How to Clean Corroded Battery Terminals

lady wearing blue denim and a black shirt looking at her bike wondering how to clean corroded battery terminals in a garageIf your bike has been sitting in storage, you’ll need to run through your battery maintenance checklist before hitting the road. A critical element of a battery’s function is the condition of the terminals. By learning how to clean corroded battery terminals, you can keep your battery functioning safely and properly, and extend your battery’s lifespan. That isn’t specific to just two wheels. Your car battery terminals also benefit from regular maintenance.

Battery terminal corrosion can also destroy your battery cables over time. Furthermore, it can cause a spark to damage your battery terminal, which could lead to a battery rupture in a worst-case scenario. Before we get to how to clean it, let’s cover how this problem starts in the first place.

What Causes Battery Corrosion?

The most common cause of battery corrosion is when the battery acid causes a chemical reaction with the metal of the terminals. Corrosion typically looks like a flaky layer of brown, white, or green discoloration that sits on your battery terminals.

It’s important to note the color of the buildup collected on your terminals because it indicates the difference between corrosion and sulfation.

What’s the Difference Between Corrosion and Sulfation?

Although these two processes produce relatively similar-looking discharge, there are a few key differences between corrosion and sulfation.

  • Corrosion occurs when the battery acid reacts with the metal terminals. It is brown, white, or blue/green in color.
  • Sulfation occurs when lead sulfate crystals build up on the battery terminal because the battery is not maintaining a charge. It is usually grey in color.

It is important to identify the difference between these two chemical reactions because corrosion can be easily removed as part of a regular maintenance routine. At the same time, sulfation typically indicates more serious damage to the battery. When a battery reaches the sulfation stage, the best thing to do is to replace the battery.

Steps for Cleaning Corroded Battery Terminals

While it’s not always possible to prevent corrosion, it’s easy to clean off. Cleaning corroded battery posts is easier than it sounds.

You will need:

  • Acid-resistant rubber or nitrile gloves
  • A wire brush
  • Baking soda & water to form a paste
  • Shop rag or paper towel
  • Tools to remove your batteryman in blue nitrile gloves removing battery from a motorcycle to clean the battery posts; negative terminal and positive terminals with a terminal cleaner after removing the positive cable and negative cable.

Follow these easy steps to get your battery back into peak condition:

  1. Make sure your motorcycle is turned off, then you can remove the battery after disconnecting the negative cable and positive cable from the terminals.
  2. Avoid touching with your bare hands and use a wire brush to clean the terminals of the majority of the corroded material.
  3. Using a rag, apply a paste made of water and baking soda. This acts as a base to neutralize the acid.
  4. Scrub the baking soda mixture into the terminals using your wire brush. You can also use a toothbrush if you want to get more detailed.
  5. Wipe off any excess solution from the terminals with a rag or paper towel.
  6. Let your battery dry completely before reconnecting the terminals to your motorcycle.

man in blue gloves using a screwdriver to replace battery in a motorcyle after cleaning terminals

Overall, removing corrosion from your battery is an easy way to keep it in safe condition and get the most out of your battery. Complete this process after long periods of storage to ensure a complete connection between the battery and the machine.

How to Prevent Motorcycle Battery Sulfation

Corrosion is a natural side effect of the function of vehicle batteries, and as such more difficult to prevent. However, preventing sulfation is possible with proper maintenance, to an extent. Make sure you use a battery maintainer to prevent the battery from becoming too deeply depleted over long periods of storage. This is because the lead plates that become lead sulfate during the discharge cycle are turned back into lead during the charge cycle. So, if the battery is discharged too deeply without being recharged, sulfate crystals will build up and cause sulfation.

Maintaining your bike’s electrical system and keeping the terminals free of corrosion are both good ways to prevent sulfation and extend the life of your battery. It’s also important to note that using a high-quality battery, like any product from Yuasa’s AGM series, will provide reliable power for longer than other battery brands because of the sealed lead acid, AGM design slows the release of gas and preserves the liquid inside.

Yuasa battery charger maintainer

Whether you store your bike for long stretches of time or ride throughout the year, taking care of your battery terminals is an important part of battery maintenance. Checking in periodically on the condition of your terminals can go a long way toward improving the lifespan of your battery and provide you with a more reliable ride.

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