This is the part of a battery that you attach wires to in order to get the electricity out, or put it back in. Battery terminal can also mean the part of the wire that attaches to the terminal on the battery. You might call that the batter terminal clamp, also.
Cars also have battery terminals - both on the car battery and on the wire that attaches to the battery. The battery terminal clamp on my car is the star of this story.
I was on my way to a party at my boss's house. On the way there, I stopped to get gas. After filling the tank, the car would not start. The battery seemed fine - prior to turning the engine over, the radio and clock seemed to be operating normally. But when I turned the ignition to start the engine, nothing happened, and the electricity to the radio and clock died too.
Figuring that my older car's battery was dying, I figured I'd get a jump start. I enlisted an elderly couple's assistance in jump starting. As I was in the car, I could not see what was going on. The older gentleman was messing with the jumper cables that I had correctly attached. As I turned my ignition, the electrical system was behaving oddly, but eventually, the car started up.
Cryptically, the gentleman mentioned I should use vinegar (or was that ammonia) and clean up the battery terminals. I took a look at the battery. One of the terminals was totally covered in a whitish goo, which I assume is a by product of battery acid-assited corrosion. I had seen it before, but never this bad.
As I proceeded to wipe off this goo, I noticed that the metal making up the clamp itself was badly corroded, to the point of falling apart. "No problem," I thought to myself, "I will get to the autoparts store, and buy a replacement terminal."
There was plenty of time before the party, so I drove to the local autoparts store, and bought a replacement battery terminal clamp. This was pretty cheap, around $3. Then I attempted to remove the corroded clamp. It crumbled in my hands, so now it became a battery terminal stump. However, the bolt that attached it to the wire was also corroded - to the point of becoming one chunk of metal instead of a bolt. As time was running out, I MacGyver'd a solution, using the wire attachment bolt on the new, replacement terminal to clamp on to the now-battery terminal stump, forming a reasonable electrical connection which was enough to allow engine ignition.
Then I proceeded to drive to the party, and a reasonably good time was had by all. The car even started up on the way back home. During this part of the ordeal, my wife was sitting by my side, demonstrating great patience. The second part of this adventure is a solitary one, as my wife was busy attending to the child which will be mentioned in passing below.
The next day, we left for a two week trip through China and Japan in which we retrieved our son from my in-laws. During the latter part of this trip, I concocted my plan for a more final solution to the battery terminal clamp/stump problem. I was going to go to my local Home Depot and purchase a Dremel power tool. Using this fine tool, I will cut off the offending bolt/chunk, allowing the removal of the battery terminal stump, and I would replace it with the replacement battery terminal clamp.
Once I got home, I set my plan into action. I drove to Home Depot and purchased the said tool. I drove home, and proceeded to remove the jury rigged replacement clamp. To my horror, the corrosion had returned, turning my replacement clamp into a corroded clamp. When I attempted to loosed the wire attachment bolt on the new/corroded clamp, the whole assembly snapped in half. Horror! Now I had a double battery terminal stump contraption with no clamp - useless for its task of completing the car's electrical circuit. I did, however, have my Dremel, and the jumper cable - and an indomitable will. I formulated Plan B. I had to once again MacGyver a connection to allow engine ignition, allowing me to drive once again to the autoparts store to buy a second replacement battery terminal clamp. This was done with spare pieces of broken battery terminal stumps. This did not allow engine ignition, but I was able to use the jumper cables to "self-jump" by bypassing the bad connection. This allowed me to get to the autoparts store to buy the said clamp. Somehow, the engine started again without the jumper cable, allowing me to drive home to complete the operation.
I took apart the offending assembly, and spent the next 45 minutes using the Dremel tool's cut-off wheel. During the operation, hot metal sparks flew, landing on my left forearm with surprisingly little pain. Afterwards, I noticed little metal flecks all over my arm. Once the offending bolt/chunk was removed, I was relieved to notice that the tab on the wire to which it was attached was not badly corroded. I bolted on the new clamp, and bolted the clamp once again to the battery. Now I was confident that everything was right in my car's electrical system. This proved to be the case, as my car proceeded to functional flawlessly.
This then allowed me to buy new tires, because my front left tire had an ominous bulge in the sidewall, but that is another story.
Upon reflection, I think this problem occured primarily due to an insecure electrical connection between the clamp and the terminal on the battery. This, I believe, in combination of the high humidity this summer in Boston led to the generation of corrosion on the assembly. With my now more secure connection, no corrosion is evident. I have also read on the internet that the application of grease to the assembly will likewise lessen the chance of corrosion.
Heed well my warning, fellow car owners! Inspect your battery terminal and battery terminal clamps!