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Hello,

A month ago, I was changing the battery and I noticed a ton of white powder coming from the positive terminal. I cleaned it off good. Now my car starts poorly at random times. Took off the battery terminal and the white powder keeps coming back. Why does white powder keep coming back?
 

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Typically it's corrosion. Number of ways to limit or prevent it. Cheap way is to use petroleum jelly on the battery terminals. Other methods are to use dielectric grease or an anti corrosive spray. One can find numerous articles and blog posts about it and how to prevent it online. Here are just two:
What Is That White Powder On My Car Battery Terminals?
Battery Terminal Corrosion: Why it happens & How to fix it

Edit to add: One applies the preventative method by removing the battery clamps/cable from the battery, one at a time. Clean the battery terminals/post. Then apply the preventative measure on the battery posts. Then reattach the battery clamps/cable to their correct battery post, again one at a time. Positive to Positive. Negative to Negative.

Note: Disconnecting the car's battery may trigger an ECU re-learn. Not a big deal but the car may run a little rough while the ECU goes through the learning process. Disconnecting the battery also may require one to reset their clock time and reprogram the saved radio stations on the radio deck/head unit buttons.
 

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its either just corrosion, or its leaking battery acid and its causing the metal to corrode. so corrosion or corrosion. or cocainum? how are the terminal connections seated? are they nice and tight? did you clean the inside of the connectors as well as the terminals on the battery? might just be time for a new battery.
 

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2006 Corolla XRS
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If the copper is turning green under the insulation, then the growth has damaged the positive cable. The growth of corrosion will spread if left untreated or repaired. At some point, it will be a major headache like I dealt with.

Clean the terminal with baking soda and water. You want it to be a paste state. Apply it and allow it to take the corrosion off.

If the battery housing is cracked just a little bit, it will be the issue. Remove the battery and inspect for swelling. When the battery swells, that's not a good thing. Get it replaced with a fresher battery.
 

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2018 RAV4 LE
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I have always had good results with those red & green felt discs you buy and place over the battery terminals. After a good cleaning I've yet to have corrosion return on any of the many batteries I've used them on. If it does return you might have a more serious problem as others have mentioned.
 

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Just clean up the terminals and keep an eye on it. A lot of "white stuff" might also indicate time for a battery change.
 

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Black 07 Corolla CE
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I put a penny between the terminals. It worked. When I put LEDs in for headlights, I noticed my terminals getting corroded. Someone mentioned that copper acts like a "catcher" for the corrosion. Now the penny gets corroded and the terminals look fine. Still on my first penny, but it doesn't look like a penny anymore. (science)
 

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If the copper is turning green under the insulation, then the growth has damaged the positive cable. The growth of corrosion will spread if left untreated or repaired. At some point, it will be a major headache like I dealt with.

Clean the terminal with baking soda and water. You want it to be a paste state. Apply it and allow it to take the corrosion off.

If the battery housing is cracked just a little bit, it will be the issue. Remove the battery and inspect for swelling. When the battery swells, that's not a good thing. Get it replaced with a fresher battery.
Why does the battery swell?
 

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Heat causes the case to swell. It's happened to me. I live in the southwest and see summer temps above 100 degrees fahrenheit.

It shortens the battery life naturally. When I lived in California, I could see 4-5 year battery life. Now, it's cut in half. If the battery was fresh enough off the shelf (most current manufacture date), I'd be seeing 3 years maybe close to 4.

The other thing to consider is the condition of the battery terminals and how clean they are.
 

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Heat causes the case to swell. It's happened to me. I live in the southwest and see summer temps above 100 degrees fahrenheit.

It shortens the battery life naturally. When I lived in California, I could see 4-5 year battery life. Now, it's cut in half. If the battery was fresh enough off the shelf (most current manufacture date), I'd be seeing 3 years maybe close to 4.

The other thing to consider is the condition of the battery terminals and how clean they are.

Cold weather can make it freeze and completely die. A lot of people do not know batteries can freeze and if you try to jump them at that state they blow up, or well they can blow up.

Weather is a huge factory for batteries and if you live in a place by the ocean it can help speed up the corrosion process.
 

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Heat causes the case to swell. It's happened to me. I live in the southwest and see summer temps above 100 degrees fahrenheit.

It shortens the battery life naturally. When I lived in California, I could see 4-5 year battery life. Now, it's cut in half. If the battery was fresh enough off the shelf (most current manufacture date), I'd be seeing 3 years maybe close to 4.

The other thing to consider is the condition of the battery terminals and how clean they are.
+1... High OAT is a HUGE battery killer, because it causes the water in the battery to evaporate more quickly. This is why learning to service your battery with fresh distilled water is especially important in hot environments. I'd wager youd see battery life in the 5+ year range again if you tried to service it at least once annually.

Cold weather can make it freeze and completely die. A lot of people do not know batteries can freeze and if you try to jump them at that state they blow up, or well they can blow up.

Weather is a huge factory for batteries and if you live in a place by the ocean it can help speed up the corrosion process.
A clarification: the freeze point of the sulfuric acid changes with the state of charge (SOC) of the battery. A fully charged battery wont freeze until around -70 F (-56 C). The closer a battery is to being completely discharged, the closer the electrolyte is to plain water, which lowers the freezing point.

A fully charged, or almost fully charged battery, will almost never freeze. But you are correct that they can freeze if their SOC gets too low. This is another reason why it is so critical to keep a battery maintainer (also called a float or trickle charger) hooked up to your battery during times of extended disuse.
 

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+1... High OAT is a HUGE battery killer, because it causes the water in the battery to evaporate more quickly. This is why learning to service your battery with fresh distilled water is especially important in hot environments. I'd wager youd see battery life in the 5+ year range again if you tried to service it at least once annually.



A clarification: the freeze point of the sulfuric acid changes with the state of charge (SOC) of the battery. A fully charged battery wont freeze until around -70 F (-56 C). The closer a battery is to being completely discharged, the closer the electrolyte is to plain water, which lowers the freezing point.

A fully charged, or almost fully charged battery, will almost never freeze. But you are correct that they can freeze if their SOC gets too low. This is another reason why it is so critical to keep a battery maintainer (also called a float or trickle charger) hooked up to your battery during times of extended disuse.
With the way the world has been a lot of people up in Canada during our little deep freeze me had ran into the freezing problem as a lot of people had not been driving their cars. Another issue coming out of that is the alternator takes a beating and a lot of people found this year they had to replace both. It was crazy.
 
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