Can You Use Coke to Remove Rust From a Car?

There are plenty of myths and urban legends regarding cars. Previously, we covered whether or not you can unlock a car door with a tennis ball. Now we address an issue that eventually affects most vehicles: rust. Specifically, can you use Coke to remove rust from a car?

What causes rust on cars?

Bottle of Coca-Cola by rust spot, highlighting if Coke can remove rust from car
Coke by a rusty car | Mark Putzer, MotorBiscuit

Unless you have a stainless steel car such as a DeLorean, your vehicle will likely be susceptible to rust as it gets older. So, what causes rust on cars? To answer this question, we have to give a little chemistry lesson.

The cause of rust on cars is oxidation. In a chemical reaction, the iron in a vehicle reacts with water and other forms of moisture, and then, over time, transforms into iron oxide — or rust. Automakers have tried different methods to reduce or eliminate rust, such as using a more durable coating and adding alloy material. However, it’s challenging to completely eliminate rust. Is Coca-Cola a possible remedy?

True: Coke can remove rust from a car

Coca-Cola poured on rust spot, highlighting how Coke can remove rust from car
Coke by a rusty car | Mark Putzer, MotorBiscuit

Yes, Coke can remove rust from a car. While many automotive remedies have been proven to be a myth, the one with Coca-Cola and rust is actually true. You enjoy a nice cold can or bottle of Coke — and then watch the beverage work its magic for removing rust from your vehicle.

The reason why Coca-Cola is an effective substance for rust removal is due to its carbonation and acidic composition. With its carbonation, Coke can dissolve with metal oxides to break up rust, as detailed by CarHop. The rust-removing capabilities also come courtesy of phosphoric acid. Additionally, Coke contains citric acid, which helps remove stains. 

How to use Coca-Cola to remove rust from a vehicle

You can use either a can or a bottle of Coca-Cola to remove rust from a car. Ideally, the Coke should be a little flat before using it. This is so it doesn’t start fizzing right after applying it to the rust. As far as the type of Coca-Cola, Diet Coke is the best to use. With less sugar, Diet Coke is not as sticky, which makes it easier to clean off the vehicle. 

Along with the Coke, you’ll need a tool to scrub off the rust, such as a sponge or a folded piece of aluminum foil. The sponge is the most gentle method, while the aluminum foil is more effective at removing rust. Additionally, you’ll need clean rags or washcloths, along with soap and water. These are for wiping away the rust debris and residue left by the Coca-Cola.

Follow these steps and see the magic in action

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Once you’ve gathered all of the necessary items, you can go to work at removing the rust:

  • Simply pour the Coke over the rust spots on your car. Also, you can dip the sponge or aluminum foil with Coke — and then apply it to the rust spots. 
  • Scrub away the rust with the sponge or the folded piece of aluminum foil. For the aluminum foil, you might need to fold it a few times to provide extra sturdiness. 
  • As you wipe away the rust, clean away the debris with the rags, soap, and water.
  • Keep applying the Coca-Cola as needed to remove the rust. 
  • When finished, thoroughly clean the car with soap and water. 

You might be surprised at how quickly and effectively Coke works for removing rust from a car. While Coca-Cola is not as effective as some commercial rust removers — due to its lower phosphoric acid content, it’s an affordable and fun alternative. 

To find out if the tennis ball hack to unlock a car door really works — or is just a myth, continue reading below.

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