Car battery maintenance

After boosting my wife’s 1993 Toyota Corolla I cleaned some corrosion and miscellaneous gunk off the battery posts and cable clamps.She claims the car now runs more smoothly than it has in ages. Does this make sense or is it just the psychological syndrome in which a car seems to “appreciate” any care – even a wash?

If it does make sense technically, would it be worthwhile to proactively clean the posts and cables yearly before winter and maybe even again six months later just before summer’s air conditioning season? The job took less than 5 minutes. Any chance of it improving gas mileage? Thanks

It’s a placebo effect. Doesn’t hurt to keep the terminals clean though. But while running, the alternator maintains the voltage. Battery doesn’t do anything but sit there and charge

It is considered normal maintenance to provide such battery car every six months, spring and fall. No, it will not make your car run better. The idea is to head off certain problems before they can occur, particularly failure to start.

While I can think of some very shaky theories how it might have a real effect, frankly I believe it is the same as smoother running after and oil change or car wash. Placebo

Agreed. You’ll find your battery lasts a lot longer if you A: Keep your charging system in good shape by cleaning the terminals periodically and replacing the battery cables when needed, and B: Never let the battery go completely dead or sit without activity for long periods of time.

All good answers but let me add: First, I trust you removed the battery terminals before you cleaned them (also at the starter end too) and then replaced them wrench tight.

After the terminals are cleaned and replaced, apply a coating of dielectric grease to the terminals to ward off moisture.

Look for and remove/clean and replace wrench tight any or all ground connections too. Don’t forget the engine to chassis ground.

This is a good idea for any vehicle in any location, but especially good when in a road salty environment like Ontario or some of the northern US states,

Like Steve mentioned, regular preventive maintenance is key.

I rented an escort that shuddered in the rain until I tightened the battery terminals.

Another really good and cheap investment is to purchase those red and green felt pads that you place over the battery posts (if you have a post-type battery). The circular felt pads go on the battery first setting on top of the battery case. Remove battery cable terminals. Clean posts. Clean circular terminal ends. Put felt pads on. Place terminal ends on posts. Properly secure terminal ends. No more corrosion at the battery. Continue to periodically check positive terminal connection at the starter. If you decide that that connection needs cleaning, disconnect the negative terminal at the battery first. Get yourself a small bottle, cup, whatever. Put a teaspoon of Baking Soda in the cup. (I use old, clean yogurt containers). Fill with water and stir it up a little. Dip the cable end in the soda/water mix. Leave it there until it stops bubbling. Daub the stud on the starter with a small rag. Keep daubing until bubbling stops. This cleans the terminal really well but you might still have to use a small brush to get stubborn corrosion off. You can do the same at the battery with eack terminal end. I also carefully daub the battery terminals using a rag. Don’t get any of this stuff into your battery. The baking soda neutralizes battery acid. Once your wet rag and battery posts stop bubbling, carefully rinse with clear water. Hook everything back up and check in 6 months. You’ll be amazed! Quick, cheap maintenance.

Someone told me that you could even use soda, like coke or pepsi, to clean the battery terminals. Is this true?

I had a car recently refuse to start due to a dying battery. The terminals also had a lot of white, powdery corrosion on them. I was stuck with out jumper cables. But, I had a Coke in the cup holder. I managed to wiggle the terminal loose, used some Coke and an old rag to clean the terminal, and wiggled it back on tight. It worked just good enough to get it started, although it was still really slow.

But, when I clean the terminals right, I use a paste I make with Arm & Hammer baking soda and an old toothbrush. The bi-carbonate will neutralize the acid that causes the corrosion. Also, it helps scrub the stuff off with an abrasive action

Yes, baking soda and the old toothbrush are the old stanbys. Like the man syas, disconnect all the cables first.