Why Are My Battery Terminals Corroded?

It’s not uncommon to open your hood to the unsightly scene of corroded battery cables/terminals, with whitish-blue crystals seemingly growing from parts of your battery. This is a frequent occurrence in cars despite the worrying appearance, but still doesn’t mean it should be ignored.

What’s Leaking From My Battery?

The bright crystals developing on the battery terminals result from a chemical reaction. Automotive batteries take chemical energy and convert it to electrical energy to be used by your vehicle, however, this process causes the sulfuric acid inside to release hydrogen gas. This hydrogen mixes with the outside air, moisture, and salt causing a corrosive reaction. 

Corrosion will be easy to spot with its powdery texture and bright blue/green color and will typically build up on the battery’s posts, terminals, or cables.

Corroded battery terminal
MarkBuckawicki, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Why is Battery Corrosion an Issue?

While this corrosion buildup isn’t necessarily harmful immediately on its own, allowing it to continue to grow and corrode the crucial battery connections can lead to frustrating issues if left unaddressed. 

As the chalky crystals continue to accumulate, it can cause incomplete connections in the battery and charging system leading to unpredictable electrical issues. Not only can it create blockages between electrical connections, it can corrode the cables or terminals so badly as to permanently damage them beyond repair. 

What Causes Battery Corrosion?

Leaking Casing

Maybe the most obvious cause of corrosive battery acid leaking from its casing and corroding is, well… a leak. These can occur for a multitude of reasons, but any physical damage to your battery may lead to leaks developing and subsequently corrosive compounds building up on the terminals. 

There’s no one specific reason your battery casing may crack, as this can occur due to impact, weather, or age. Unfortunately, a battery with physical damage will need to be replaced and cannot be repaired. 


The battery and charging system in your vehicle is a delicate balance, as either overcharging or undercharging the battery cells can cause adverse effects. Whether this be due to a fault alternator, voltage regulator, or other component, improper charging will lead to corrosion in the future. 

When overcharging the battery, the sulfuric acid and water mix in the battery will begin to boil. This gas can build up in the casing and cause unsafe pressure as well as corrosion buildup on the terminals. 

Corrosion from overcharging will often accumulate on the positive terminal, while undercharging does the opposite and usually appears on the negative terminal. If you suspect a charging problem in your vehicle, an automotive professional can test the outputs of the charging system and give you a comprehensive answer on the next step. 

Alternator in engine bay


One of the largest contributors to corrosion in car batteries everywhere is overheating. When these batteries reach high temperatures, they begin to boil and evaporate internally in a similar way to overcharging. This also leads to the same issues, with corrosion building up on the terminals and cables. 

High heat in combination with overcharging is the ultimate battery killer and should be avoided entirely. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your electrical system over the summer.

How Do I Clean My Battery Terminals and Cables?

Cleaning your battery connections is a relatively simple process and will prevent any disruptions from corrosion buildup. 

Clean car battery

Step 1: Gear Up 

If you haven’t already gathered that, battery acid and its corrosive byproducts are not something you’d want on you. Gearing up with protective eyeglasses and thick rubber or latex gloves is the best way to avoid getting these chemicals where they shouldn’t be. It’s important to remember to wash any corrosive material that gets on your clothes or skin immediately.

Step 2: Remove Cables From Terminals

Begin removing the cables from the battery, starting with the negative terminal. After releasing the clamp, move the cable far away from the battery to prevent it from slipping back onto the terminal. Repeat the same process for the positive terminal. If you’re using a battery memory saver, make sure that’s plugged in and active before disconnecting.

Step 3: Begin Cleaning

This can be done with the battery still bolted down, but for maximum safety remove the battery from the vehicle and place it in a shallow tray to catch debris. Using a wire brush (or an old toothbrush), begin scrubbing the powdery substance from the terminals and cable ends. Because this kicks up significant dust, it’s best to do this in a well-ventilated area and use a fan to circulate air. 

Step 4: Finish and Neutralize

Now that we’ve removed the big stuff, it’s time to get our battery terminals looking like new and neutralize the corrosive gunk. For this, you can use either a battery terminal-specific cleaning solution or a DIY mixture of baking soda and water. Dip a rag in the chosen cleaning solution and start wiping the terminals and surrounding areas to get the remaining residue removed. When clean, repeat this on the cables or dip the tips into the neutralizing solution to ensure all corrosive buildup is gone. 

Step 5: Dry and Reconnect

When finished with your cleanup, follow up with a dry rag to polish and remove any lingering dust. Begin reconnecting the battery from the positive terminal first this time and tighten it securely, then repeat on the negative side. 

Congratulations, you now have a corrosion-free battery ready to fire right up in the morning!

How Can I Avoid Battery Corrosion?

Luckily, there are a few steps you can take proactively to protect yourself from harmful battery corrosion.

Have Your Charging System Tested Occasionally

As mentioned earlier, taking your vehicle to a trusted professional and having them test your charging system while taking care of your other general maintenance services is the best way to ensure your battery is not being over or undercharged. 

Protect Your Terminals

Using petroleum jelly, or an automotive-specific solution from any parts store, to cover your battery terminals provides great protection from corrosive compounds while giving you the strongest electrical connection possible. 

Battery & Electrical Services in Riverton, Utah

If you suspect an issue with your battery or charging system, bring it to the trusted experts at Matson Point S in Riverton. Our ASE Certified technicians will check each output and ensure the systems of your car are receiving the proper amount of power. 

Give us a call or schedule an appointment online with us today to talk with our friendly team and knowledgeable service advisors!


Why is My Exhaust Popping?

You’ve probably heard it before; a loud popping or banging sound comes from a vehicle passing by, ranging from a light pop to what could be mistaken for a gunshot depending on the severity of the issue or type of exhaust setup.

One of the main responsibilities of your exhaust is to help make your vehicle as quiet as possible. If you hear loud backfire and popping from your tailpipe and don’t have it set up to do that intentionally, it can be concerning.

While some automotive enthusiasts will tune their vehicles to produce this popping sound in a (more) healthy and sustainable way for the motor and emissions equipment, the vast majority of the time it’s something that should be avoided and addressed promptly when it happens. 

So what’s making this noise occur, and will it cause any damage to your vehicle? In this article, we’ll go over these questions and what to do if you’re experiencing a similar issue!

What Makes Exhausts Pop?

Internal combustions rely on, well… internal combustion within the cylinder. When something goes wrong and one of these explosions happens externally instead, you get the loud banging sound we’re discussing.

This often happens when unburned fuel is able to escape through the exhaust valve. The fuel will make contact with the hot exhaust pipes, and eventually combust, creating a mini explosion within your exhaust. 

A similar issue occurs when combustion happens during the exhaust stroke as the exhaust valve is open. With the valve to the exhaust system being open, the combustion will be heard as a loud pop from the tailpipe. 

So, how does this happen in the first place? 

Causes of Exhaust Backfire

Rich Condition

When a vehicle is running “rich”, it means there is a surplus of fuel being added to the cylinders for combustion compared to the ratio of air. If running with an improper ratio, combustion will be slowed and there will be unburned fuel left in the cylinder.

This extra gasoline can combust either during the exhaust stroke or after the excess fuel has escaped into the exhaust system, causing the startling bang sound. 

Rich conditions are caused by various mechanical issues, including a failed mass airflow sensor, faulty O2 sensor, leaking injectors, and many more. If you’re experiencing a rich fuel mixture, avoid driving your vehicle and have it inspected by a trusted automotive professional.

Bad Timing

The timing system in an engine is responsible for keeping the four processes that need to occur for proper combustion in perfect synchronization. This is most often accomplished through the use of a belt or chain, but these can be knocked out of proper timing due to problems with the chain/belt itself or the tensioner. 

When any of these four strokes happen a tick early or late, it can cause problems with combustion. When full combustion has not occurred, there may be leftover fuel pushed into the exhaust system leading to backfire. 

Timing issues need to be taken very seriously, as they have the potential to cause catastrophic engine failure. 

Faulty Spark Plug(s)

Spark plugs play one of the most crucial roles in the combustion within an engine, creating ignition. These plugs rely on short electrical pulses to ignite the air/fuel mixture and push the piston. 

Spark plugs on orange towel
Myke2020, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


If the spark plugs or any accompanying electrical components such as fuses and wires encounter an issue it may leave unburned fuel within the combustion chamber. This fuel will either combust at the improper engine stroke or be pushed into the exhaust system and combust there. This issue may be accompanied by a misfire code from your check engine light. 

Exhaust Service & Repair at Matson Point S

If you’re looking for high-quality exhaust diagnostics, maintenance, and repair, the ASE Certified technicians at Matson Point S in Riverton, Utah have the expertise and equipment to properly take care of your vehicle! Give us a call or schedule online with us today.


What Are Glow Plugs in a Diesel?

Although gasoline and diesel engines both operate on similar principles, they have a variety of mechanical differences that make them unique from each other. One of these is the absence of spark plugs and the inclusion of glow plugs.

Why Don’t Diesel Engines Need Spark Plugs?

The answer comes down to how the combustion process happens in a diesel engine. Unlike gasoline, which needs an external spark to ignite in the combustion chamber, diesel engines rely on high compression to initiate combustion.  

Spark Plugs vs. Glow Plugs

So if diesel doesn’t need an electrical spark for combustion, what are glow plugs needed for? Glow plugs are only used for initial startup, as they heat the inside of the combustion chamber to the minimum temperature to get the engine started. Once the cycle begins, the heat for combustion is naturally generated in the compression of the diesel fuel. 

Diesel glow plug
Donar Reiskoffer, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons

How Does a Glow Plug Work?

Glow plugs are similar in shape to spark plugs, with one extending into each cylinder of the engine. Using a filament made of materials such as platinum or iridium, the glow plugs quickly turn red hot and heat the air within the combustion chamber. 

In older diesel vehicles, the glow plugs could require up to 20 seconds of manual activation to reach the proper temperature. This is less of an issue on newer diesels, where more advanced glow plugs can reach operating temperature in just a few seconds. 

Not all diesel engines need glow plugs, however. They’re primarily used on smaller diesel engines that cannot maintain the necessary heat for ignition. Many direct-injection diesel motors forgo glow plugs, as well as larger engines that have less trouble maintaining the right internal air temperature. 

Symptoms of Faulty Glow Plugs

  • Illuminated glow plug light
  • Trouble starting vehicle (especially in the cold)
  • Misfiring engine
  • White/black smoke from exhaust
  • Rough idle

How Often Should I Replace My Glow Plugs?

In general, modern glow plugs should be replaced anywhere between 80,000-100,000 miles. Their lifespan can depend on your vehicle, driving style, and various other factors. 

Glow plugs are also one of the cheaper engine components to replace, meaning you won’t have to break the bank to help ensure your diesel vehicle is running at its best. 

Glow Plug Replacement in the Salt Lake Valley

If you’re looking for quality diesel service and glow plug replacement, the ASE Certified technicians at Matson Point S in Riverton, Utah have the experience and equipment to properly take care of your vehicle! Call or schedule an appointment online with us today!

Why Does My Car Smell Like Rotten Eggs?

As cars are a daily part of most American’s lives, we tend to get very used to the way our specific vehicle drives, feels, looks, and even smells. This means it’s easy for most to notice small changes and issues in our vehicles immediately.

While most issues in cars affect how it feels to drive, you might also notice a change in how your vehicle smells. 

Vehicles produce a range of odors in countless ways, from the engine’s exhaust to the smell of burning oil or coolant. These smells might be noticeable, but they pale in comparison to the distinct odor of rotten eggs emanating from your vehicle. It’s hard to miss.

4 Reasons Your Car Might Smell of Sulfur/Rotten Eggs

Bad Catalytic Converter

A failed catalytic converter is by far the most common reason for this less-than-desirable odor from your vehicle. 

Catalytic converters are responsible for “cleaning” the engine’s emissions by removing harmful pollutants from exhaust gasses. 

The “rotten egg” smell is often a product of hydrogen sulfide, a pollutant byproduct from combustion engines. Usually, this compound is converted into odorless sulfur dioxide by the catalytic converter, however, when there has been a failure within the catalytic converter this conversion will not take place and allow for hydrogen sulfide to exit the exhaust system. 

A failed catalytic converter can lead to a host of issues, but the most immediately noticeable might be a strong sulfur smell. If you suspect yours might be failing, you should have the problem addressed by a trusted professional as soon as possible. Otherwise, your vehicle may experience engine misfires, reduced performance, or could even catch fire.

Catalytic converter

Leaking Manual Transmission Fluid 

While the catalytic converter might be responsible for most cases of rotten egg odor, leaking transmission fluid may also be the perpetrator. 

Your vehicle’s transmission fluid helps to cool, lubricate, and provide hydraulic pressure for your gears, however, the fluid often has a pungent smell similar to the hydrogen sulfide we talked about earlier.

This generally only happens on manual transmission vehicles, as older manual transmission fluids were often sulfur-based. 

The easiest way to check this is to ensure your transmission fluid level has not dropped significantly and that there are no visible leaks around the transmission pan. If you do have a leak, it should be taken care of as soon as possible to avoid damage to your transmission. 

Failed Fuel Pressure Sensor or Fuel Filter

The fuel pressure sensor helps regulate the amount of fuel within the fuel rail. When the sensor is experiencing issues, it may allow excess fuel to enter the engine and cause the vehicle to run rich.

With this extra fuel to burn, there will be more pressure put on the catalytic converter. This can clog the catalyst, and allow unfiltered fumes to make their way through the exhaust. 

This same issue can occur with a clogged fuel filter, as it can also lead to the vehicle running rich and allowing increased pollutants from your exhaust. 

Exhaust Leaks

If the exhaust has a leak prior to the catalytic converter, the fumes leaking out will contain the pungent hydrogen sulfide. 

Most exhaust leaks will also be accompanied by increased engine noise, as they allow for sound to exit the exhaust before reaching the resonator and muffler.

Fixing this may be as simple as patching a small crack in the exhaust manifold, or could require the replacement of an exhaust component. 

Rusty muffler

Exhaust Diagnostics and Repair in Riverton

If you’re experiencing a strange smell or sound from your exhaust system, don’t delay having it diagnosed and repaired by a trusted automotive professional. 

The ASE-certified technicians at Matson Point S in Riverton have the expertise and equipment to properly inspect and repair your exhaust! Call or schedule online with us today. 

What Does a Car’s Differential Do?

Unless you spend a lot of time under your car, understanding the intricacies of how power generated by the engine reaches the wheels can be difficult. Most people know the fundamentals of how an engine and transmission work, but an often overlooked but equally important part of the drivetrain is the differential. In this article, we will dive into the differential, the last stop before your car’s power reaches the wheels. 

What is a Differential?

To understand why our vehicles have differentials, consider a running track. Each runner has a lane they must maintain, but the inside of the track is a shorter distance than the ones on the outside. To avoid allowing this unfair advantage for the inside runner, the start lines of the lanes on the track are staggered in favor of the outside lanes to make up for the differences in distance.

Diagram of a running track

Now take that same principle and apply it to the wheels of a vehicle. The wheel, or “runner”, on the inside of the corner you’re taking will have a shorter distance to travel than the wheel on the outside. This would cause the outside wheels to essentially be “dragged” along at the same speed as the rest of the wheels and lead to poor handling and rapid tire wear as the outside tire slips. 

To make up for this difference, differentials act as the staggered lanes, giving the outside wheel the ability to spin at its rate to maintain grip and catch up with the inside wheel despite the differences in distance. 

How Many Differentials Do Cars Use?

Differentials take the power from the engine and transfer it to two separate sides (one for each wheel being driven). Since the non-driven wheels can spin freely naturally, the differential is only connected to whichever two wheels receive power. Due to this, the majority of vehicles only use a single differential. 

The exception for this is all-wheel drive (AWD) and four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicles. AWD and full-time 4WD systems employ three differentials, one between each set of wheels and one in the center of the two axles (as each axle also spins at an independent speed). 

Vehicles with part-time 4WD systems only use two differentials, and instead use a transfer case between the axles rather than a center differential. Due to this limitation, part-time 4WD vehicles struggle to handle regular streets in 4×4 mode, as the two axles are not able to spin independently. 

Types of Differentials

There are a few types of differentials out there with varying purposes you should know.

Open Differential

The most common type, open differentials uses a tried and true design that allows each wheel to spin at its speed. The sole function of this type of differential is to provide comfortable handling and limit tire wear.

Open differentials are the type of differential used on the majority of commuter vehicles due to their simple design and ability to allow the wheels to spin at different speeds at all times. 

An open differential is made up of two halves, each connected to one side of the axle and each with a gear at the end (side gears). These gears are joined in the center of the differential with spider gears, which are small gears that allow each side to rotate individually, even if one side is spinning faster than the other. The whole system is driven from the driveshaft through the ring gear and drive pinion. 

Differential diagram
Pearson Scott Foresman, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Locking Differential

Take everything we’ve said about differentials and throw it out the window. Locking differentials are a special type of differential almost exclusively used in off-road vehicles, and their purpose is to do the opposite of what a traditional differential does. A locking differential ensures that each wheel is always spinning at the same speed. 

While this may seem counterintuitive, they’re perfect solutions for certain situations. Open differentials are great for when each wheel can find traction, but what about when traction is hard to come by? Locking differentials allows 100% of the torque to be used by the only wheel that has any traction. This is useful for off-roading and other low-traction situations where you want to maximize the effect of any traction you can find. 

Limited Slip Differential (LSD)

LSDs are the best of both worlds. They allow for each wheel to spin at its rate, but also allow for torque to be distributed to the side with superior traction. Different types of LSDs detect changes in traction in different ways, but the general idea remains the same. 

LSDs are primarily found in sports cars with a focus on handling performance, as their torque-distributing abilities help provide maximum grip and control through hard cornering, especially at higher speeds. 

Differential & Drivetrain Service at Matson Point S

If you’re experiencing handling problems, noises when cornering, or other signs of a problem in your differential, trust the expert technicians at Matson Point S to take care of you! Call or schedule online with us today for high-quality differential and drivetrain services!

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