Cleaning your Battery Tray

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While it may sound like an odd part of your SHO to maintain, the battery tray is exposed to potential leakage from the battery and tends to corrode over time. If this is left untreated it can result in rust/corrosion of your fender well, or worse yet - damage to part of the AC system (the receiver/dryer assembly is just below the battery), either of which could then result in a severe lightening of your wallet.

Thanks to Hugo Teufel :

Given all the talk on exhaust theory and other significant issues, I thought as a counterpoint I'd post something far more mundane - cleaning and repainting the battery tray and bracket.

I have been observing over time the deterioration of the paint on the battery bracket and tray and the resulting rusting of these parts. I'd been meaning to get to this for a while, but always other, more pressing issues had arisen. This time, however, when it became obvious that I needed to clean the IAB and replace the thermostat, I decided to procrastinate and do the tray and bracket instead. (The thermostat and IAB are scheduled for tomorrow. A report will follow.)

Tools needed:

1/2" wrench - for the battery cables and bolt that attaches the bracket to the "tab" on the passenger side.

10mm wrench - for every other nut or bolt.

11mm wrench - for the one net that had to be of a different size than the other metric nuts or bolts.

I started by removing the bracket which holds down the top right side of the battery. The bracket is held in place by two long, moveable "bolts" that go through openings in the front and back of the tray bending sharply upward, and are held in place by flanges on their ends. The nuts should both be 10mm. One was 11mm. (?!?) I removed the nuts and went on to the bolt that attaches the bracket to "tab" on the fender well. This bolt is 1/2". You gotta love Ford: they use inch and metric nuts and bolts, doubling the sales of tools. The "tab" is itself attached to the fender well by two 10mm bolts. I removed the tab and then undid the battery cables.

Now you are ready for the battery tray. The tray is held on by three bolts, all 10mm. Two are lower down on the tray, attaching it vertically to the fender well. These bolts are difficult to reach. I recommend softening up these bolts first with WD40. The third bolt is on the top of the tray, attached horizontally to the fender well. Unfortunately, this bolt is at the bottom of a "drain" well on the tray and, if your tray was like mine, the bolt will be moderately to severely rusted. A lot of WD40 and some time, and this bolt loosened.

Upon removal of all parts, I examined them and the fender well. The top of the tray and bracket had a lot of rust, the "tab" a little. Most importantly, the well had no rust though there was a small spot without paint. (I'm uncertain whether the battery acid did this or whether it was 6 1/2 years of rubbing or vibration.) I wire brushed off as much as possible of the rust and then applied naval jelly to any remainder. After I removed as much rust as possible, I cleaned off the parts and let them dry. When dry, I applied two coats of semi-gloss black paint to the parts and let them dry. When the parts were dry, I reassembled them and reattached the battery. (Note: the Ford alarm went off upon reattachment!)

Moral of the story: Don't let the mundane, routine maintenance get away from you. Early intervention would have saved these parts. No intervention, and I would have had a rusted bracket, tab, tray and, most importantly, the fender well. As it is, I've only extended the remaining life of the tray, bracket and tab. At some point, I'll have to replace them.

One other thing: I've always been very good at keeping the engine bay clean. With the upcoming brake/suspension upgrade, I've been using a lot of engine degreaser, etc. to get the suspension, brakes, and undercarriage clean. I was very surprised to find quite a bit of grease in and around the tray upon its removal. Like the price of liberty, the price of a clean engine and bay is eternal vigilance.

Don Mallison had this to add :

Eastwood sells a great rubberized black coating made specifically for the battery tray and hold-downs. It has a semi-gloss finish that looks right, and seems to last longer than regular paint since it's designed to resist battery acid better.

Proper preparation of the metal parts is essential for any paint to stick in the toxic environment around the battery. Take all parts to shiny bare metal and use a paint prep wash on them and wipe carefully before painting. A good etching primer before either paint or using the Eastwood coating will help things stick.

Eastwood Company can be reached at: 800-345-1178.

Get on their mailing list if you ever do any repair or maintainance on cars, they offer a great selection at fair prices.

The Eastwood web site is at: EastWoodco.com