How can you keep your battery terminals nice and clean.


Question from Paul Colbert:

Everytime I hook up my battery cable to the battery post acid starts to gather around the connection.

I noticed that when I take my "other cars" in for servicing some shops put some white grease type of goop there.

My questions

  1. what's the grease?
  2. does it conduct electricity so I don't have to worry about degrading the metal to metal contact with the battery post and clamp?

Answer from Scott "Gonzo" Weaver:

This is one everybody should know about......

Ok the first thing the "goop" on the posts. That's an old truck drivers trick to keep the battery post and clamps from getting acid on them.. The "goop" is nothing more than grease. It does not carry any electrical potential at all, however there is a draw back to this way of thinking. One of the main purposes of grease or oil is to maintain dirt and particles in solution, in other words when dirt is place onto the grease, the grease keeps the dirt from making contact with the actual surface that it is on. (keeping it in solution) The problem is that to much "dirt" over a period of time saturates the grease and with the help of ultra violet light the grease breaks down and becomes a hard crusty nasty mess....

Also you mention, why does my battery post always seem to gather acid and corrosion.... mainly because its metal and not the plastic case of the battery.

Here's some tips that we use here at my shop...

  1. We do not use grease or oils on the battery post. Rather a good clean dry connection. Exceptions are anything that maybe in contact with water a lot such as boat batteries then we will use a thin film of grease. NOTE: some grease and oils have low fire temp ratings, some
    oils/greases can ignite with very little spark...... keep that in mind......
  2. Use baking soda and water mix to clean the clamps and general battery area. This will remove all the acid and residue. Also use the same "cleaner" on the battery itself. Wipe the whole area (including the battery) before reassembly. Repaint as necessary before installing. NOTE: on V-Dubs we will usually put a plate of cardboard under the battery to help soak up any spills when they happen. Cut the cardboard to the size of the battery so that it does not show.
  3. Copper conducts electricity better than a lead, and since the "fumes" from a battery cannot be completely halted, give the acid "fumes" somewhere else to go.......... to copper rather than your lead battery post. (a US penny works very good for this) just place the copper near each post and then once in awhile replace it. In some cases you'll actually not even find the penny either someone has stolen it or it has been totally consumed by the battery acid.

Ok I'm done.... good luck Gonzo