The all season battery bible

Hello ALL…I decided to sit down and write up a little “How-To” because SO many problems reported here are due to the basics when it comes to Battery Maintenance. Now that Winter is upon us, we will inevitably see more and more issues related to Dirty Batt terminals and the subsequent issues that follow. This Forum receives HUNDREDS of car questions that are directly related to what is in this tutorial. SO hopefully people will read this and save themselves, their Battery as well as their Sanity. HOPEFULLY this becomes a “Sticky” so that this same advice is not continually given out…over and over again…at least that was my point anyway.

It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT for your electrical system that all of the connections be clean and tight. The issues that arise from not having the connections “in proper order” are too many to list. I can guarantee you that hundreds if not thousands of perfectly good alternators and batteries have been prematurely replaced because of poor Battery Hygene. Not to mention all of the vehicle towing that is totally not needed.

OK… BEFORE any of you get caught in a snowstorm, cold winter night (HEAT/SUMMER is a batterys enemy as well), or the rain with a STONE DEAD BATTERY…PLEASE READ THIS…

Batteries DO go bad with age…they dont last forever…so keep in mind how old your batt is and replace if needed. A TEN YEAR OLD Battery that is working properly most likely does NOT have another TEN YEARS of reliable service to offer you. You DO have a say in how long your batt lasts…it will last MUCH longer (from new) by following this tutorial.

You can go to any auto parts store and buy whats needed here. First obtain a small Battery wire brush…they are usually made of metal and look sort of like a bullet. Cost under 5 bucks. They have both an internal and external wire brush.

Use this tool to clean your battery posts as well as the inside of your battery cable clamps. INspect your cable clamps…are they cracked? If so replace any that need attention…either by replacing the actual clamp or buying an OEM…pre-crimped cable and clamp combo…more expensive but worth it as quality is FAR superior. Once you have wire brushed all these surfaces until they literally SHINE, you should now apply some GREASE to them…and dont skimp. Hell BLOB it on there…you wont hurt anything…and the grease can actually stop or slow battery acid leakage if present. White Lithium Grease is adequate and its nice and clean looking compared to black axle grease. Next you can purchase some of those chemically treated Red and Green “donuts” they go around your battery posts to deal with any acid seepage that may be present. They will prevent any of that WHITE FLUFF you may see around your posts…THIS FLUFF IS BATTERY ACID…DONT GET IT ON YOUR SKIN…CLOTHES…EYES…NOSE…ETC…You get the picture HINT…wet the stuff down with water before it becomes airborn…and you breathe it in!..Yes…it happens…ask me how I know.

IF you see White FLUFF.....there is a chemical in the Battery section that will neutralize this immediately upon contact...  The stuff is usually Red and in a small phenominally.  You can also neutralize this with Baking soda and water.....then hose it all off....get it off your vehicle as it will eat right through it in time.

Now that you have cleaned your posts and clamps and greased everyone…reassemble your battery clamps and tighten them! Not too tight…just good and snug so that you cannot move them with your hand alone. You’re almost done…You REALLY need to make sure ALL Of your electrical connections are treated the same way…so dont ignore your ground cable to the vehicle frame they are just as important as at the Battery…maybe even moreso. Try to treat all of these the same if you can get to them.

Thats about it…you have just ensured that your Alternator has the ability to charge the (good) Battery in your vehicle and keep it properly charged (IF you have a good alternator) These steps will give you the best odds that your vehicle will have a STRONG and Healthy Battery and that the car will start on those COLD days and nights that are around the corner. Many dead or weak battery problems are caused by corroded terminals and posts…Your alternator is trying its best to charge your battery but it cant get the electricity to the battery through all of that corrosion. So your charging system my be working just fine…it is due to poor battery hygene that it cannot maintain proper battery voltage. This KILLS batteries over time…so let just avoid it…OK?

*** If you are finding that your battery cable clamps do not tighten around your Batt posts even when the cable clamp is “Bottomed Out” They actually make “post fatteners” These are usually made of lead and slip over the posts on your battery…fattening them up so that the cable clamp has the ability to squeeze down tight on the post… Hey its better than flattening out a penny to do the same thing…Like my Grandfather taught me to do as a Young Buck…LOL.

The fattening of the battery post is a very important thing…as none of my above advice will work if you then have a loose connection in the end. Just remember that your electrical connections to and from the Batt…Need to be CLEAN…TIGHT…and protected with GREASE… Feel free to add to my list guys if you think I left something out. HOPE THIS HELPS PEOPLE… HAPPY MOTORING !!!

Honda Blackbird

I’d also like to suggest that people should consider replacing their batteries before they die. If my battery has made it through four winters, I’d rather give up the possible last $20 or $30 of value instead of getting stranded somewhere on a cold night.

No one cares I guess? I know its not THAT interesting…but I cant count how many X we have had to answer quesions related to this issue… Anyone Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller? LOL

I’d also like to suggest that people should consider replacing their batteries before they die

I’ve been able to tell when the battery is starting to show signs of weakness. Then I consider replacing it. My 05 4runner is on it’s original battery. Shows no sign of weakness at all. We’ll see when the weather gets colder.

Good write up. Very thorough. I would only add that if you have a maint free battery, look at the cell eye to assist in battery life. Also, if you have the maint battery, keep the fluids full atleast once a year.

My batteries usually last 7-8 years so I try not to change them until they die. Just personal preference.

Thanks for this post.

One other thing that wasn’t mentioned is checking the water/electrolyte level and assuring it’s kept above the top of the plates in the battery.

Only about a month ago I replaced the original battery in my mom’s '99 Grand Marquis.

I’d Make Item #1 - Eye Protection - Always - When Encouraging People To Work On Batteries.

One Of The Leading Causes Of Accidental Blindness Is Car/Truck Batteries. Batteries Can And Do Explode (Think Hindenburg Disaster . . . Hydrogen Gas !).

Batteries have two cables attached. For safety, I’d advise people to always disconnect the battery ground wire first when disconnecting/removing a battery and connect it last when and installing cables/batteries. A spark is less likely following this procedure and burns are less like, too. Don’t ask how I know this.

Since most cars in this country have negative ground electrical systems, the ground cable is almost always the black (-) negative terminal/cable. The (+) positive cable is almost always red. If you’re not sure, find out.

Oh, and that little dual brush . . . they work great on top post batteries. Most batteries in my vehicle fleet have side terminals and that tool won’t fit.


Don’t put grease on the battery posts/terminals. Dirt & grit particles eventually embed themselves in the grease & stay there, defeating the purpose of the coating to begin with. It’s my understanding, also, that depending on the type of substances that the
dirt is constituted from, the dirt will give off oxygen, combining with any ferrous metal (steel through bolt on a lead terminal, the terminals themselves in some cases) to produce rust. Use some kind of battery protectant.

Here’s just one brand:

Since I only drive 2-3 times a week and mostly short trips I charge the battery every 2 months.
I take it out of the car, clean the terminals and clamps.
I charge it overnight on a regulated power supply set for 15 volts, but an automatic charger would do.
If I go on a long drive of 4 hours or more I count that as a charge.

Thanks for the info, I was even more ignorant about battery hygiene than I expected. Since it wasn’t mentioned I’m guessing it’s wrong… someone once told me I should put a little motor oil on the battery terminals to help prevent corrosion. Is that not recommended? Thank you for your help :slight_smile:

Yeah…motor Oil…Grease…or a Batt Post conditioner substance… I’ve been using Greas efor over 20 Yrs…with excellent results…so…

***TOO TOO TRUE Common Sense Answer!!! JEEZ…what was I thinkning?..I guess I should have said that… I always have eye protection on around the battery by default…Its second nature to me…so of course, I forgot to mention it…

YES BY ALL MEANS… PLEASE wear eye protection. Wouldnt hurt to have some gloves on too…Nitrile, Latex…whatever floats your boat people.

ALL of you MUST understand that YOU CANNOT have ANY ANY ANY Sparks or open flame near or around your battery… NO SMOKING PLEASE…


Well keep the ideas coming in guys and I will add it to the writeup…if it needs to be added. This was another reason I posted it this way…A Preview and to collect opinions and updates before it becomes a “Sticky” IF it becomes a Sticky… This still remains to be seen… Perhaps if we vote on it and make it known that we want it to be a permanent item…

Can we have a vote guys? Should we leave this info up here for all to see…All the time? I vote YES… I personally have written many a word on this very issue to try and help people here… I have watched MANY of the regulars write up a similar post trying to assist… SO itt only makes sense that we… taylor this one to become a “Sticky”

Can we get a conscensus?
Do you think my post is accurate?
Was it helpful info for some of you?
Got something to add?

Please post it guys…Lets get this writeup honed so that it can stand on its own…To help others on here…without us writing and re-writing the SAME INFO over and over again…

What do you say?

Oh well…maybe no one wants this to be a sticky…I just thought this info would be useful to all after we collect revisions It should be of use to many…pretty much all the time…

Unfortunately the people who need this info the most will not come looking for it.
They can’t even reach in the glove compartment for the very informative pamphlet in there.

I care, and thanks for taking the time to remind everyone. Its just not something I’m anxious to go out in the garage and do right now. Also, I don’t like disconnecting the battery any more due to the issues discussed in other threads. I’ve got one of those plug in dealies but just never used it yet. I’ll put it on the list though after consulting with SWMBO.

Thanks for the post. I found it informative. While I changed my own battery a couple of years ago (not because I planned to, but because I was misled that the auto parts store guy would do it, and I ended up being a lot more competent with tools than he was), I am leery about doing anything this involved on my car. But it’s useful info.

I KNOW…I certainly understand anyones lack of desire to go messing with their Batt connections… In fact this is one of my LEAST favorite Automotive wrenching activities…But Alas, it is TOTALLY necessary. So if you follow this advice…you are drastically DECREASING the number of times you will have to mess with this stuff. Anywho…I would LOVE to see this become a sticky so that people will read it just like they visit the “Credentials Please” post… When they do…they just may solve a few issues they are having or are destined to have.