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Last updated on April 17th, 2021
Inspecting battery terminals is another routine battery maintenance practice besides measuring specific gravity of battery acid and adding distilled water. It involves cleaning the battery terminals and posts to remove corrosion residues. You also check the integrity of electrical connections to the battery to ensure they are nice and tight. Otherwise, you might be staring at a potential fire hazard due to the sparking of loose electrical connections.
What causes corroded battery terminals?
The terminals of lead-acid batteries corrode due to chemical reaction of the hydrogen discharged from the battery and atmospheric air. This corrosion leaves behind white or bluish deposits of metal sulfates. Mostly, the deposits form around the positive lead but they can also appear on the negative terminal.
When corrosion occurs on the positive terminal, it may mean that the battery is overcharging. It can also mean that you are not drawing as much current from the battery as your should. So, it might be good to turn on the stereo or fog lights on long trips. It may help to maintain a balance between the charging and discharging of the battery.
On the other hand, when the negative terminal corrodes, it means your battery is not charging fully. You may need to check service the battery, check the alternator and the electrical connection to the battery. If all looks fine, changing your driving habits to incorporate longer trips may solve the problem. Long trips give an alternator enough time to charge up the battery. Alternatively, you can reduce the number of accessories drawing power from the battery. This may reduce the battery charging time.
Signs of corroded battery terminals
Sign 1: Whitish or bluish substance on the terminal posts should tell you that the terminals of your lead-acid battery are corroded. This is the easiest way to detect terminal corrosion. Sometimes the sulphate residues form on the battery clamps.
Sign 2: Another symptom of corroded battery terminals is the car failing to start. When your car fails to start, battery terminals should be the first thing to inspect. The build-up of corrosion residues around the terminals of a battery increases resistance. Asa result, a voltage occurs around the corroded terminals. If the drop is huge, your starter may not get enough voltage to turn over the engine.
Sign 3: The third sign of terminal corrosion is worn-out terminal posts. The reaction around the terminal post wears off the battery posts causing them to become smaller and smaller over time. As a result, the terminal ends become loose leading to the fourth symptom.
Sign 4: The fourth symptom of corroded terminals is a loose connection to the battery post. When the posts wear off, they become smaller. This causes the clamps to become loose. So, if you are always tightening the battery clamps, there is a chance that corrosion is eating away your battery posts.
You can tell that the terminals of your battery are loose if you see or hear some sparking. This can be either because you did not tighten the terminals properly or your battery posts are shrinking in size due to corrosion.
What to do if a battery has corroded?
The good thing is that you can keep the battery terminals from corroding by cleaning them regularly. You can use homemade solutions such as a paste of baking soda and water, commercial battery terminal cleaner spray, or scrub with an old toothbrush. Better still, you can clean the corroded terminals more professionally with a battery terminal cleaner tool.
What is a battery terminal cleaner tool?
A battery terminal cleaner is a special tool designed for scrubbing clean the battery posts and terminals. This tool has at least a wire brush for scrubbing the surface of the terminals to remove any build up of sulphate or oxide material. You can also use it to clean the battery clamps to restore the luster. Other battery terminal cleaning kits also include anti-corrosion fiber washers.
In this article, I share with you the 5 best battery terminal cleaner tools. These inexpensive tools help keep the terminals and posts of your battery clean to avoid charging and discharging problems. Furthermore, keeping the battery clean extends its life.
5 Battery terminal cleaner tools reviews
|LotFancy Battery Terminal Brush||Schumacher Terminal Cleaning Brush||Performance Tool Battery Terminal Cleaning Brush||Lisle Battery Terminal Cleaner||Supercrazy Battery Terminal And Post Cleaner|
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LotFancy Battery Terminal Cleaners – Best Overall
The Lotfancy battery terminal cleaning tool kit is a cut above the rest. It includes two pieces of battery terminal cleaners with both male and female brushes and a dozen of color-coded anti-corrosion fiber washes. That’s a Lot Fancy, isn’t it? It is all you need to keep the terminals and posts of your vehicle’s battery free of corrosion.
The tool is compact and only measures 79mm from top to bottom. The male brush is 35mm in length while the female brush has a 16mm internal diameter to get around a wide range of battery posts. The bristle brushes in the female brush are stiff to remove the oxidation layer in every twist.
The anti-corrosion washers have an internal diameter of 20mm. This is the standard size for many car battery terminal posts. The felt pads are made of quality fiber material which absorbs and retains battery sealer longer to protect your battery for a prolonged period.
The only downside of this kit is that the female brush and felt pads are too big to fit smaller batteries like lawnmower batteries. But they work well for car batteries, marine batteries, golf cart batteries, and RV batteries among others.
Schumacher Terminal Cleaning Brush – Best value for money
The Schumacher battery terminal cleaner tool has a compact size just like the LotFancy. The only difference is that you only get one tool and there are no washers. But you pay half the price.
The tool has both male and female wire brushes. The male brush cleans battery terminals and the battery posts that are not round while the female brush cleans round battery poles. The bristles are chrome plated to prevent rusting, which is what makes the tool stand out.
The Schumacher terminal cleaner brush for batteries has one major downside. Its bristle brushes are so soft that they bend when used on a larger battery pole. This makes them less effective on smaller poles. For example, if you use the female brush on the positive terminal (larger terminal) they will bend and may not work effectively on the negative terminal (smaller terminal). That is why I suggest you have two post cleaners; one for each battery post.
Performance Tool terminal cleaning brush
The performance Tool metal battery terminal cleaning brush is another excellent tool for cleaning battery posts and terminals. It is a lot like the Schumacher cleaner.
The small gadget has two sides; the top part with a cone brush for cleaning terminals and the bottom part with inner brush for battery posts. It is perfect for cleaning top post batteries.
The brushes are made from hardened steel and encased in a stainless steel housing to protect them from damage. They are dense and stiff which enables them to get rid of corrosion and dirt from terminals and posts in just a few seconds.
The only problem with this tool is that the brushes can bend permanently when you use them on larger battery poles.
Lisle 11400 Terminal Battery cleaner – Best for side terminals
If your battery has side terminals, the Listle battery terminal cleaner is the perfect tool. It has a heavy plastic handle and a good design to let you clean side terminals than with a top terminal brush.
The bristles of the wire brush are stainless steel and are densely packed to clean effectively. The main advantage of this tool is that it is a universal fit. This means you can use the same brush to clean posts and terminals.
The downside is that you have to apply a decent amount of force when cleaning. Also, although the tool is designed for universal use, it does not do a perfect job on top battery posts than side posts. So, you might as well consider Lisle 11120 Battery Brush for top battery poles.
Supercrazy Battery Terminal And Post Cleaner Wire Brush Tool
This wire brush for battery post and terminal leaves your posts and terminal shining. It scrapes off lead and dirt crazily just as its name. Just as the other battery brushes for top battery posts, the little tool has an external brush for terminals and internal brush for battery posts.
The bristles are stainless steel and they don’t flatten on the first use. However, they do flatten over time. Another downside is that in some of the tools, the cover for the male brush gets stuck. This can be annoying.
Experiencing hard starts? It could be a loose battery connection.
After cleaning battery terminals, make sure the electrical contact to those terminals is tight and snug. A loose battery terminal can prevent your battery from charging properly. And when this occurs to your car battery, you can experience a hard start or a prolonged cranking time before the engine starts. This can be very frustrating especially when you are in a hurry.
A hard start is a common problem in cars. It can occur due to many reasons including a weak electrical spark, insufficient fuel supply, and/or insufficient air in the combustion chamber. That being said, battery-related problems such as loose or corroded terminals are the most common causes of a car’s hard start.
When the terminals of a car battery corrode, they cause the electrical connection to become loose. As a result, the starter motor does not receive enough current to crank the engine, causing a hard start. A loose battery connection can also cause other electrical car accessories such as the lights and the AC system to malfunction due to insufficient current supply. To sum up, a loose battery connection reduces the effectiveness of a battery.
Loose terminal clamps can also cause sparking around the battery post. This can become a potential fire hazard. For instance, if your car happens to have a leaking fuel line around the loose terminals, a fire explosion may occur. Furthermore, the hydrogen released through the vents of lead-acid batteries is flammable and could be ignited by sparking on the loose terminals. Therefore, it is important to tighten clamps on battery posts to avoid potentially dangerous electrical and fire hazards. Also, keeping the battery terminals clean ensures a good connection.