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What should I do if my battery terminals are rusty?

Rust can definitely become a problem with some batteries. Rust and build up on battery terminals can block the current of power from getting to and from the battery. In other words, the rechargeable battery may not be allowed to maintain a charge and if it does have a charge, the battery may not be able to get power out , causing appliances such as emergency light not to operate when back-up power is needed.

Rusty terminals are most common on Sealed Lead Acid batteries but it can occur on any unit where the terminals are not stainless steel.

Cleaning Rusty Battery Terminals

To remedy the problem, first remove the cables or wiring from your battery noting the following:

  • You will want to disconnect the negative terminal first, then the positive terminal.
  • You may need to use a pair of pliers to loosen and remove the cables/ wiring.
  • Be sure not to short your battery out by touching a metal tool to the battery and another metal object.
  • If you find that the cables are damaged or have excessive corrosion, make sure and replace them.
  • If the battery terminals have damage, you will need to replace your battery.

You can now poor a little baking soda on each terminal/ post and the wiring connectors/clamps and scrub them with a wet toothbrush. If the toothbrush isn’t doing the trick, you can use a wire brush.; When you have finished cleaning the terminals, wipe and dry the terminals with a lint free cloth.

After that, hook the positive wire back to the positive terminal/ post, then the negative wire back to the negative terminal/ post (reverse of what you did earlier).

Preventing Future Rust on Battery Terminals

Once your wiring is hooked back up to your battery, you can apply White Lithium Grease to all the bare metal parts at the connection points. This will not only take care of your current problem, but prevent future build up or rust.

The White Lithium Grease will not cause issues with your electrical connection and can be found in your local automotive store.  The grease will prevent corrosion by forming a layer between the conducting surfaces, eliminating contact by moisture and air.

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  1. 1. After Applying White Lithium Grease do we need to change it regularly or for particular period.?

    2. Can We Use Vaseline or Biolin insted of White Lithium Grease?

    1. Hi there Poornesh,
      I know your question was asked 3 years ago, but I figured I’d post an answer anyways on the off chance that others reading this article wanted to know those things as well. 🙂

      1. As far as the necessity for reapplication of the grease, I’d say that unless you live in an area with harsh weather/environmental conditions (such as salty sea air etc etc) then you shouldn’t have to put more grease very often. Just check your battery connections routinely (around every 2 or 3 months) and only reapply if there’s no more grease present on the terminals.

      2. I’m not familiar with biolin but I know that you can absolutely use vaseline/petroleum jelly in lieu of other dialectic greases, it’s perfectly fine and commonly used as such.

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