Posted under Car Battery

Maybe one evening, you notice your vehicle’s headlights are a little dim. Or perhaps your vehicle is suddenly slow to crank. You pop the hood, and there it is: a buildup of white, green, or blue material on the battery terminals. It’s corrosion, which happens over time because of the battery’s chemical structure.

Don’t panic. It’s a common problem that’s not hard to fix. But don’t ignore it, either! Because of the essential role the battery plays in your vehicle’s starting and charging system, it must operate optimally. As car battery corrosion builds up, it can interfere with battery performance. So, let’s learn about car battery corrosion and how you can remove it safely.

What is Car Battery Corrosion?

Battery corrosion is a buildup of a white, blue, or greenish substance usually surrounding the battery posts, terminals, or cables. So, what causes this corrosion to form? Over time, the battery’s sulfuric acid releases small amounts of gas. When this gas contacts the metal terminals, it reacts with the oxygen in the air to form sulfuric acid crystals. These crystals then combine with moisture in the air to create that colorful powdery substance known as battery corrosion.

Why Car Battery Corrosion Is Detrimental

Battery corrosion is more than just a messy substance. It can severely affect your vehicle’s electrical system in two major ways:

  • Diminished battery performance: The battery stores the electrical energy the starter motor and alternator need to operate. Corrosion is a poor conductor of energy, so if it’s allowed to build up, the battery can’t function as it should. Problems like slow cranking during start-up, dim or weak lights, and a clicking sound when you turn your key in the ignition or press the starter button. If you don’t address these issues promptly, you could find yourself stuck on the side of the road with a dead battery.
  • Shortened battery life: The average life expectancy of a new battery is four to six years. Corrosion can prematurely damage and even destroy the battery post(s), and if you want to keep rolling, you may need to replace your battery sooner than you expected had you taken the time to clean the car battery terminal.

How to Clean Car Battery Corrosion

We’ve explained why car battery corrosion is bad. Now let’s cover how to remove it. Before you attempt to do it yourself, remember safety first!

  • Make sure the engine is turned off and has had time to cool down.
  • Disconnect the battery cables.
  • Always undo the negative cable first, then the positive cable (important: refer to your vehicle owner’s manual for instructions).
  • Always wear goggles and rubber gloves.

When it comes to cleaning a car battery, there are two popular methods: store-bought chemical cleaners or the greener, DIY method. 

  • Chemical cleaners: Many brands are available, and you can easily find options at auto parts stores or a retailer with an automotive department. Generally, you spray the cleaner onto the terminals and cables and wipe the corrosion away. Directions for each brand are different so please take a moment to read and follow as recommended. 
  • Green DIY method: You can make a cleanser by thoroughly mixing a tablespoon of baking soda into a cup of hot water. Dip an old toothbrush into your homemade solution and scrub away the corrosion. If the corrosion proves too tough for your toothbrush, you can buy a battery terminal cleaner brush designed specifically for this purpose. Wipe away the mixture with a soft, clean towel and allow the battery to dry completely.

Stop by Your Local Jiffy Lube for Battery Services

Not everyone has the time or the inclination to scrub away battery corrosion under the hood. That’s okay! You can always bring your vehicle to Jiffy Lube® for battery maintenance service. Trained technicians will take the following steps to thoroughly inspect your battery: 

  • Perform a routine battery inspection to ensure the correct charge
  • Minimize vibrations by making sure the hold-down secures the battery
  • Fill the battery with water to optimal levels (if possible)
  • Check for signs of leaks or corrosion and, if found, recommend the next steps to correct the problem

The technician will present the results of the battery inspection to you, and, as always, welcome your questions because we are committed to providing you with information so that you can make decisions about your vehicle maintenance.


NOTE: Not all services are offered at all Jiffy Lube service centers. Please call ahead or check to ensure the service is available at the Jiffy Lube location near you.