Cleaning Dirty Car Battery Cables?

I need to clean the rust off my old battery jumper cables so that I have a good connection when jumping from one car to another. What do I use to clean my old rusty car battery cables so that a strong connection will produce enough power?


By Joe Burto

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April 28, 20120 found this helpful

How to Clean Car Battery Terminals

A combination tool battery post brush and battery clamp brush, obtainable at any auto parts store, or online. These generally come in two designs, one employing wire brush elements and the other using two cutting blades and a reamer. Though old pros prefer the latter, either will work and either is suitable if youre not cleaning battery posts on a daily basis.
Locking pliers (vice grips).
Baking soda.
Clean, lint-free cloth.
Grease or petroleum jelly.

1.Remove the battery cables from the battery terminals by loosening the nut on each cable clamp. Once they are loose, always remove the cable clamp from the negative terminal first. Its marked with a minus (-) sign; the positive terminal has a plus (+) sign. Reverse the procedure, positive first, negative second, when replacing the cables. The cable may not come off easily. You will have to wiggle it and lift it upward until the clamp comes off the terminal post. Sometimes, especially if there is a lot of corrosion, you may need the assistance of pair of locking pliers. Be careful not to short any tools you use against the car when theyre in contact with the battery.


2.Examine the battery cables and clamps for excess wear or corrosion. Should damage appear extensive, replace the cables and clamps to avoid future problems.

3.Check the battery case for cracks and the terminals for damage. If you find either, replace the battery.

4.Secure the loose cables so that they dont accidentally flop back onto the terminals.

5.Pour some baking soda directly onto the posts.
6.Dip a toothbrush in water and use it to scrub the baking soda into the terminal posts and cable clamps. Skin and eye protection is recommended.

7.If the toothbrush isn't doing the job, Use a battery terminal cleaner brush on it. Also shine up the insides of the cable clamps by using the clamp cleaner that usually comes attached to the terminal brush or use a plain, soap-free steel wool pad.


8.Dry everything off with a clean, disposable, lint-free rag.
9.Smear grease or petroleum jelly on the posts to slow down the formation of corrosive deposits. Cover all exposed metal surfaces on the battery posts, battery cables, and clamps.

10.Replace the positive clamp first and then replace the negative clamp. Tighten them down with the proper sized wrench.

11.Replace the rubber boot or plastic shield that covers the positive terminal. If you dont have one, go and buy some from your local auto parts store.

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April 28, 20120 found this helpful

In a pinch you can clean the battery connections fairly good with a wire burush and a can of Coke. Even without the brush you can get the connections cleaned a little bit with just pouring the Coke over the terminals.


But it is better if you can scrub the terminals and cable connections with a brush while pouring Coke on them. You can probably use any other soda as long as it is high in carbonation. We always used Coke.

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Add your voice! Click below to answer. ThriftyFun is powered by your wisdom!

Is there something I can use to clean my rusty jumper cables so that I will have a good contact when using the cables to start another car?

By Joe Burto


May 7, 20120 found this helpful

Try soaking them in a carbonated soda like coke or pepsi for about 15 minutes and then take a wire brush to them, once they are cleaned and rinsed put a thin coat of vasoline on them!

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