November 30, 2011

Using Coke to clean battery terminals

Now that winter is here, you might want to check the condition of your battery and its connections. 

Many customers have told me they pour Coke on the battery terminals to clean them if the engine will not crank.  I will agree that this works most of the time, but if you continue to do it, a film of sugar builds up between the battery terminal and the cable connection and then nothing will work. 

If you are having trouble with battery connections, take the cables off, clean everything with a wire brush, soak the cable terminals in a mixture of baking soda and water until all the corrosion is cleaned off, then wire brush everything again, reattach the cables, and put Vaseline on the connections so that battery acid cannot contact the metal again. 

As legend has it, Cadillac first put out a technical service bulletin in the 1960's that putting Vaseline on the battery connections was the best for keeping battery connections free from corrosion.


  1. Just make sure none of the soda gets inside the battery cells!
    And when changing a battery, clip a small 9 or 12 volt battery across the cable leads so the clock and radio settings don't get dumped. In most vehicles it also insures the computer doesn't get scrambled. You can also get a small "saver" that takes a 9 VDC battery and plugs into the lighter outlet and does the same thing, for 3 or 4 bucks plus the small battery.

  2. Then again, don't worry about unplugging the battery. You should already have a radio code if your radio is an anti-theft radio. If you don't you can call the dealer and they can give it to you. So if the battery is disconnected, you can unlock your radio.

    Also, most newer vehicles save their "memory" so taking the battery terminals on and off in a short period of time does little to affect the driving of the vehicle.

  3. I have a really old car and this happens just about every winter. I don't usually clean it off unless it gets really bad. That's only because I didn't know how to clean it off, though. I'll have to try this Coke idea to see how it works. I also think the baking soda solution would be an interesting fix to try.

  4. It's interesting to see some of the tricks mechanics have thought of. I guess that's why they are in the field that they are in. I hope to get some stuff on my car worked on this weekend. It would put me at ease to know that the problems with it are fixed.