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Corrosion on battery cable- how to clean or just replace?


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6 replies to this topic

#1 ttt

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 09:27 PM

Hi there,
New to Subarus and don't have a ton of experience working with cars. I've got a 94 Legacy wagon (although my problem isn't really model specific). I just got the car a few months ago. It had been running fine with no problems.
A couple days ago my car simply had no power when I turned the key. No radio, lights, nothing. After simply fidgeting with the battery cable connected to the positive terminal, the power was restored and I was able to start the car, although the engine sounded sickly. I examined the battery more closely and I found corrosion as evidenced by the two photos below:


Sorry for the gigantic images. How do you resize them? I'm copying the link from photobucket and can't find a way to reduce size (tried [IMG width=200] etc and it no longer recognized it as a photo).

[IMG]http://i1054.photobucket.com/albums/s498/itaylorwb8/IMG_0408.jpg[/IMG]

[IMG]http://i1054.photobucket.com/albums/s498/itaylorwb8/IMG_0409.jpg[/IMG]

So, since jiggling the cable seemed to partially resolve the problem and there is corrosion as seen above, I'm pretty sure the problem is localized to the cable. My basic question is whether there is any point trying to clean this, or if the entire thing has to be replaced. I should say it will be replaced very soon anyway, but I'm a new grad student and for the next few weeks until I get another pay check I'm more broke than I will probably ever be again (literally, I have $3 to my name right now). Also the terminal isn't looking too great. I assume that needs to be swapped out as well?
Basically, I'm wondering if it's worth trying to get a cable like this into working shaped. If not, I don't want to endanger myself driving something that will randomly lose power, and I'll just take the bus until I can properly fix this.
I should also say the PO replaced the battery about a year ago, so it should be in fairly good shape.
And since I'm thinking about battery maintenance, in the future, to prevent corrosion like this from happening, I've read that cleaning the battery well and often can prevent formation of these corrosive deposits. I've read baking soda dissolved in water will remove deposits- should I clean my battery regularly with this solution even in the absence of deposits? Or is there another cleaning agent I should use for regular maintenance?
And I've read diametrically opposing views on whether vasoline is an acceptable coating for the the battery posts. I was wondering what your opinions of that is. I could buy a special product if it is better, but if something cheap and readily available is effective, then I'm in favor of it.
Anyway, thanks for your opinions.

Edited by ttt, 14 April 2012 - 09:44 PM.
getting photo links to work


#2 shortysayhi

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 09:29 PM

Take it fully apart and steel wool to clean it? Also make sure the contacts that wrap around the batter terminals are super clean. even tho my advice is simple it might work?

#3 Idasho

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 09:32 PM

Dont bother cleaning it. There is bound to be more corrosion inside the cable itself.

Find yourself a quality replacement, and make sure all contacts are VERY clean prior to reassembly.

#4 ttt

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 09:46 PM

Yeah, that's what I thought- just replace. I'll price new cables etc. Looks like I'll be planning an impromptu Craigslist sale.

#5 jp98

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 09:08 AM

I would also just replace it but you should clean the top/sides of the battery. Make up a solution of Arm and Hammer baking soda and water and poor it on to the battery. You may even want to use a soft brush to work it in and to get the crud off of it. You will be surprised at how cleaning it will help its general health.

#6 MilesFox

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 09:33 AM

Replace the terminal itself with a brass marine terminal with a wing nut. This way, you can disegage the cable from the battery without boogering the post, and it gives you something to connect electrical accessories to. Avoid the cheap lead terminals that you have to cut the end off to replace it.

I have replaced mine with the brass terminals.

the corrosion there is a result of the condition of the battery. Clean with coca cola and use dielectric grease.

#7 Rooster2

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 11:50 AM

Replace the terminal itself with a brass marine terminal with a wing nut. This way, you can disegage the cable from the battery without boogering the post, and it gives you something to connect electrical accessories to. Avoid the cheap lead terminals that you have to cut the end off to replace it.

I have replaced mine with the brass terminals.

the corrosion there is a result of the condition of the battery. Clean with coca cola and use dielectric grease.


Yea, pouring on coke or pepsi will clean off the terminal, repeat several times for best results. Then wash off with lots of water to get rid of the sticky liquid. If no dielectric grease available, use white lithium grease to prevent further corrosion build up.




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