Car batteries are devices that transform chemical energy into electricity. This means that the battery is filled with acid. A leaking battery is something that doesn’t happen very often. But, when it does, one can ask himself ”Is it safe to drive with a leaking battery?”
It is not safe to drive with a leaking battery because the sulfuric acid that is found in car batteries is dangerous for the car, the user, and for the environment. The battery acid will cause corrosion through oxidation on the engine components. It will not dissolve plastic because the battery case itself is made of plastic. If it starts leaking underneath the car, the sulfuric acid can dissolve limestone, cement, and concrete. If you get in contact with the sulfuric acid, you might end up with skin burns, irritated throat, and difficult breathing.
Is It Safe To Drive With a Leaking Battery
A car battery is a device that turns chemical energy into electricity. The car battery has cells and each cell has two plates. The plates are submerged in sulphuric acid. The sulphuric acid which is basically a catalyst triggers a reaction between the two plates which results in electrons being produced. The electrons move around the two plates and create electricity.
If your car battery is leaking, the acid inside is very dangerous for the car, the people, and the environment. The acid that is found inside the battery is sulfuric acid.
The sulfuric acid can burn through limestone, concrete, and cement. This means that if your car battery is leaking on your driveway, it will damage your concrete, cement, or limestone.
The sulfuric acid smells like rotten eggs. If you somehow don’t notice the leak and touch the acid, you might end up with a skin burn, difficulty breathing, and irritated throat. If you touch your eyes, you might end up blind.
As far as the vehicle components, the sulfuric acid will corrode any metal components found under the hood. The sulfuric acid will not burn any plastic because the battery case itself is made out of plastic.
You should safely remove the leaking car battery and take to the local recycling center for disposal.
What Causes a Battery Leak
Like I said before, a battery leak is something that doesn’t happen very often. But, it does happen sometimes. There are some things that can cause a battery to leak acid:
1. Damage to the battery case
The battery case is made of plastic. The case itself can get damaged during transportation or handling. The damage to the case could be very small, but over time it will get bigger from the engine vibrations. If the battery case is cracked, the sulfuric acid can leak out and your battery won’t work anymore.
2. Over-charging a battery
If your battery is dead and you want to recharge it, there are a couple of things that you need to know. The most important thing that you need to do is to charge your battery in an open space. When the battery charges, due to the chemical reaction happening inside, fumes are emitted and those fumes are dangerous for you. That’s why it’s important to charge the battery where those fumes can easily vent out.
The next important thing is to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation on battery charging time. You don’t want to overcharge your battery. If you overcharge your battery, hydrogen sulfide is produced and the top plastic part of the battery looks like it’s about to blow up. If your battery looks like that after charging, make sure to never use it.
3. Engine vibrations
If your car battery has even small damage on the case, even a crack so small that it’s hard to see with your bare eyes, over-time it will get damaged from engine vibrations. As we all know engines vibrate when they operate. Those small but constant vibrations will cause the crack to spread out over time. Also, driving over potholes is not helping the case.
Eventually, when your case is cracked enough, the acid will leak out, and not only will you have a damaged battery, but also damaged engine parts.
4. Corroded or damaged battery terminals
Sometimes the battery terminals, both negative and positive tend to corrode. Corroded terminals reduce electricity production by 30%. If you notice that your terminals are starting to corrode, disconnect the battery and clean the terminals with a wire brush.
Once you clean the terminals, spray them with anti-corrosion spray to prevent future corrosion. This is important because severely corroded terminals have a weaker structure and can crack from engine vibrations. If your terminals crack, the acid will escape from there.
How To Clean Up After Battery Leak
The acid inside of a battery is harmful to the people, car, and environment. The battery acid or sulfuric acid is very corrosive. It can burn your skin, contaminate your land and corrode anything that it has been leaked on. It is important that you clean up after a battery leak. Here is how:
1. Put on protective gear
Before you start, you have to put your protective gear on. You will need eye googles and rubber gloves. Also, make sure that your hands are not exposed, so wear a long shirt. The battery acid is dangerous to the skin and eyes so you have to be careful.
2. Inspect the leaked area before removing the battery
You need to inspect the area where the battery has leaked. If you have an acid leak on top of the battery where the terminals are, you must put baking soda on top of the battery to neutralize the acid. You will notice bubbling. Add baking soda as long as you see bubbles.
3. Remove the car battery
If you don’t have an acid leak on top of the battery, you can go ahead and remove the battery and place it in a plastic bag or a plastic container. I go with plastic because the battery acid can’t damage the plastic. Make sure that you secure the terminal clamps so they don’t touch the contaminated area.
4. Put baking soda to neutralize the acid
Now you will have to put baking soda on all places where the battery acid leaked to neutralize it. You will notice bubbling. Keep putting baking soda as long as you see bubbles. Once the bubbles stop, you are ready for the next step.
5. Wipe out the contaminated area
For this step, you can use a paper towel. You need to carefully wipe out all the acid and place the paper towels in a plastic bag or plastic container. You can put the paper towel in the same bag or container with the leaked battery.
6. Take your battery to a recycle center
Once the battery is secured into the plastic bag or plastic container, go to the local recycling center and dispose the battery. If your battery is leaking, it is no longer useful to you. It has to be disposed safely because it is dangerous.