What Cause Car Battery Terminal Corrosion?

There are several factors to cause your auto battery corrosion.

A look at the traffic buildup during the rush hours is an indication that the number of people buying new cars has continued to increase. The truth is that these pieces of machinery are slowly becoming a must-have. Today, you can rarely find a homestead without a car or two. Well, owning a motor-vehicle is fantastic as they come with loads of benefits.

Now, imagine the world without cars. It feels impossible to live in such a society because we’re now used to having cars help with our daily errands. Every car model comes with a price tag as you will have to incur the cost of repairs and maintenance now and then.

The car’s battery, for instance, is one vital component within a vehicle and that can interfere with its smooth operations if ignored. Say, for example, cases of battery terminal corrosion are shared among car owners. If not careful, the corrosion can block your EV from performing effectively.

What causes battery terminal corrosion? Car battery corrosion is caused by several factors among them hydrogen and electrolyte leakage within the battery. The corrosion may also be triggered by overcharging the battery or corrosion in the copper clamps.

Unfortunately, some factors, such as the weather are hard to avoid. Therefore, the best remedy remains initiating ways necessary to help prevent the corrosion from occurring in the first place.

To understand the causes of this whitish or bluish substance on your battery, you first need to know what it is and how to clear it.

What is Corrosion?

Have you ever lifted your hood only to catch a glimpse of corrosion on your battery terminal? Well, you may ask what corrosion is. Corrosion in this scenario is that whitish or bluish substance you may find around your battery terminals. The corrosion may form after several years of driving your car with the same battery.

The corrosion may also be found on the battery’s cable ends. The substance not only creates an awful sight but also triggers problems such as slow starts or even kills the cell. Therefore, it’s advisable to understand the problem in detail from its causes and how to clear it off.

Here Are Some of the Common Causes of Battery Terminal Corrosion

1. Hydrogen Gas Leakage

As you’re aware, your EV’s battery has acid inside. The acid is typically turned into electric current through a chemical reaction. It’s this electrical current that your car needs to run, as well as, power accessories such as headlights and audio systems.

The acids found in your battery can produce hydrogen gas during the chemical reactions. In return, the hydrogen gas formed can mean harm to the battery if it finds its way to the atmosphere. The hydrogen gas reacts with other substances in the atmosphere and can trigger corrosion on your terminals.

It’s advisable first to observe the side of the terminal at which the corrosion forms to come up with a cure. For instance, if the stubborn substance tends to form on the negative terminal, it’s an indication that you’ve been undercharging your battery.

If the corrosion is concentrated on the positive terminal, it’s a sign that you’ve been overcharging the battery. You’re likely to find the corrosion on the negative side of your battery as most cells suffer from undercharging.

2. Electrolyte Leakage

This problem is shared among lead-acid batteries. If your car’s battery is damaged and has some cracks, they may trigger the formation of the whitish or bluish substance you see on the terminals. The electrolytes found in your battery can leak through those cracks and reach the battery terminals and thus corrosion. Flooded batteries have a high chance of corroding.

The reason is that while you’re busy filling the battery, the electrolyte may find its way out and into the battery’s terminals and hence corrosion. You can prevent all this from happening by sealing all the cracks within the cell. Also, you should resist from overfilling you battery with water to stop the electrolyte from jumping out.

3. Too Much Water

As stated earlier, too much water can mean harm to the battery. Adding excess water to the cell increases the chances of your battery’s electrolyte coming into contact with the terminals. In return, the excess water can cause corrosion. You must, therefore, stick to the standard amount of water as described on your battery’s specifications.

Learn How much water should you add in your car battery.

4. Corroded Copper Clamps

Mostly, copper is used to connect the battery to the wires. This metal is known to be a good conductor and doesn’t destroy quickly. Copper itself is non-reactive. The problem arises when current passes through it as it leads to the formation of copper sulfate.

Copper sulfate is that bluish precipitate you’re likely to find on your battery terminals. Copper sulfate isn’t a good conductor of electricity. Therefore, unless cleared, the bluish precipitate (copper sulfate) is what causes problems when starting your car.

5. Old Age

Like many other items, batteries don’t last forever. They too have a timeframe. Therefore, your battery may have corroded terminals as a sign that it’s old. Old age is known to be among the leading cause of corrosion among cells. Therefore, you should ask yourself, is my battery past its life cycle? If you find the answer to be yes, don’t hesitate, call for a replacement.

6. Overcharged Battery

As stated earlier, overfilling the battery with water can see the electrolyte leak into the outside and cause corrosion. The same case happens when you charge the battery excessively.

Overcharging a battery sees the electrolytes get charged on kinetic energy and overflow outside to the terminals. The charged electrolyte can, in return, cause corrosion on the positive terminal of your battery.

8 Steps to Clear the Battery Terminal Corrosion

By now, you’re aware of the common causes of battery terminal corrosion. Well, your next step should be to know the tactics needed to clear away the stubborn precipitate. By digging shallowly over the internet, you’ll realize that the surest ways to do away with the corrosion are cleaning.

Cleaning the terminals can be done using either locally available items or professional items designed to clean a battery. Whatever cleaning method you choose, ensure that you’ve gloves with you to avoid damages that may be triggered by the acid found in your cell. Without saying much, here is a step-by-step guide on how to do away with the whitish precipitate.

1. Your first step should be to locate the battery under the hood of your car. Some vehicles have their batteries placed in a unique position and thus hard to find. Also, in the recent past, EVs tend to have different and small battery designs. Therefore, locating them can be hard for new drivers.
2. Once you find the battery, it’s time to disconnect it from the wires attached. Disconnecting a battery can be hard, especially if the buildup of corrosion tends to be much.
You may require some pliers to unscrew those corroded nuts. Once you unscrew, remove the battery clamps starting with the negative one followed by the positive one. You must remember to follow this procedure as it prevents your battery from shorting.
3. After disconnecting the clamps, it’s time to scrub away the corrosion. If you’re using the readily available items, you can start by pouring baking soda around the battery terminals and cable ends. If you’re into professional-grade supplies, spray the terminals with a battery cleaning spray.
Ensure that the terminals are covered entirely with baking soda or battery cleaning spray. Continue to sprinkle some water on the baking soda and allow the reaction to take place. Pouring water on the baking soda triggers a chemical reaction and thus bubbles.
Allow the process to take place until the bubbles stop forming. Formation of bubbles is an indication that there is some acid present around the terminals. If you’re using the professional supplies, allow the spray to change color before respraying the area. The spray helps neutralize the acid present.
4. Once you’re sure that the terminals are free from acid, it’s time to do the cleaning. Use a brush to clean away the affected area. You shouldn’t forget to work on the cable ends as they hold corrosion as well.
5. After you’ve cleared the bluish substance, you must remember to rinse the cleaned areas with some clean water. Cleaning the field helps ensure that affected areas are cleaned thoroughly.
6. Proceed and wipe the battery dry.
7. Smear some petroleum jelly or grease around the battery terminals and cable ends. The oil helps prevent corrosion from forming in the future.
8. Reconnect the battery clamps to get the car started. When reconnecting the terminals, you must remember to start with the positive clamp followed by the negative one. This step is also vital as it helps ensure that safety of your battery. Once the clamps are reconnected and screwed tightly, you’re free to start the car.

If you like to know more about this topic, click this page to learn.

Note: When working around the battery, ensure that you don’t touch metal objects, even the car’s body as this can cause battery shorting.

Sources:
1. Here’s The Deal With That White And Blue Crap On Your Car’s Battery Terminals – Jalopnik
2. What Causes Car Battery Corrosion and How to Fix It – All Car Brands List, Logo, Company Names & History Of Cars
3. What Causes Automobile Battery Corrosion? – It Still Runs