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Bear with me, there’s science behind this one. There’s a chemical for just about every single situation you can encounter under a hood (some of them more effective than others). However, when it comes to cleaning that scaly crap off your battery, the creme de la creme is something you probably have in your fridge. Nothing I’ve heard of cleans battery acid residue better, and this isn’t exactly expensive stuff. There’s a bit of a catch: cola has all kinds of ions floating in it, so it does conduct electricity, but not well enough to burn out your battery. Still, cleaning one terminal at a time is a safe bet.

It should be said, for the happiness of the Toolmonger legal department, that fizzy beverages are no substitute for most automotive chemicals. Mythbusters fans probably remember what happened when Adam and Jamie used cola as coolant. If you haven’t seen that one, well… let’s just say don’t do it!

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15 Responses to Cheap-Ass Tools: Coca-Cola

  1. Kris says:

    Hmm…haven’t tried this, always used baking soda & H2O. I’ll have to give this a try next time.

    Would Diet Coke work just as well?

  2. Bob says:

    It works really well if you coat the battery with powdered Mentos.

  3. MattW says:

    copper wire + galvanized nail + glass of Coca Cola = 1.3V battery. Coca Cola is a better battery acid than Pepsi (I can’t remember what voltage Pepsi provided, but it was significantly less).

    Technically, shipments of Coca Cola should be regulated under hazardous material shipment laws, since the pH is low enough to classify it as an acid shipment.

  4. Scott says:

    Baking soda and water is even less expensive and more effective. Rinse the battery well when done. Make sure the cell caps are tight before you start. An old toothbrush helps.

    Drink the coke when you are done.

  5. Shopmonger says:

    But not as cool,, and the cola will also help clean your engine, let it stand for about 10 minutes…..only on cool engine……please do not let evaporate… then rinse with water……

    Fun Stuff

    ASk Sean about Dr Pepper and Paint?


  6. John says:

    I remember watching my dad clean the battery terminals with Coke when I was a kid 20-someodd years ago. We went on a special trip to the 7-11 to pick up one 12oz bottle, glass back then, and it was a treat to drink the remaining bit after he was done. I was also the designated wrench holder/retriever during the maintenance that afternoon. We did a lot that day, included an AC charge (dad was a commercial AC tech in a previous life, I got to hold the manifold and read off the pressures as needed) and engine cleaning with spray chemicals (gunk brand engine degreaser, nasty stuff) followed by a hose down with the garden hose. Subsequent troubleshooting of rough running was found to be water in the distributer cap, which he blew out with compressed air. It was the first time I remember my dad had me help out instead of staying away while he was working. ahh memories.

  7. kdp says:


    I’ve got a one year old and last weekend let him ‘help’ daddy put security locks on the bathroom cabinets. He even brought along his own tools.

    Of course the job took four times as long as it would have without his help, but that’s the kind of stuff i wouldn’t trade for anything. I’m just looking forward to the time when he graduates to holding/retrieving/asking about tools instead of putting them in his mouth.

    Congrats on having a good dad. That’s what I hope to be.


  8. John says:

    Yeah, I have a 2.5 year old son now and can’t wait for him to help me wrench under the car or help out in the shop building some furniture. I hope to pass on the fix-it mentality to him that I got from my dad. I also want to get my 9 month old daughter involved as well and balance out the girly influences from all around (media, gender bias, sterotypes, etc. down with the pink and princess everything) with some hands on skills/experiences as well. I fully believe everyone should know some basics that are becoming lost arts or mysteries today. My kids WILL be able to change a tire, change the oil/fluids in the car (windshield washer, brake, transmission, coolant as well as motor oil), basic woodworking (build a box/birdhouse from wood), basic plumbing (toilet fixing, faucet stuff (washers, replacment, etc)), and basic electrical (replace switch/outlet. add circuit to breaker box, run wire). And they’ll get some of my day job skills as well, computer networking (run wire, crimp, switch/router config, os management (windows AND linux), DB basics, programming basics, etc) Or at least they should have the do it yourself mentality and appreciate the skills of the people they hire to do stuff they don’t want to do.

  9. Dustbuster7000 says:

    “Technically, shipments of Coca Cola should be regulated under hazardous material shipment laws, since the pH is low enough to classify it as an acid shipment.”

    Except of course its not hazardous, otherwise they would have to ship it that way. Coke, and all other sodas, are so diluted with water that the greatest hazard they present in shipping is their weight, ie what happens is all the cans/bottles fell off the truck. pH tells you only an acid’s strength, not whether its dangerous. For comparison, lemon juice is a stronger acid than Coke.

  10. Cameron Watt says:

    After you clean your battery, put Vaseline on the terminals before hooking it back up to prevent future corrosion in the connection. Every battery I clean, service or install gets this treatment. You will never have to fuss with a bad connection again.

    I had an old-timer tell me that he would paint the terminals and connectors after assembling them but have never tried it; the Vaseline works well enough.

    By the way: I was the brunt of a few jokes (actually, the same dirty joke over and over) the day that a co-worker spotted the tub in my toolbox. 🙂

  11. Brad Justinen says:

    I use Coke to remove the remaining black oxide after electrolytic rust removal (aka magic).

    If your scratching your head then here is the link:


  12. Toolboss says:

    Leave a can of Coke open overnight; when it’s good and flat, pour liberally across your windshield. Sprinkle Bon Ami* brand kitchen sink cleanser across the wet glass, then scrub with a plain clean wet sponge. You will remove any trace of rubber buildup and streaks from older wiper blades, and a good rinse then proper application of Rain-X will mean you won’t have to use your wipers for the next two months or so.

    In the dry Midwest this time of year, you also will be able to clean off the big bug splats, very easily.

  13. Chris says:


    In sort, most of the old wives’ tales about Coke are just that: old wives’ tales. Even the concentrated syrup (which is what’s trucked around; they don’t truck Coke-the-beverage in tankers in part because it would get shaken up and explode) is so low in phosphoric acid content as to be mostly harmless.


  14. Mac says:

    Coke would be pretty far down my list of things to use. You have to rinse off the coke, or you’ll be left with corn syrup and then probably ants/bugs on your battery. 🙂

    Clean the posts with a wire brush, then use baking soda/water. Seal with vasoline or dielectric grease. Permatex makes a spray that works very well too, but it’s not worth the price IMHO.

  15. Ajay says:

    Coca Cola does nothing for a battery accept make a mess!!!

    As a career shop manager who encounters all the silly mistakes people make with their cars, I have seen the aftermath of folks having done this many times over the course of 15 years.

    It all started when some low intelligence individual heard that putting Soda on his battery would neutralize acid.

    He didn’t quite understand that it is supposed to be BAKING SODA – NOT A CAN OF SODA!!!!!

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