Can You Use Vaseline on Battery Terminals?

Built-up corrosion on a car battery is no good. You can prevent it by lubricating the terminals with petroleum jelly or Vaseline to keep the dust and grime out. 

Car batteries cost hundreds of dollars, a pricey investment that can be used for a significant period. You will get your money’s worth, but only if you prioritize maintenance and caution. 

That includes paying adequate attention to your battery. One of the more common problems you can look out for is corrosion. Luckily, it can be dealt with easily by applying a lubricant to the terminals. 

This begs the question – can you put Vaseline on battery terminals? Vaseline is a common lubricant that is used for more than just domestic applications. It can be used for anything! But does that include preventing a corrosion buildup on your terminals? Read on to find out. 

Can you put Vaseline on your battery terminals?

An essential part of car maintenance is taking care of the battery. A bluish-green powdered substance that can be found on most batteries is called a corrosion buildup. It is not the best for your battery because it prevents it from receiving a proper charge by the alternator. 

You can identify corrosion based on the side it can be found on the terminal.  

Ultimately, this common phenomenon can bring your battery’s lifespan to a more accelerated end. 

vaseline on battery

Vaseline is a lubricant, a by-product of petrol. It is also called petroleum jelly and is popular for its versatility and numerous use cases. It can be used to prevent the buildup of corrosion on car batteries, but it is a bad conductor of electricity. 

It is flammable too. There are better options for preventing corrosion on car batteries, but you can use Vaseline when it is an emergency. Otherwise, resort to those options because they will protect your battery terminals more efficiently. 

How to clean your battery terminals 

Cleaning your battery terminals is easy, and it can be done at home. It is after you have removed all the corrosion that you will apply Vaseline. As a lubricant, it will reduce the possibility of another buildup. 

The things you need to clean your battery terminals include: 

  • Vinyl protective gloves. 
  • Water. 
  • Washcloth. 
  • Vaseline.
  • Baking soda. 

Prepare the materials 

A thorough mixture of a tablespoon of distilled water and two tablespoons of baking soda will be used to remove the corrosive buildup. Prepare this solution in a bowl and mix thoroughly into a thick paste. 

Alkaline can be used to neutralize a corrosion buildup, and baking soda is loaded with it. Although this substance is relatively harmless, you need to take care not to let it touch other components under your car’s hood. 

Prepare the battery 

You can either disconnect and remove the battery or wash it while it is still in the car. An inspection is vital before you proceed – examine the battery casing for cracks. If you find any, then you need to replace your battery. 

When disconnecting it, start with the negative cable. Remove the negative one after, and assess how much corrosion damage has been done. It can be on the positive or negative cable, but each one sends a message. 

The greenish-blue substance that sometimes signifies corrosion appears on the positive terminal when you have constantly overcharged the battery. A reaction between the copper on the terminals and the lead from the battery creates this substance. 

On the other terminal, you can identify sulfation, a type of corrosion, by the whitish powder form it assumes. This occurs as a result of long-term battery discharge – when you have not charged your battery for a while, you may have expected this to happen. 

You can clean them if the damage is not too significant. 

Clean the terminals 

Now, dab the toothbrush or slightly damp washcloth into the baking soda solution. Apply it to the corroded parts and leave for five to ten minutes. You will know you are on the right track through the bubble and foam reaction that will be elicited. 

Remove the major corrosive deposits with a blunt knife and the minor parts with a wire brush. You can also use steel wool but will have to be careful when scrubbing it because your hands will come in direct contact with caustic agents. Wear vinyl protective gloves for maximum safety. 

Rinse and dry the battery

You will know when it is time to clean the battery when the baking soda stops foaming. After scraping all the significant corrosion buildup, pour two cups of distilled water on the battery, particularly the negative and positive terminals. 

Baking soda can spoil your battery if it finds a way into the vents. It neutralizes the acid, thereby reducing the lifespan. 

Then, dry the terminals with a soft cloth that is devoid of grease or dirt. Dry the battery and reconnect it to your car. 

Apply Vaseline 

Adequate lubrication will considerably reduce corrosion buildup. Vaseline has repeatedly proven reliable for this; you only need to apply a thin layer across both terminals. 

What can you put on battery terminals instead of Vaseline?

Vaseline is a great option for preventing corrosion. However, dielectric grease is a special lubricant that has been designed to prevent corrosion. Even when it is in constant contact with a high voltage, this substance will not break down. 

But again, a car battery is only 12v, which means you can use petroleum jelly without the fear of it breaking down. That is why it is safe to use Vaseline as an emergency substitute for car terminal lubricant. 

Otherwise, you have conductive and non-conductive lubricants to choose from. 

How to prevent a corrosion buildup 

Even when you clean your terminals often, the occurrence of corrosion each time damages the battery. So, you can prevent the buildup instead and prolong the lifespan of your car battery. 

Check your battery regularly

When you check your battery regularly, you will be able to spot corrosion before it aggregates. 

Watch your driving habits

Discharging can damage your battery in the long run. When you are traveling or will not be using the vehicle for a while, it is best to disconnect it. Store it somewhere safe with a trickle charger attached to it. Alternatively, you can charge it every two weeks. 

In the same vein, the use of car accessories should be moderated. Avoid killing your battery one too many times, which often starts with a rapid discharge when you run these accessories without the engine functioning. 

Overcharging may occur when you use a car battery charger to supply currents to a dead or weak battery and leave it connected for too long. 

Clean your terminals 

Cleaning a terminal buildup before it worsens will reduce the damage that it could have caused. You only need a toothbrush and some baking soda for this. 

Bottom line 

Do you know what your battery looks like? A car battery is an integral and fairly costly part of your vehicle and should be treated and maintained with the uttermost priority. You will get your money’s worth when you clean and service it regularly, and we have shown you the proper steps to take. 

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