see the latest posts and get some more auto repair information here.