Car Won't Start? Try Cleaning Your Battery Terminals Blog

Car Won’t Start? Try Cleaning Your Battery Terminals

Battery corrosion is a very common yet debilitating occurrence under the hood of your car. Too much corrosion build up will hinder the delivery of power from your battery to the rest of your vehicle, which means it could prevent you from starting your car! If your lights are dimming, your radio sounds like it’s struggling, or your vehicle seems to have a hard time getting started, check out your battery terminals before assuming you need to replace it. If it looks as though there’s a lot of grime and buildup around the terminals (the posts where those big cables connect to your battery) then you’ve identified the culprit. The best part? It’s really easy to clean them yourself!

There’s two ways of going about this: the more professional approach and the desperate, don’t-have-any-tools approach...


  • Take it to a shop and have someone else do it. Easy! Done! 

Do it yourself because your El Cheap-A-Skate:

You will need: 

  • Gloves
  • Baking Soda
  • Hot Water
  • Toothbrush or wire brush (don’t need this if you have a battery terminal cleaner)
  • Cool Water
  • Paper towels
  • Wrench to remove battery terminals from battery (for the thorough method)
  • Wire brush OR battery terminal cleaning brush (for the thorough method)

Here we go…

  • Step 1: Put your gloves on!
  • Step 2: Mix one tablespoon of baking soda with one pint of hot water and mix thoroughly
  • Step 3: Pour this mixture right over your terminals. Don’t worry about getting it in the car or on the battery - it’s safe.
  • Step 4: Let the mixture sit for a little. It will fizz and bubble – that’s OK. After a minute, start scrubbing with your toothbrush, wire brush, or battery terminal cleaner
  • Step 5: Pour cool water over the battery terminals to remove the fizzing baking soda mixture.
  • Step 6: Dry off with paper towels, and voila! If you want to be more thorough in your cleaning, move on
  • Step 7: Remove the NEGATIVE battery cable first, THEN the positive battery terminal with your wrench.
  • Step 8: Clean both the terminals and the cables with your battery terminal cleaner brush.
  • Step 9: Re-attach the POSITIVE cable, then the NEGATIVE cable
  • Step 10: Dry off with paper towels, and you’re done!

For the desperate, no-tools, rest-stop method, you will need:

  • A can of Coca-Cola
  • A toothbrush
  • Some clean water
  • Paper towels
Here we go…
  • Step 1: Pour the can of Coke all over your terminals (for real)
  • Step 2: Wait one minute, then scrub away with your toothbrush
  • Step 3: Pour water over your terminals to clear them off
  • Step 4: Dry them off with a paper towel – All done! Very easy, very refreshing! There’s plenty of how-to videos on Youtube to show you how to safely and effectively do this as well :)
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