Three novel Schiff bases compounds were prepared and their structures were characterized by X-ray, 13C-NMR, 1H-NMR, mass, UV–Vis, FT-IR, spectral data and elemental analyses. The corrosion inhibition of the investigated inhibitors towards carbon steel in 15% HCl was investigated by using electrochemical measurements (EIS, LPR corrosion rate and Tafel plots), SEM, EDX and quantum chemical methods. The results showed that, the inhibitors are efficient mixed type corrosion inhibitors, and their inhibition performance increased with the rise of inhibitor concentration and temperature. The adsorption of the inhibitors on steel surface was found to obey Langmuir's adsorption isotherm and chemisorption. Quantum chemical calculations provide good support to empirical results.