How To Clean And Inspect Your Car Battery

Cold winter mornings will soon be returning. One of the worst experiences on a very cold morning is getting in your car to go to work and not having enough power in your battery to start the car. Now is the time to inspect your battery and make sure it is still in good enough shape to handle the cold. Here is how to clean and inspect your battery.

Cleaning Battery

You should clean the battery and terminals before you inspect the battery. Corroded terminals can inhibit the ability of your battery to start your car on cold mornings even if the battery is fully charged.

Remove the positive and negative cables from the battery terminals. Mix some baking soda with water in a cup. Apply the mixture to the terminals and cable terminal clamps with an old toothbrush, and scrub the corrosion off. Rinse with water and reconnect the cables to the battery. Once the terminals are clean, you can test the how well your battery holds a charge.


You can use a battery charger or a voltmeter to check the health of your battery.

If you are using a battery charger, connect the positive and negative prongs on the battery charger to the corresponding positive and negative terminals on the battery. Turn the battery charger on and let it run for couple of hours. 

A fully charged battery at rest will produce about 12.7 – 13.2 volts. The voltage will decrease down to about 12.0 volts for a battery holding a 25% charge. Any reading on the battery charger under 12.0 means the battery is not holding enough of a charge to get you through a cold winter.

You can also use a voltmeter to test how much of a charge your battery is holding. You need to make sure the battery is fully charged for this test to work properly (charge the battery with the battery charger to make sure it's fully charged).

Place the negative and positive prongs from the voltmeter onto the negative and positive terminals of the battery. Turn the ignition on, but don't start the car.

The voltmeter should read anywhere between 9.5 – 10.5 volts for at least 30 seconds. If the voltmeter has a lower reading, or the voltage drops after a few seconds, the battery's useful life is ending.  

You should replace the battery if it can't hold a proper charge. For professional services, contact a company such as Hawaii Import Parts.