Brake cleaner = Carb Cleaner = Engine degreaser?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by JEDI, Aug 14, 2010.

  1. JEDI

    JEDI Lifer

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    walmart brand:
    Brake cleaner 14oz, $2.35
    Carb Cleaner 12oz, $1.75
    Engine degreaser 20oz, $2.15

    Are they the same thing? if not, how are they different?

    Can they be used interchangably?
    (if so, Engine degreaser seems to be the best value)
     
  2. speedy2

    speedy2 Golden Member

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    Carb and Brake cleaner and more alike. Engine degreaser is a bit different.

    People actually prefer Brake cleaner over a carb cleaner since it's usually not as bad on seals on other rubber/plastic parts.
     
  3. PottedMeat

    PottedMeat Lifer

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    Super Tech ( Walmart ) Carb Cleaner has acetone + toluene + propane propellant
    Super Tech Brake Cleaner has heptane + xylene + 2-propanone + ethylbenzene + propane propellant
    Super Tech Engine Degreaser has uh... different petroleum distillates + CO2 propellant

    http://msds.walmartstores.com/Default.aspx

    Really depends on the brand, I've got a can of some generic brake cleaner that has just acetone + heptane.

    I don't think many stores sell chlorinated brake cleaner anymore.
     
    #3 PottedMeat, Aug 14, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2010
  4. T2urtle

    T2urtle Diamond Member

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    i use carb and brake cleaner for similar applications. clean off oil stain, parts and etc.

    engine degreaser.... i've only used once as i'm not happy spraying my engine bay with a hose.
     
  5. wirednuts

    wirednuts Diamond Member

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    carb cleaner is MUCH stronger cleaner then brake cleaner is. engine degreaser is usually weaker then brake cleaner too.

    if in doubt, DO NOT use carb cleaner. that stuff eats rubber, plastic, or pretty much anything thats not metal. even sensors, like mass airflow sensors can be instantly ruined if cleaned with carb cleaner, whereas most brake cleaners are safe enough to use.

    but its best to use the right cleaner for the right job. if you need to clean electrical contacts, use electrical contact cleaner. need to clean your brakes? use brake cleaner. need to get all the gunk off a piece of metal no matter what? use carb cleaner. cleaning the dust and old oil off your engine? use engine cleaner.... it seems like common sense but it is important not to cross-apply the products.
     
  6. StageLeft

    StageLeft No Lifer

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    I have brake cleaner. I used it years ago. I'm still not sure what the point of it is. Why would I want to clean my brakes really?
     
  7. Vette73

    Vette73 Lifer

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    Gets rid of grease, dirt, brake fluid, etc... when you examine and/or repair the brake system. I also use it to clean wheel bearings as it does not leave any residue.

    Carb cleaner I use to clean off throttle bodies, manifolds, etc... mostly internal engine parts.
     
  8. SooperDave

    SooperDave Senior member

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    I've found starting fluid to be a good all-rounder. Gentle enough to use on plastics and electrical but will also clean grease and oil decently. It dries quick with no residue. I would not use it for a complete engine degreaser. It is more of a spot cleaner.


    edit: Come to think of it I've used it to clean grease from cloth seats and it worked great.
     
    #8 SooperDave, Aug 14, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2010
  9. Pacfanweb

    Pacfanweb Lifer

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    Brake cleaner will do the job great, but it's an expensive way to go.
    You'll burn through a lot of it to get the engine clean.

    Engine degreaser is the best way...you spray that on, and it helps to scrub a bit, then hose it off.

    Brake cleaner IS a good way to get the engine cleaner residue off before you paint, though.
     
  10. wirednuts

    wirednuts Diamond Member

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    even carb cleaner is by far and away a better choice just for the fact that it wont explode in your face:eek:

    just a warning. gasoline also cleans a lot of stuff really well, but its rarely ideal to use it.
     
  11. IcePickFreak

    IcePickFreak Platinum Member

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    I guess you never worked on a car with drum brakes? I know drums are pretty rare to see these days, but even standard semi-metallic disc can get pretty dirty too. When you go to change pads (or drum shoes, as it were) you spray em down with brake cleaner first. As surprising as it may sound, have brake dust build up to were the pads/shoes stick isn't fun and makes the new pads/shoes kinda pointless if they stick as well.

    This was really important with drums since a lot of brake dust would get built up in/around the drum, especially when asbestos shoes were still common, you don't want asbestos dust floating around when you start knockin the drum loose. I remember those and dealt with them plenty when I was younger, and I'm only in my 30's.

    And while you can use some of this stuff for other purposes if your in a fix for something small, I wouldn't purchase it with that intention. I mean really we're talking maybe $1 difference here ounce for ounce - you could of probably found the difference in change in your couch in the time it took to write the OP.
     
  12. SooperDave

    SooperDave Senior member

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    nvm
     
    #12 SooperDave, Aug 14, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2010
  13. slashbinslashbash

    slashbinslashbash Golden Member

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    The local carwash costs $0.75 for 3 minutes, and it'll spray out a LOT of degreaser/cleaner in that amount of time :) I've never collected it in a container, but I bet it comes to more than 20 oz.
     
  14. mwmorph

    mwmorph Diamond Member

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    When i worked at a shop, i used brake cleaner for everything external from engine degreasing to actual brake cleaning to quickly getting crap off my hands. I'm sure it'll give me cancer down the road (that stuff stings on minor skin wounds), but it is excellent at getting off oils.
     
  15. Engineer

    Engineer Elite Member

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    I have also, but if you read the can, it's not recommended to clean throttle bodies with it. They have a Throttle Body Cleaner just for that (of course they would - sell you more stuff). I usually just spray a little in and wipe it quickly and then wet a rag and clean the buildup at the opening (causes my gas pedal to be a tad stiff/sticky after about 50,000 miles or so if I don't clean them).
     
  16. SooperDave

    SooperDave Senior member

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    Slow down there Chicken Little. The sky isn't falling quite yet. Over the last 20+ years as a mechanic I've used gallons of the stuff and with care, caution, and common sense I've never had a problem. Now someone like you with so little coomon sense that you carry pot in your lap when driving and speeding should never use starting fluid. You don't seem to have enough sense to use Brakeclean either for that matter.
     
  17. IcePickFreak

    IcePickFreak Platinum Member

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    Carb cleaner isn't recommended for throttle bodies because newer throttle bodies include electronics. Carb cleaner isn't too healthy for electronics. They're not exposed though, like the MAF for instance, so if you're careful it's not a big issue. But if they didn't put that on there you know someone would be sueing them. The MAF on the other hand, you'll most likely be replacing shortly after you decide to spray it with carb cleaner. It's not it will stop working completely, it just throws it way out of whack and gives the ECM incorrect readings. If you just blindly hose down the throttle body, much the same thing can and often does happen.

    Of course at that point it's always because the car is a POS, and not because the owner did something wrong - at least in my experiences in car repair.
     
  18. SooperDave

    SooperDave Senior member

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    I've heard more than once that carb cleaner will damage an 02 sensor as well. It may be a myth. I've never bothered to find out since I hardly ever work on anything with an 02 sensor anymore.
     
  19. IcePickFreak

    IcePickFreak Platinum Member

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    Yup if you use it liberally on the intake it'll throw them out of whack as well since it's exposed element kinda like a MAF sensor, but obviously the MAF is quite a bit more sensative. Spraying a little on the inside of the throttle body (on the blade, not on the outside where the TPS is) and wiping it down without the engine running isn't going to do anything, but blindly spraying a bunch of it into the throttle body while the engine is running definitely can screw up the O2 sensors.

    Despite what a couple of others here think, there's a reason why it's Carb and choke cleaner lol. Ideally on fuel injected cars you want to use MAF cleaner for the MAF, and TB/Intake cleaner for the throttle body - go figure. You can use the MAF cleaner on the TB as well without killing any sensors, but it's not that strong of a solvent for obvious reasons. Depending on the vehicle, the PCV line can crud up the TB on some cars (they dump the return line before the MAF and it gets the oil mist), and definitely will in the intake, so MAF cleaner usually doesn't help much there and can actually make it worse since it just allows the deposits to pool up but not get rid of them. That's why they always "recommend" on the can that you remove the MAF when cleaning it as well. Carbureted cars/bikes are way easier in this aspect since you don't have all the electronic sensors to worry about and can just the stronger solvent right from the start. Fuel injected stuff you always got to juggle having a powerful enough solvent to clean a given area, but not kill any sensor's downstream of what you're cleaning.

    Sorry to go on another tirade lol, and it's not directed towards you SooperDave, but I've seen a lot of cars with issues that grew from something simple and someone thought they could fix by spraying the first cleaner they could find where ever they think looks good. Then after they make it worse they'll have someone else look at it and now instead of just properly cleaning the MAF, you got to replace an expensive O2 or TPS sensor.

    On the flip side of that for me, I hate electricity and electricity hates me lol. So I learned that whenever I have an issue with home electrical stuff I call up a buddy that deals with it first thing and don't touch it at all as I'll most likely just make things worse/fry something (myself included).
     
  20. SooperDave

    SooperDave Senior member

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    Thanks for the detailed reply. Hearing about a product from the guys doing the dirty work everyday is the kind of insight I value alot. As I said, I don't work on automotive often anymore and info like this is very helpful :thumbsup:
     
  21. andylawcc

    andylawcc Lifer

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    you can feel it with your hands: Carb Cleaner stings more than Brake Cleaner.

    anyway, hey SooperDave and IcePickfreak, what do you guys use to clean the oil drips off the floor? I work on my bike once in a while and after I am done there bounded to be oil or other fluid left on the concrete floor. I found Brake Cleaner to be the most convienent, but undoubtedly it could get expensive. Gasoline is cheaper, but that means I either have to store the sucker, or go to a gas station and get some when it is needed.
     
  22. Pacfanweb

    Pacfanweb Lifer

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    Carb cleaner initially wasn't recommended for throttle bodies because a lot of them were Teflon-coated, and Carb cleaner would remove the coating. They came up with the specialized Throttle Body cleaners that wouldn't eat the Teflon up.
     
  23. Pacfanweb

    Pacfanweb Lifer

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    Never seen an O2 sensor damaged by carb cleaner. If these foggings that happen when you do carbon cleans aren't killing sensors left and right, I don't think a little carb cleaner is going to be any worse.

    Just never spray Brake Cleaner into an engine. Combusted, it turns into Phosgene Gas, A.K.A., Mustard Gas. And it can kill you.
     
  24. SooperDave

    SooperDave Senior member

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    Any chemical remover is going to cost. What worked well for me was when I worked automotive the shop was right next to a carpet store and we used to dumpster dive for remanants and throw them under the vehicle if a spill was expected. Also worked well if you had to work underneath and no lift was available. I never cared for creepers and the carpet was nice padding on concrete. Low shag and no pet stains FTW
     
  25. SooperDave

    SooperDave Senior member

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    I've wanted to test this. I never did like the neighbors cat much:twisted: