Battery terminals

Submitted: Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 14:12
ThreadID: 133554 Views:3575 Replies:9 FollowUps:14
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Hi all, one of the auxiliary batteries seems to be getting that white powdery stuff around the terminal, just wondering what causes it, and have seen a blue coloured stuff put on them to stop this happening. Don't know what this blue stuff is called, anyone have an idea, think petroleum jelly prevents this build up also, am I right? It's not a major drama, but would like to know the right way to deal with it.. thanks for any suggestions.. cheers Odog
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Reply By: Griff61 - Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 15:26

Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 15:26
The Blue stuff will be battery terminal spray to stop it going powdery. You can buy it in and auto shop in a spray can. I use it all the time.
Cheers
GRIFF
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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 15:35

Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 15:35
The white powder is a form of corrosion.
Mix up a little Bicarb of soda in water and pour over the affected terminal.
Dry with a paper towel and the powder should be gone.
Loosen terminal connection and clean both post and cable connection with suitable wire brush. You can get a battery post/lug wire brush cleaner from most Auto stores.

With clean connections, clamp together firmly and you should have eliminated your problem.
Bill


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Follow Up By: TomH - Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 15:43

Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 15:43
All correct except put the blue stuff on when its all nice and clean and make sure terminals are tight.

Strangely my Cruiser used to do this but my VW which had a new battery today, the terminals are as clean as the day it was bought.

Think it has something to do with slightly incompatible metals in the terminal and the clamp
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Follow Up By: Member - mechpete - Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 15:48

Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 15:48
bi carbonate soda an boiling water
not cold water
cheers mechpete
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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Friday, Oct 07, 2016 at 10:57

Friday, Oct 07, 2016 at 10:57
the water does not need to be boiling or even hot.

cheers
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Reply By: Les - PK Ranger - Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 15:44

Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 15:44
Pouring a little freshly boiled water over that corrosion clears it very nicely too.
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Follow Up By: KiwiAngler - Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 16:14

Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 16:14
One of the issues around pouring JUST boiling water is that the lead sulphate,which is corrosive, just gets flushed off the terminal and down onto/into the battery box where it can continue to corrode and, in time, corrode the bottom out of the battery box.

The best way to do it is add some sodium bicarb to the boiling water.

The sodium bicarb neutralises the lead sulphate - this can be seen by the solution "bubbling" when you pour the bicarb onto the terminal
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 16:22

Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 16:22
Didn't know that, usually just wash it all down thoroughly when pouring it about . . . thanks for the heads up, plenty of bicarb soda in the kitchen.
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Follow Up By: Member - Blue M - Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 22:19

Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 22:19
Drinking 2 teaspoons of bicarb dissolved in a small amount of warm water is also good for indigestion.
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Follow Up By: Whirlwinder - Wednesday, Oct 05, 2016 at 13:13

Wednesday, Oct 05, 2016 at 13:13
Blue M, I did that but still got white corrosion powder at the positive terminal!
Ian
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Wednesday, Oct 05, 2016 at 18:13

Wednesday, Oct 05, 2016 at 18:13
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Hi Whirlwinder,
You cleaned up and neutralised, but you possibly did not cure the fault that allowed the corrosion to form.
See my Reply to Odog below for possible causes.
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Thursday, Oct 06, 2016 at 07:29

Thursday, Oct 06, 2016 at 07:29
Or did Whirlwinder mean he drank the warm water and bicarb, and still had corrosion in his + terminal ? :D
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Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 16:02

Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 16:02
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Hi Odog,

The "white powdery stuff" is Lead Sulpate. It is caused by the battery electrolyte (sulphuric acid) making its way out of the battery and on to the terminals.

In the earlier batteries with vented cell caps this problem was often caused by acid vapour being emitted during charging. This should not happen with modern 'sealed' batteries unless overcharging occurs.

It can also happen if there is a poor seal around the battery post and the battery top. This is not all that unusual and not easy to fix, although rubbing silicon sealant into the joint when clean and dry may work.

The treatment is to wash the battery top and terminal posts with a solution of baking soda and warm water then clean the posts with a wire brush. Exercise safety care whilst doing this. Especially wear safety glasses. Thoroughly wash down the battery and underneath it with plenty of fresh water.

Spraying the assembled terminal/battery post with a proprietary sealant or liberally coating them with grease or vaseline can be worthwhile. One aerosol product is CRC Battery Terminal Protector, and there are other brands also. Available from Auto Accessory shops.

Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Zippo - Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 20:09

Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 20:09
What Allan said, but I recommend removing the battery from the vehicle before doing the treatment. It may be an obvious measure, but some people tend to overlook it. You don't want the wash-off staying in your engine bay.
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Reply By: Member - Odog - Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 16:36

Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 16:36
Thanks all, I'll call into the auto shop and grab some of that terminal spray, and give it all a good clean... I've cleaned it off a few times, but will do it properly this time.. thanks guys.. cheers O
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Reply By: 2517. - Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 17:17

Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 17:17
Generally means batteries are on the way out and need replacing.
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Follow Up By: Glenn C5 - Wednesday, Oct 05, 2016 at 13:03

Wednesday, Oct 05, 2016 at 13:03
Yeh Chuck them over a cliff and get some TERMINAL VELOCITY!!
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Reply By: MUZBRY- Life member(Vic) - Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 18:58

Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 18:58
Gday "O"
I spray my terminals with anything that is at hand, mortein , CRC, wd40.mr sheen or anything else that is flamable , and have been since pressure packs came into vogue. I do the terminals with boiling water first then spray .
Muzbry
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 19:01

Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 19:01
.
Hey Muz, underarm deodorant spray keeps them smelling nice. lol
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: TomH - Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 23:16

Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 at 23:16
Brylcreem makes them look smooth
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Follow Up By: MUZBRY- Life member(Vic) - Wednesday, Oct 05, 2016 at 08:56

Wednesday, Oct 05, 2016 at 08:56
Good morning Allan and Tom
Well thats two things i hav'nt tried, but they are on the list for when i next lift the bonnet,and that could be some time next year. Maybee if i feel that way inclined.
Muzbry
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Reply By: Blown4by - Wednesday, Oct 05, 2016 at 12:54

Wednesday, Oct 05, 2016 at 12:54
The blue battery terminal protector is very good and I can vouch for it from personal use. It is called: WURTH BATTERY TERMINAL SPRAY. Once the terminals are tight on the battery posts, spray them a couple of times allowing 10-15 minutes drying time between coats. When applying the spray and use a bit of cardboard to prevent over spray on adjacent parts. Don't refit any plastic terminal covers until the spray has dried.
The white lead sulphate deposit has nothing to do with the battery condition. It is due to vapour from the electrolyte escaping during charging and getting on the terminal as already stated and the electrolytic action between the dissimilar metals. i.e. Lead battery posts and (usually) brass or copper terminals and copper battery leads.
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Reply By: The Bantam - Friday, Oct 07, 2016 at 11:18

Friday, Oct 07, 2016 at 11:18
Yeh .... seems there are a few people pissing in your pocket here.
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1/ ... if the battery is a sealed type battery you should not be getting much in the way of corrosion on the terminals,
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As has been mentioned ..... If it is a sealed battery and you are getting corrosion is is quite likley that you have leakage around the battery terminal. ....... there realy is no way of sealing this up.
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This may not be a problem in the short term, but in the long term the battery will no longer be sealed and will be loosing gas an vapor ..... so fluid levels my drop .... bla bla bla battery failure.
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Another issue is that this leakage may be due to internal corrosion on the battery post..... this is not uncommon and there is a remote possibility that the battery post may fail ..... pull out/fall off or the connection to the internals may fail.

If it is not a sealed battery ..... terminal corrosion is pretty much normal.

2/ on the matter of battery terminal treatments ....... yeh its pretty hard to go past ordinary grease or Vasoline.
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There is a yellow battery terminal spray ...... I baught a tin of this goop a while back ....... I realy doubt that it does any good .... appart from that it is a PITA to clean off
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I recon the role of battery terminal sprays is to produce " customer satisfaction" gives mechanics something visible to spray on battery terminals.
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3/ yeh people have been cleaning their battery terminals with bicarb for a very long time ........ bicarb stired in cold water is just fine .... if it fizzes its working.
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Heating the water will hep bicarb disolve ..... but it realy does not need to disolve all that well

with non sealed batteries it's worth taking the battery out ...... cleaning where it sits and sloshing a bit of bicarb and water around there .... to neutralise any spilled acid.

Remember if it is a normal automotive battery sealed or unsealed and it is over 2 or 3 years old it's due for replacement ...... if it is an exotic battery like AGM it might last a bit longer.

cheers
AnswerID: 604974

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