How to Clean an Oxidized Battery Terminal


Oxidation and corrosion can reduce the cranking power of your battery. It can also drastically reduce the life of your battery, requiring premature replacement. There is no set service interval for battery terminals. Instead, they should be checked frequently for signs of oxidation and corrosion, and cleaned when necessary. Use a battery terminal protectant to help reduce the likelihood of having corrosion or oxidation on your battery terminals.

Things You'll Need

  • Pliers
  • Wire brush
  • Battery terminal treatment
  • Battery terminal protectant (optional)
  • Gather the tools needed to clean the battery terminals. There are several methods of cleaning a battery terminal and several tools you can choose from to help you. The ideal method to clean the battery terminals is by using a battery terminal tool. These tools are small and usually have four arms for different sizes of battery posts. If you can't find a battery terminal tool, use a wire brush and a battery terminal cleaner, both available at any auto parts store.

  • Pop your hood and disconnect your negative battery cable. After you disconnect the negative battery cable, disconnect the positive battery cable. Move the cables to the side to avoid them getting in the way.

  • Place the tool on each battery terminal and twist it to remove the corrosion and oxidation. Wipe the shavings away with a dry cloth.

  • Use the wire brush and battery terminal treatment to clean the terminals if you don't have the battery terminal tool. Apply a small amount of the treatment to the terminals and scrub them with the wire brush. This method is effective, but will require more effort. Once the terminals are completely clean, wipe away any shavings or reside with the dry rag.

  • Apply the battery terminal protectors around the base of each terminal to prevent future corrosion and oxidation (optional). These protectors will help slow down the process and reduce corrosion or oxidation in the future.

Tips & Warnings

  • For a homemade battery terminal treatment, use baking soda and a little bit of water.
  • When reconnecting the battery, connect the positive cable first, followed by the negative.

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