What Causes Battery Terminal Corrosion (and How to Avoid It)?

Battery terminal corrosion is an all-too-common problem. But what causes it? And how can it be avoided? We’re taking a closer look at what you need to know about battery corrosion, avoiding it, and cleaning up when it strikes.

What Causes Battery Terminal Corrosion?

When volatile chemicals or gases escape from a battery and come into contact with the highly conductive metal of the battery terminal, corrosion occurs. If the batteries are not vented correctly, they can release gases filled with hydrogen, sulfur, and acids, which damage nearby battery terminals.
Ensure that lead-acid batteries are well ventilated. The corrosive gasses are harmful to metals and your lungs.
A wide range of factors can contribute to this. When an owner adds too much water during battery maintenance, the battery acid may escape. Overcharging is another common cause of corrosion, especially if the damage appears limited to the positive terminal of the battery. The corrosion of your battery terminals can be caused by anything that exposes them to reactive materials (including bad weather).
In addition to corrosion, these batteries emit very dangerous gasses, which is a sign of their chemical danger. Luckily, lithium batteries like our Battle Born line don’t emit any gasses and won’t corrode terminals. This is just one of the reasons our batteries are so much more safe than old lead-acid batteries.

What Happens If Battery Terminals Corrode?

Generally, battery terminal corrosion impairs the flow of power between the battery and the device. Because of this inefficient power transfer, your batteries may not be able to deliver as much power. If the battery is severely corrosiond, you may not be able to start your vehicle or device.

Corroded terminals may also overheat if you draw a lot of current through them. This can damage cables and batteries. Corrosion increases resistance in the connections.

What Does Battery Corrosion Look Like?

Most often, you’ll see a buildup of flaky, crumbly material around the battery terminal. This material is white, light blue, greenish, gray, or brown in color, depending on the specific battery type.

Does Battery Corrosion Mean a Bad Battery?

The corrosion of your battery terminals might indicate that your battery isn’t operating correctly. This is often the case with older batteries beginning to fail. However, in some cases, like those mentioned previously, user error may also be to blame.
Using lead-acid batteries in deep cycling applications like RV, boat, or off-grid power is common for them to develop corrosion. Due to the release of gasses caused by long discharges and recharges, lead-acid batteries are not a good choice for deep cycling applications. Lithium is a much safer, safer, and less dangerous choice for these applications.

Does Battery Corrosion Ruin Electronics?

You might not need much more than a cleaning or, at worst, a new battery terminal if you have just a little bit of battery acid leaking. However, major leaks can send corrosive substances and gasses deep into your device, destroying sensitive electronics. In order to prevent battery corrosion in expensive or especially sensitive electronics, it’s crucial.
Make sure lead-acid batteries are well ventilated and not near electronic components if you are using them.

Any electronics in the battery cabinet can also become corroded by the metal of this battery tray.

How Do You Fix a Corroded Battery Terminal?

There are many different products that can remove corrosion from battery terminals. You can usually find them at auto part stores, online, and elsewhere. However, many people choose an at-home corrosion removal method they can do themselves.
Corroded terminals can be cleaned with baking soda water. However, it will not prevent further damage.

After disconnecting and removing the battery, cover the corroded terminals with baking soda. After that, add some water and let the chemistry do its work to take off the corrosion. Occasionally, you may need to replace the terminal itself if the corrosion damage is so severe. However, in less severe cases, you may be able to use this at-home remedy.
It is important to remember that cleaning will not repair any damage caused by the gasses. If the gasses severely eat the metal, then the terminals may need to be replaced.
A sticky oil can also be sprayed on battery terminals to slow corrosion. Special corrosion slowing products are available, but these products leave a mess on the batteries and are covered in a thick greasy substance that will stain your clothes. By coating the metals in oil that does not react with the corrosive gasses from the batteries, these products work.

The terminal is covered in preventative grease. The grease works, but it is very messy.

Avoid Battery Terminal Corrosion by Switching to Lithium

If you want to prevent battery corrosion, you should use a battery type that doesn’t corrode under any circumstance – lithium. This more modern battery technology offers numerous benefits to those who are willing to switch.

No Dangerous Battery Acid Leaks

In most cases, lead-acid batteries are designed to be opened or vented, as the chemicals release gasses as a result of charging. However, lithium batteries are sealed permanently, eliminating the risk of harmful leaks. In the absence of serious damage, your lithium battery’s chemicals will remain safe inside.
The batteries have been installed for 5 years and are still as clean as they were when they were first installed

No Acidic Fumes

The important differences in battery chemistry between traditional batteries and lithium ones also mean you don’t need to vent fumes. The sealed nature of lithium batteries means you don’t have to vent or release fumes, even when you don’t have battery terminal corrosion to contend with. Fumes can be dangerous and corrosive by themselves.

No Maintenance

When you use standard lead-acid batteries, maintenance is just part of life. In order for lithium-ion batteries to continue working properly, you must top them off every few weeks or months. Once you have installed the battery, you are generally hands-off except for charging it. Lithium-ion batteries don’t require any maintenance at all.

Many More Benefits

Lithium batteries have so much more to offer than just protection from corrosion and no maintenance. They last substantially longer than traditional batteries, which means they won’t need to be replaced as often. Furthermore, they are much lighter than comparable lead-acid batteries, so users can either cut weight or add battery capacity while maintaining the same weight with these batteries. Additionally, they perform well at most temperatures, and they can be discharged more fully, which eliminates two of the major weaknesses of traditional batteries.
Use noncorrosive batteries if you want clean battery terminals.

Say Goodbye to Battery Corrosion

It’s normal to worry about your batteries and the things they power, not to mention the potential hazard of coming into contact with battery acid, which can make corrosion seem a little scary at first. You should, however, be able to avoid most battery terminal corrosion if you keep this information in mind and know what to do in case it does occur. By switching to powerful, modern lithium batteries, you can even stop worrying about corrosion for good.