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Mcgyver
07-10-2007, 05:37 PM
went to boost the wife's car today, think the problem is mostly corrosion; after menkeing around with cables, found wiggling the positive terminal wire restored some cranking power

so is it worth it to get a special product to apply to the terminals to prevent corrosion, or just use petroleum jelly?

Your Old Dog
07-10-2007, 05:50 PM
I would just go to the auto store and get some white lithium grease if you don't already have it. Using the other stuff, petroleum jelly, always made me horney :D

Fasttrack
07-10-2007, 05:56 PM
The spray works good too - plus its less messy. The felt washers also work well.

Mcgyver
07-10-2007, 05:58 PM
jeez YOD, if you're going to be the dirty old bugger, you could just about read my whole post in the wrong context :D

cybor462
07-10-2007, 06:07 PM
Years ago I was an Interstate battery reseller. We had the quick sales training/technical hodown. They always said that a well made battery that is vented and sealed properly will not force out acid unless there is another problem like overcharging etc. They pushed us to inform the customer they should not use anything on the cables.
They have one of the best warranties in their business. Their batteries are top notch.
Not a sales pitch for Interstate batteries but just another perspective on your question.

Rookie machinist
07-10-2007, 06:12 PM
If you had alot of corrosion inspect the cables, they may be corroded also. If they are its time to replace them. The "repair" terminals most auto parts stores sell are just a qiuck fix. When the corrosion weeps down the cable it eats away the copper wire and can lead to problems and starting or charging later on down the road. If you do repair the cables get the good quaility terminals that need to be soldered or crimped on, and cut the cable beyond where any corrosion is present.

Rich Carlstedt
07-10-2007, 09:24 PM
Simple solution goes back to my youth.
Throw some pennies (copper) on top of the battery.
The venting hydrogen will attack them first.
empty your pockets every 3 months...
Rich

Your Old Dog
07-10-2007, 09:38 PM
Simple solution goes back to my youth.
Throw some pennies (copper) on top of the battery.
The venting hydrogen will attack them first.
empty your pockets every 3 months...
Rich

Okay. I've got a F350 Super Duty 7.3 liter Power Stroke Diesel with off road/towing package. Can I use 4" lagbolts to hold them pennys onto the battery? :D

Peter S
07-10-2007, 10:14 PM
Boil a jug of water and pour it over the battery - the white stuff will vanish. I have used ordinary grease, and those felt terminal washers, but in recent years batteries don't seem to give as much trouble, maybe charging systems are better.
I have seen special spray on terminal spray (Wurth), could be 'worth' a try if you are into spray-on answers.

Doc Nickel
07-10-2007, 10:40 PM
Easiest way to stop corrosion is to not let it start in the first place.

The terminal corrode from the electrolyte acid fumes. Get a battery that doesn't outgas (or at least as much) and the terminals will stop corroding.

Pick up an Optima or Orbital style battery, which uses a gelled electrolyte that doesn't boil or fume (comparatively speaking.) I've had kind of poor luck with Optimas, but I'm told new ones are somewhat better. I've had excellent luck, however, with Interstate's Orbital, which uses essentially the same technology.

I've had them in three or four different vehicles for pushing eight years now, and the terminals and cables basically don't corrode- they hardly even tarnish.

Doc.

Evan
07-10-2007, 10:45 PM
Venting hydrogen isn't the problem. It's sulphuric acid that vents with it. Even then it doesn't directly attack the cables or connector. It provides an excellent electrolyte for dissimilar metal corrosion to take place.

However, the biggest problem is the negative ground system. It ensures the cable is more positive than the negative terminal causing the cable to electroplate the copper to the terminal. This doesn't turn out well as it erodes the cable. With positive ground the opposite happens. The lead from the terminal tries to move to the cable. Because of the chemistry it can't so nothing happens.

My Land Rover uses positive ground and the result at the battery is zero corrosion in nearly 50 years. I have never replaced or even cleaned the battery terminals. Here is a pic of them I just now took.

http://vts.bc.ca/pics2/lrbatt.jpg

[edit]

Zero electrolytic corrosion, not counting the slight rust. :D

pntrbl
07-10-2007, 11:37 PM
Had a 54 Ford with positive ground. Put a 4 track in it. Ran backwards!

The thing I've noticed here lately is whatever vehicles I have with side mount battery terminals do not have this problem. Maybe the top of the battery isn't the best place to put the posts?

SP

Doc Nickel
07-11-2007, 12:27 AM
Evan- I didn't say "hydrogen". I said "acid fumes". Yes, hydrogen is generated when charging and even discharging, but the electrolyte does at times boil or just heat up, which generates, as yoiu note, sulfuric acid fumes.

And it's these fumes that cause the corrosion, helped along, of course, by the dissimilar metals of the posts and cables.

The gelled-electrolyte batteries don't generate the acid fumes (or at least generate far less fume) and that reduces corrosion considerably.


The thing I've noticed here lately is whatever vehicles I have with side mount battery terminals do not have this problem. Maybe the top of the battery isn't the best place to put the posts?

-Nope. It's just as bad, just better covered. We had a battery where the side-terminal bolt was just slightly too long, which cracked the lead terminal. Electrolyte weeped through the crack, through the bolt threads, and oozed it's way into the battery cable, corroding the copper strands from the inside.

That led to a difficult diagnosis, as the cable and terminal end looked superficially perfect. But when slit open, the conductor was down to a bare few strands, surrounded by large blobs of white corrosion.

Side terminal is a bit better in that the terminals are a little more fully covered, and less exposed to the acid fumes (as well as being a little further from the vents producing the gas) but they still corrode.

I spent years trying washers, greases, anti-seizes, stainless bolts and copper clamps, yearly scrubbings with baking soda and hot water, and all that rot. Then I got an Optima (and later, three more Optimas, and right now, a total of three daily-use Orbitals) and I haven't had to worry about corrosion or rusty bolts in years.

Doc.

Evan
07-11-2007, 01:06 AM
Evan- I didn't say "hydrogen". I said "acid fumes".

I was replying to a previous post, not yours. I didn't see yours until now. For some reason there is a delay in posts showing up sometimes.

Too_Many_Tools
07-11-2007, 01:19 AM
Evan- I didn't say "hydrogen". I said "acid fumes". Yes, hydrogen is generated when charging and even discharging, but the electrolyte does at times boil or just heat up, which generates, as yoiu note, sulfuric acid fumes.

And it's these fumes that cause the corrosion, helped along, of course, by the dissimilar metals of the posts and cables.

The gelled-electrolyte batteries don't generate the acid fumes (or at least generate far less fume) and that reduces corrosion considerably.



-Nope. It's just as bad, just better covered. We had a battery where the side-terminal bolt was just slightly too long, which cracked the lead terminal. Electrolyte weeped through the crack, through the bolt threads, and oozed it's way into the battery cable, corroding the copper strands from the inside.

That led to a difficult diagnosis, as the cable and terminal end looked superficially perfect. But when slit open, the conductor was down to a bare few strands, surrounded by large blobs of white corrosion.

Side terminal is a bit better in that the terminals are a little more fully covered, and less exposed to the acid fumes (as well as being a little further from the vents producing the gas) but they still corrode.

I spent years trying washers, greases, anti-seizes, stainless bolts and copper clamps, yearly scrubbings with baking soda and hot water, and all that rot. Then I got an Optima (and later, three more Optimas, and right now, a total of three daily-use Orbitals) and I haven't had to worry about corrosion or rusty bolts in years.

Doc.

Actually preparing a piece of cardboard by soaking it in a saturated solution of baking soda and then letting it dry, then cut to fit the top of the battery so it covers the battery, then fit the cables on the battery posts. Any sulfuric acid vented will first have to make it pass the baking soda (sodium carbonate - a base) impregnanted cardboard..which it won't. The acid will be absorbed by the cardboard, neutralized by the sodium carbonate and will be rendered harmless.

I have never had any corrosion on the battery cables or posts.

Another trick is to paint your battery with latex paint....with lots of baking soda dissolved in it.

TMT

TMT

Evan
07-11-2007, 01:45 AM
Makes me wonder why they don't just put a proper vent on the battery same as motorcycle batteries.

Mike W
07-11-2007, 02:50 AM
I hate those side mounted terminals. I put the battery box in the trunk of my 65 Mustang. The terminals never gave me any problems in over 30 years. One thing to watch for is acid wicking in the wire connected to the terminals.

I used to get some mil surplus battery clamps that had a stud to attach the battery cable with a lug on the end. I have one truck with that over 20 years old. I made the cables out of welding cable.

Peter S
07-11-2007, 02:58 AM
Evan,

I have a Hella battery in my car, it has a vent tube similar to motorcycle types. It is long and flexible so you can run it where you like. The Hella batteries are highly rated in NZ Consumer tests, but being made in NZ or Australia they may differ in other parts of the world.

A.K. Boomer
07-11-2007, 08:55 AM
Personally I dont think the vent tube on motorcycles is the solution, In my experience Motorcycle batteries have proven to be the worst, I think much of the problem comes from the only area of the battery where the lead acid plates have to make thier way through the plastic and become terminals, all batterys have this in common be it side mount or top, The "dry" cell type have a slight advantage but none are totally immune to seepage over the course of thier lives, maybe at first everything remaines bonded between the plastic and the lead ---- then -- heating and cooling cycles and the different expansion rates between the plastic and the lead -- corrosion internally as even the most inner part of the battery post is being used for the chemical reaction and is losing material, this coupled with people torqeing out on battery posts and cable vibes all contribute to an acid seep right where you dont want it, baking soda to clean and then a cheap can of gooey spray on battery term. protectant, wanna get fancy get the washers too and soak them, this will buy you the most time...

Evan
07-11-2007, 09:17 AM
Nice hypothesis but it doesn't explain why my Land Rover battery has no trace of acid corrosion. If you note the sticker on the battery it was bought in 2-99. It is used at very high discharge/charge rates when plowing which is why I use a deep discharge battery. I put a 140 amp alternator on the machine by converting the alternator to positive ground to keep up with the electrical use. The hydraulic system is electrohydraulic and draws about 100 amps when pumping and I have a lot of lights, front and rear.

http://vts.bc.ca/pics/roverpump.jpg

BigBoy1
07-11-2007, 09:29 AM
Baking soda and water is the best for remvoing the "crud" that builds up on battery terminals. When we were using batteries with top mounted terminals, about every 2 or 3 months, I pour a gallon of water with as much baking soda I could dissolve in it over the battery and therminals and it cleaned it right away. A few strokes with a wire brush removed any spots that weren't washed away.

Bill

pcarpenter
07-11-2007, 03:05 PM
Outside of the ridiculous costs of the Optima batteries, I have shyed away from them because I do believe they are a "gel cell". Gell cell batteries aren't considered to be as capable of delivering high discharge rates (not as high as liquid electrolyte batteries). I imagine the jellied electrolyte slows migration of charge ever so slightly. That having been said, I imagine they are not ideal for those of us who live in cold climates...at least not when its below zero Fahrenheit outsides.

Decades ago, I thought I was having an intermittent, ongoing problem with the starter solenoid on my '68 GTO. I would drive it in the heat of summer and stop and then it would not restart....no starter motion whatsoever. I would get out and try to wiggle battery cables and tap on the solenoid and it would start. I repeated the exercise several times and then finally pulled off the battery connections. I had used that red spray-on battery terminal protector and what was happening was that it would "melt" and run down around the posts, increasing resistance until it would not start. I wiped it all off and never had another problem.

I now use Ox Guard (made by GC as I recall). Its designed for use on house wire connections to prevent oxidation and seems to work well on battery terminals. It is most commonly used for the big service entrance lugs in your service panel as that is most often a copper wire in an aluminum lug situation.

Paul

Mike W
07-11-2007, 04:58 PM
I had an Optima in a company truck one time. I got gas and stopped again 10 minutes later. When I tried to start 5 minutes later, it wouldn't even turn the radio on. I have never seen a battery fail totally like that before.

J. R. Williams
07-11-2007, 05:21 PM
Evan
The battery cable connector shown in your first photo sure is not an OEM item, it is one of the multitude of cheap and poor cable/terminal clamps that should not be on the market.... Who knows it's age.

JRW

Doc Nickel
07-11-2007, 06:07 PM
Outside of the ridiculous costs of the Optima batteries, I have shyed away from them because I do believe they are a "gel cell". Gell cell batteries aren't considered to be as capable of delivering high discharge rates (not as high as liquid electrolyte batteries). I imagine the jellied electrolyte slows migration of charge ever so slightly. That having been said, I imagine they are not ideal for those of us who live in cold climates...at least not when its below zero Fahrenheit outsides.

-They are indeed gelled electrolyte. That's what helps keep them from venting acid vapors.

Now, I don't know about Orbitals, but Optima has a "high-discharge/deep-draw" version of it's battery. The off-roaders love them because they can't spill acid even if the truck takes a tumble, and they still work great for running winches- which is an extremely high-draw load.

As for the cold weather, well, I live in Alaska, and all three of my daily drivers have Orbitals. :D They all have block heaters, but not battery heaters, and I have no trouble starting any of them- even the carbureted ones- down to 40F below zero. Yes, they crank slower- even normal batteries do that- but they do start, each day, every day.

Doc.

greyhawk200
07-11-2007, 06:38 PM
Why didn't anyone sugest sprinking baking soda (arm&hammer) on the corrosion and washing it off with water? Is that not a good idea?

Peter S
07-11-2007, 07:45 PM
Baking soda has been mentioned already, but the strange thing is that plain hot water works fine, so I am curious - what benefit does baking soda add? It sounds like unnecessary hassle to me. (Maybe it allows you to use cold water?) I haven't got any battery corrosion to experiment with at present :)
The only draw back to boiling water is that it will kill your lawn, so do it on the concrete :)

Evan
07-11-2007, 08:12 PM
Evan
The battery cable connector shown in your first photo sure is not an OEM item, it is one of the multitude of cheap and poor cable/terminal clamps that should not be on the market.... Who knows it's age.
I know that. As for the age of the replaced part it is before I bought the vehicle in 1976. Seems to have held up OK. :)


what benefit does baking soda add?

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is highly alkaline and neutralises acid. Mix some with vinegar and see.

Hal
07-11-2007, 08:44 PM
We run a fleet of trucks and are always fighting corrosion problem.

The best thing that I've used was the felt washer that were made by Whitaker(SP?) the washers were treated with a STICKY purple type grease.

There would be no corrosion until the washer were eaten away, usually the batteries gave out before the washers did..

The company is gone I guess and none of the other treated felt rings I tried are as good.

Hal

Your Old Dog
07-12-2007, 06:33 AM
Why didn't anyone sugest sprinking baking soda (arm&hammer) on the corrosion and washing it off with water? Is that not a good idea?

I've used it several times and it works great just have to be sure and chase it all off the vehicle when you're done. I didn't once and have always wondered if that's why my battery mount rusted much faster than anything else under the hood.

My reason for doing it was because the battery got oily and grungy. A friend told me that would cause leakage between the terminals. He then put a volt meter across the case "near" each terminal and got a significant reading. When the battery was cleaned that didn't happen. In cold weather it might make a difference if your car/truck sits for awhile.

quadrod
07-12-2007, 07:15 AM
one of the big things i have found with batteries is don't manhandle the termenals. once you break the seal around the terminal where it passes though the case nothing will stop it from leaking. terminals don't have to be supper tight. once you put a clean terminal onto the battery lug just snug the clamp, then don't touch it again if you don't have to. and when you wash your car or truck, wash out under the hood too.

A.K. Boomer
07-12-2007, 09:45 AM
I actually just had to replace my car battery yesterday, what a wierd problem, I dont think iv ever seen one quite like this, at first I thought it was the typical bad diodes in the alternator syndrome backfeeding, but even with the positive battery clamp removed here is what would happen, You would shut the car off and take a voltage reading, the battery would hover around 12.87 volts (little low) and then after aprox. 30 seconds would be down to 12.86, and another 30 seconds 12.85 and so on and so forth, till you hit 12.66,,, then it would almost direct short internally, it would drop from 12.66 to 12.56 in about 1 second, this would happen all the way down to about 10.92, then it would completley stop, my car would always start but just barley, what a wierd problem either plates shorting out or semi- conductive sediment can cause but this is the best of my hunch, plates warping the wrong way because of heat and then disconecting when thier isnt enough energy left or something --- Iv seen a million of them short and go dead but not to many that disconnect themselves...

lynnl
07-12-2007, 12:00 PM
There must be an epidemic. I had to replace two within four days last week. And one seemed to be the same problem AKB described. Wife drove it home, parked in driveway - went out to restart it within about 30 min - would not start. Then when I got home 2 or 3 hrs later it started for me, but just barely. That was Sunday. Same Monday morning when I cranked it to go get a replacement - it started, but weakly. When I pulled it out I could see a noticeable bulge on one end.

In the last 12 or 15 years there's been one absolute constant in my car battery experience: Every single one has failed within 30 days or less of the warrenty end. If it's a 60 month battery, by god don't expect to get 62 months out of it. ...and in a couple of cases, when I pulled out the old receipt (which I always keep), I find it has failed on the EXACT anniversary date!!
My hat is off to those battery engineers! Those guys know what they're doing!!

Another thing I've noticed: I never have any corrosion with those side-mounted, screw/bolt terminals. Both of those last week (Buicks) were clean as a whistle.

Wirecutter
07-12-2007, 12:55 PM
Here in the middle of the US East coast, I've had excellent results with those green and red felt washers that are soaked in whatever. I check that things are tight and not leaking once in a while, and use a battery terminal cleaner if it appears appropriate.

I use yellow-top Optimas on my gokart, and although they're quite expensive, they're great. I chose them based on a good rep, the fact that they don't leak, they tolerate mechanical shock well, and operate in any position. Although I don't operate the kart upside down or anything, without suspension it's not exactly "floating on a cloud" ride quality. The electric vehicle community generally has good things to say about the Optima and Exide Orbital batteries in deep cycle service.

-Mark