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Hey, you're in the vehicle / car zone--YOUR HANDYMAN ZONE!

Cars / Trucks / Vans Category: Battery

Maintenance Issues:

How to maintain even "maintenance-free" batteries--yes, they need maintenance attention, too!

Tools / Materials (See Below for Applicability):

·         Pan/container

·         Baking soda

·         Water

·         Spoon/stick (for stirring)

·         Rags

·         Hard-wire brush

·         Wrench

·         Petroleum jelly


Those who purchase so-called "maintenance-free car batteries" assumingly have the impression that they not only bought a battery, but also a "pass" to the need of battery maintenance for the lifetime of the battery, which is not the case at all.

Every battery requires maintenance.

Batteries, particularly "maintenance-free batteries," with side hook-ups (i.e., threaded holes on the side of the battery that are used to secure the battery to cable terminals with corresponding holes, using bolts) may have the appearance of not needing any sort of maintenance over the course of their use, though it is what you cannot see that should concern you and your maintenance aptitude.

Corrosion.  Corrosion is the culprit in this situation, as it usually is with all batteries, old and newer versions.  Specifically, for the untrained eye (i.e., the vehicle owners who do not look for this), corrosion that inevitably builds up under the bolts that connect the cable terminals to the battery on the side is practically impossible to observe without looking for it in disconnecting the terminals.

Therefore, as a more informed vehicle owner, you should annually take the time and effort to perform the following maintenance on your "maintenance-free" battery:

  1. Preferably, the vehicle should not have been running for at least 15 minutes.

  2. With the hood open, disconnect the cable terminals from the battery--first with the negative (black) cable and then the positive (red) cable, loosening the nuts in the process (with a wrench if need be), and then unscrew the bolts.

  3. Prepare a baking soda-water solution in a pan/container, mixing about 3 parts baking soda to 2 parts water, and mix them together with a spoon/stick to form a solution.

  4. Use this baking soda-water solution to clean the corrosion off the cable terminals, bolts and holes in the battery and terminals themselves, dipping a rag into the solution and using this rag and, if necessary, a hard-wire brush, to scrub off any stubborn corrosion.  (Incidentally, if you encounter a battery leak, this solution can be used to wash it off your contaminated clothes, furniture or even hands.)

  5. Reconnect the cable terminals to the battery as they originally were, making sure you are acutely aware of making the right positive and negative connections.  Make sure the connections are snug-tight with your hands.

  6. Apply a small amount of petroleum jelly over the cable connections in an effort to resist future corrosion.

You're done.  Don't take your "maintenance-free" battery for granted because it is not necessarily totally maintenance-free--take care of it, and it will take care of you.

Ed the Handyman


Your Handyman Zone Team


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