Caring For Your Car’s Battery

March 21st, 2013 by

Battery ChangeYou hear the big storm is coming, so you run to the store quick to get those two essentials: milk and bread. You find a parking spot near the storefront, immediately find the goods, and are first in line for the cashier just as they open their lane. Could your luck get any better? As you hop in your car, the snow begins to fall. You smile, knowing you’re going to get home just in time before it really starts to come down. Or you would, if your car would start.

You repeatedly turn the key in the ignition and nothing happens. Not a sound, not a click, not a whirl; nothing. You were in the store maybe five minutes, so how could your battery die? You sit smoldering in your seat as fluffy snowflakes begin to collect on your windshield.

Turning the key and not getting a response can be caused by many things. A sudden, out-of-the-blue problem like this, however, usually points to the battery. There’s a good chance that your battery isn’t dead, but rather that there is build-up on the terminals. Routinely cleaning these connections can help you to avoid situations like this.

What Causes Build-up on Your Battery’s Terminals

Take a look at your battery. The two large metal knobs on the top are the terminals. Sometimes they are covered by large plastic caps for additional protection. Typically, a red label indicates the positive terminal and a black label the negative terminal.

Whenever you are working with a car battery, do not ever touch both terminals at the same time. This will complete the circuit and could cause serious injury or even death. When using metal tools on the terminals, also be sure not to touch another metal component of the engine. This too can lead to a large shock.

The greenish-white build-up you may see on the terminals is caused by hydrogen gas coming up from the battery. Your battery is filled with sulfuric acid and the older if gets, the more hydrogen escapes. This is what’s preventing your cables from making a connection with the battery, denying your vehicle electrical power.

Cleaning the Terminals

  • •    Go to your local automotive shop and buy a wire brush and a anti-battery corrosion formula.
  • •    Using a crescent wrench, remove the cables from the battery, starting with the negative terminal.
  • •    Use the wire brush to scrape away the corrosion on both the terminals and the cables.
  • •    Coat the terminals with the protective formula, following the directions on the bottle.
  • •    Replace the cables, being careful not to over-tighten or strip out the heads of the bolts.

Remember, if you ever feel uncomfortable working on your vehicle yourself, bring it in to Middletown Honda. We’re always happy to help!