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I just replaced a 5-year-old maintenance-free AGM battery (Varta silver dynamic 95Ah 850CCA), and the only precaution I took was to wear latex examination gloves. (The car is also only 5 years old).

On the one hand, many YouTube tutorial videos by mechanics show them changing the battery with their bare hands. The only precaution they take is to ensure the negative terminal connector is disconnected first and re-connected last, but no precautions regarding chemical issues.

On the other hand, many web sites talk about the necessity of using safety googles or face shields, nitrile gloves, and even nitrile boots and aprons. They warn about the possibility of the battery gas vent splitting out tiny drops of acid, general battery acid leakage, and the danger of terminal corrosion causing burns to clothing and to skin.

  1. Are the risks of chemical burns very rare when dealing with modern, intact AGM car batteries? How can I reason about the level of risk I'm taking?

  2. Do I need to be worried about any corrosion dust from cleaning the battery terminals? I used a synthetic scouring pad to clean the terminals. There were no obvious corrosion flakes, but I wonder if there is harmful corrosion dust and whether I need to clean all of my tools somehow so that there is no risk to my skin when I use my tools with my bare hands in the future.

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  • Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! Dec 20, 2022 at 22:58

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You should have no fear of AGM batteries. They don't leak. They cannot spill even if broken, because the electrolyte (acid) is contained with in the glass matting. Quoting from this website:

These are also called "starved electrolyte", as the mat is about 95% saturated rather than fully soaked. That also means that they will not leak acid even if broken.

AGM batteries have several advantages over both gelled and flooded, at about the same cost as gelled:

Since all the electrolyte (acid) is contained in the glass mats, they cannot spill, even if broken.

You can look further on that page, but really, you should have no fear of changing out an AGM battery as far as getting acid on you. I rarely fear getting acid on me when considering lead-acid ones. You just have to be cognizant of what you're doing.

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  • Thanks - and just to complete the answer - what about corrosion dust from the terminals of the old battery? How hazardous is that? Dec 21, 2022 at 2:27
  • @AndrewParks - Lead is lead. Don't breathe it in and you're fine. Wash it off your hands and you should be good to go. However ... I'm not a doctor, so take it for what it's worth. Dec 21, 2022 at 3:10

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