Contrary to what the name suggests, brake cleaner is not only used to clean brakes. Its composition and the properties it provides bring great benefits in other cases, but more on that later. Because what is brake cleaner anyway? Brake cleaner is a cleaning agent that mainly consists of hydrocarbons, with different additives depending on the manufacturer. One of the most important properties of brake cleaner is that it evaporates without residue and therefore does not have to be removed with a solvent. Various additives make it particularly easy to remove oils and lubricants, which is also very good for cleaning the engine compartment, for example. Degreasing parts, for example before painting, is also quite feasible with brake cleaners. Around ten million liters are consumed in Germany each year.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of brake cleaner?
Complete evaporation and the good fat-dissolving properties are very beneficial. Disadvantages include health and environmental damage. It should only be used outdoors and with good ventilation to minimize the risk of damage to the user. In addition, some types of rubber and plastic are decomposed by the brake cleaner, which can lead to leaks through porous seals over time. Therefore, you should inform yourself beforehand and clean sensitive parts with another agent or cover them.
What else can you use brake cleaner for?
Since the brake cleaner is extremely flammable, it is sometimes used as a start-up spray. For this, the brake cleaner, depending on the vehicle in the air filter, which aspiration or directly in the carburettor sprayed to then start the engine. Due to its high flammability and rapid volatility, it can be ignited in the engine and helps to start. Allegedly, even diesel engines that have run dry are supposed to start without being vented.
Whether this procedure is completely risk-free for the engine is being discussed, which is why the brake cleaner should probably not be used repeatedly for starting aid without taking other measures. However, the brake cleaner “can” work in the event of an emergency, which occurs every now and then when the car does not start and you may have to drive it urgently. Basically, however, it is intended to clean the brake. For example, when new coverings are installed or when there are new ones slices or simply when the brake is to be cleaned.
Are there alternatives to the brake cleaner?
As an alternative to the brake cleaner, supercritical carbon dioxide or dry ice is used for degreasing in industry, which is less harmful to health. However, special systems must be installed for this, which must also be vented. Therefore, brake cleaner seems to be the more appropriate choice for private use, since no expensive system is required for the application. In private use, however, there should be no doubt that the safety instructions should be followed in order to prevent damage to health
Summary information about the brake cleaner:
- Brakes squeal due to dirt and deposits can often be remedied by cleaning the brake.
- Heavily soiled brakes (oily, greasy) can in many cases be cleaned with brake cleaner and a wire brush.
- Brake cleaners can eliminate unsightly noises.
- Cleaning the brake system for the layman:
- The cleaner must not come into contact with plastics or the paint.
- Remove the wheel.
- Shake the can well.
- Spray the brake disc with cleaner.
- Do not stop spraying until the "dirt has disappeared". (according to the instructions on the back of the bottle)
- Then wipe the sprayed surfaces thoroughly.
- Mount the wheel again.
- Carry out a test drive.
- Any problems that still exist must be checked by the nearest workshop.
- For experienced screwdrivers:
- If cleaning the brake disc is not enough, the brake calliper can be dismantled and the brake pads removed.
- Clean the individual parts well.
- If possible, do not loosen the brake hose and brake lines.
- Don't take any chances.
- If in doubt, consult a specialist.
Show currently available brake cleaners hardly any differences in the composition. They almost always consist of alcohol, some solvents and various propellants. The cleaning performance is almost always identical. Regardless of whether it is a cheap no-name product or an expensive branded supplier.
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