It is important, especially for vehicles that are not driven frequently, to inspect the car battery every now and then for corrosion around the terminals. Keeping the terminals clean will not only reduce the risk of finding a dead battery when you're already running late for work, but regular maintenance will also extend the life of the battery.
A build-up of corrosion will not only make it harder to jump a dead battery, but it will affect daily driving performance. Cleaning the debris that can collect around the terminals is nearly as simple as brushing the plaque from your teeth.
In order to undertake this project, you will need first protective eyewear and rubber gloves as battery acid contains sulfuric acid - which can easily burn skin or ignite. You will also need a wire brush, a wrench, some clean rags and battery terminal cleaner. The most commonly recommended substance to fight corrosion is baking soda with a bit of water.
When the car is off and cool, the first step you must take is to remove the battery cables, starting with the negative side first. Use the wrench to loosen the nut just enough so that you can remove the cables. This can be difficult if the terminals are heavily corroded, and you may need the assistance of locking pliers to free the cable.
Secure the cables so they do not get in the way while you are cleaning the battery. Then pour some baking soda onto the corroded areas, add a bit of water and use the wire brush to gently scrub away at the build-up. The baking soda neutralizes the acidic content of the corrosive buildup and makes it easier to remove, but there are cleaning solutions available for this purpose as well.
When you are done and the terminals are clean, you can use a dab of grease or petroleum jelly on the terminals and other metal components of the battery to slow corrosion without affecting the conductivity of the battery. Then you will want to reconnect the cables, this time start with the positive side and then move on to the negative.
You should check the battery regularly for corrosive buildup in order to prevent it from getting out of hand. This will also ensure that your vehicle is getting the best charge and can run more efficiently.