Aside from the normal oil changes and tire pressure checks, there are other vital components of your vehicle that deserve regular maintenance to prevent issues that could occur at any time. Battery cables and terminals may not be the first you think of when you think about car maintenance, but they are just as important as checking fluids, brakes, etc.
Like anything else, battery terminals and wires can become corroded or loose, and it’s important to check up on them to prevent battery related issues. Ultimately maintaining your battery’s properties will be easier than having to fix an issue on the road or when you’re going to leave for an important occasion.
Inspecting and Cleaning Top Post Battery Terminals
1. Battery terminals should be inspected and cleaned at least twice a year. If the battery terminals or cables are corroded they should be replaced as soon as possible. The average do-it-yourself mechanic can complete the tasks necessary to clean and replace battery terminals and cables.
2. Begin by removing the terminal caps if your battery has them, and disconnect the negative (black) battery cable. Loosen the nut at the end of the cable and shift the connection back and forth while pulling up to remove the cable from the terminal. If the terminal does not budge, tap it with the end of a screwdriver or the head of a small hammer.
3. Clean the battery posts and the cable terminals with a wire brush until the metal surfaces are clearly clean of corrosion. Follow up with a soft brush to dust off any left over corrosion, and reconnect the cable terminals to the battery. It is recommended to do this at least every six months, but every four would not hurt.
Inspecting and Cleaning Side Post Battery Terminals
1. If your battery’s posts are located on the side, your terminals are typically easier to remove. Loosen the terminal bolt nut and remove the negative cable, and then do the same for the positive cable (red).
2. Take some time to clean the connections even if they don’t appear corroded. Once the corrosion is clear, reconnect the cables tightly. If they’re very corroded, just replace them. If they’re not, clean them at least every six months.
Replacing Battery Terminals
1. If your battery terminals appear corroded to the point they’re deteriorating or the mouth of the terminals are touching, it is time to replace them. While the cables are disconnected, cut the cable near the corroded terminal using a wire cutter. Check over the wire for corrosion, and if it’s severely corroded, trim the wire. Ensure the wire can still reach the battery after trimming the corroded section. If too much of the wire needs trimmed, it will not be able to reach the battery and will need to be replaced.
2. Strip off approximately an inch of insulation before reconnecting any cables.
3. To install a new terminal, remove the screws and insert the wire in the designated port of the terminal. Join the terminal back together and tighten down the screws. If the other terminal needs replaced, do the same. Remember to check on their condition at least every six months to ensure corrosion is not developing.
Video Instructions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sn7BHBGY5xQ