Car Repair and Maintenance

How To Clean Electrical Contacts in Car

Electrical contacts play a crucial role in a car’s electrical system, transmitting signals and power from one component to another. Over time, these electrical contacts can become dirty and corroded, which can affect the performance of your car. That’s why it’s important to regularly clean these electrical contacts to ensure that your car’s electrical system is functioning properly.

How to clean electrical contacts in car

How to clean electrical contacts in car

Here are the steps to clean electrical contacts in your car, so you can keep your car running smoothly.

1. Use specialized cleaners

To keep contacts clean and free of debris, there are several specialized cleaners available. It is important to select a brand that has a strong reputation and has been deemed safe to use. Following the recommended instructions is crucial to ensure the preservation of the components.

One highly recommended option is WD-40 Specialist Contact Cleaner Spray,which is also effective in cleaning bird poop from car. This product effectively cleans areas that are prone to water and debris buildup. Its ability to penetrate even stubborn corrosion makes it a reliable solution when other cleaners fail. The convenient nozzle ensures that it can reach even the most difficult-to-access areas.

With this type of cleaner, you can improve electrical conductivity and reduce the risk of short circuits. The rapidly evaporating non-conductive formula leaves no residue, thereby safeguarding rubber, plastic, and metal surfaces

2. Use baking soda and water

The combination of baking soda and water is a popular solution for cleaning battery terminals and contacts. Its preparation is effortless, and its application is straightforward. Although it is viable for cleaning other electrical connections, let’s concentrate on the optimal method for utilizing it on battery terminals and connectors.

To clean battery terminals and connectors using baking soda and water:

  1. Loosen the bolts that secure the cables to the posts using pliers or a wrench.
  1. Detach the negative cable first. This cable is black and is marked with a “–” sign.
  1. Followed by the positive cable, which is typically red and is marked with a “+” sign.
  1. Mix baking soda and water, or sprinkle baking soda directly on the posts and connectors.
  1. Pour a small amount of water over the baking soda to cause it to fizz.
  1. Scrub the posts and connectors with a stiff brush, making sure to wear gloves to protect your hands from irritation.
  1. Add more baking soda and water as needed.
  1. Rinse the cleaned area with distilled water.
  1. Dry the area with a clean microfiber towel.
  1. Reconnect the electrical cables to the appropriate battery posts, starting with the red positive cable and ending with the black negative cable.
  1. Tighten the connectors securely

This solution also cleans any sticky steering wheel, making it look factory-new.

3. Clean with rubbing alcohol

A tiny quantity of alcohol can be utilized to clean electrical contacts and eliminate dirt and other impurities. This is an effective alternative to using acetone, which similarly removes contamination from the connectors.

Alcohol and acetone both effectively dissolve residue, carbon, and oil and they have a high evaporation rate per EcoLink. Although some people resort to using brake cleaner for this purpose, it is not recommended as it poses a risk to the electrical connectors and can cause cracks in any plastic components it comes into contact with.

4. Compressed air

If the contacts are clogged with debris, compressed air may be the most effective solution. You have the option of using canned compressed air or utilizing your home air tank to clear out the dirt. Additionally, compressed air can prove useful while attempting other methods. When steps necessitate moistening the area, you can use compressed air to dry the surface prior to reconnecting the contacts 

5. Get a sandpaper

A small piece of fine sandpaper, no larger than 1” x 2”, can be used to remove debris and imperfections from the connector pins. Some individuals also opt for a pencil eraser, which functions similarly. Proper execution of this step will result in a clean and shiny contact.

After sanding, it is recommended to gently brush the connector with a toothbrush or other abrasive to remove any sanding debris. To complete the cleaning process, a cleaner such as alcohol or vinegar can be used. Just ensure that the connectors are thoroughly dried before reassembling the components.

Read also: the procedure that expels mice from garage

Can you clean electrical components in car?

The accumulation of dirt, grime, and dust on electrical components such as battery terminals, ignition, and spark plugs can result in reduced power and engine performance due to impaired electrical connections. In severe cases, it can even cause a sudden breakdown while driving.

Routine cleaning of these electrical parts can prevent permanent damage and corrosion, ensuring the optimal performance of your vehicle. Although water should not be used to clean electrical components, there are various safe cleaning products available. We will provide further details on these products in a later section of this guide.

Signs that electrical contacts need cleaning


To ensure that your car is running smoothly, it is important to keep your electrical contacts clean and in good working order. Here are some signs that your electrical contacts need cleaning:

1. Dashboard warning light

When electrical issues occur, warning lights on the dashboard may appear, even if the specific component appears to be functioning properly. If no noticeable problems can be found during an inspection of your vehicle, examine the wiring and electrical contact points for any signs of wear or damage.

2. Poor engine performance

If the alternator is not efficiently charging the battery, it can result in unreliable engine performance such as stalling, difficulty starting, and a decrease in power. To minimize the risk of engine issues caused by electrical malfunctions, it is important to regularly maintain clean battery connections.

3. Faded headlights or other electrical issues

Is your visibility diminished when using your headlights at night? Are your electric windows operating slower than normal? The cause may be a contaminated or corroded connection, so inspect your wiring to determine the source of the problem.


Cleaning electrical contacts in your car is a simple but important task that can help to maintain the proper functioning of your vehicle’s electrical systems. By following these steps, you can effectively remove dirt, grime, and corrosion from the electrical contacts, ensuring that they are free to conduct electricity and keep your car running smoothly.

Latest posts by Bernard Juchli (see all)

Bernard Juchli

Bernard Juchli is an experienced racer, mechanic and team owner who trusts Avon Tyres.Bernard is the lead driver and force behind his Big Dog Garage Race Team. He is the General Manager and Chief Mechanic of Jay Leno’s Garage. Bernard and his crew of seven are responsible for all repairs, restoration and fabrication of Jay’s incredible automobile and motorcycle collection.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button