How To Prevent Corrosion in Electrical Connections

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Bad Electrical Connections

A bad trailer connection, very corroded.
This electrical connection is pretty horrific. photo by Matt Wright, 2008

Your car has hundreds of electrical connections. These days, everything is controlled by some sort of electronic management. Each of these systems performs an important duty. Most of the electrical connections involved are well protected, but there are always a few that for one reason or another seem to be susceptible to corrosion. I can think of more than a couple of models that chronically developed leaks in the lower windshield trim that dripped water right on the fuse box. Not good.

If your car has an electrical connection that is bad, or a connection that you think could be susceptible to corrosion due to its proximity to the weather (especially plugs that are used to connect trailer lights), there is a simple way to keep them from corroding.

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Dielectric Grease

Protecting against corrosion using dielectric grease.
You'll need some dielectric grease and a q-tip or other applicator. photo by Matt Wright, 2008`

Lucky for us, corrosion has been an enemy of electrical connections for quite some time, and there is an easy, cheap solution to the problem. Dielectric grease acts as both a conductor of electricity and a shield against corrosion. Corrosion is caused by moisture coming into contact with the metal parts of anything electric. Because there is current passing through the metal connections - even if it's just a little - the connections attract and hold onto all sorts of little compounds. As these stuck compounds build up, they eventually break the connection between two electrical contacts. They do this by actually coming between the electrical lovers.

Dielectric grease, when applied correctly, will prevent almost all corrosion from starting. That's why it's a good idea to be proactive and protect any connections that you think might become corroded over time.

What You'll Need:

  • Dielectric grease, package size depends on how much work you have to do.
  • Q-tip or similar tool to use for application

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Applying the Corrosion Protection

Apply a good amount of grease to the connection.
Apply dielectric grease to the metal connections. photo by Matt Wright, 2008

Protecting your car's electrical connections against corrosion is quick and simple -- and cheap, just the way we like it.

  • It's a good idea to disconnect the negative battery terminal when doing any type of electrical work on your car.

First, you'll need to disconnect the plug or other electric components you will be protecting. If you're doing more than one connection, I suggest doing one at a time to avoid confusion. Most automotive plugs will only go into the proper socket, but it can still get a little confusing.

With the metal connections visible, squeeze a small amount of dielectric grease onto the Q-tip. Rub the grease over the entire metal surface of each connection. You don't need very much to do the job, but be sure to get a good layer all over. Plug your connection back together and you are now protected from the green monster of corrosion.