Brake Cleaner vs Carb Cleaner (What’s the Difference?)

Cars are comprised of several components and parts. They all get dirty and grimy while serving their unique purpose. You simply can’t use the same cleaning formula for every part of your vehicle. Each individual part needs to be cleaned differently, especially with a different type of cleaning solution.

For instance, you don’t want to clean your brakes with a carburetor cleaner and you don’t want to clean your carburetor with a brake cleaner. Each cleaner is formulated specifically for the part of the car that they’re meant to clean.

If you use the wrong cleaner on a particular part, then it may cause serious damage to it. Then you’ll need to spend money repairing or replacing that part. It is faster and cheaper to just use the right cleaner on the right part.

Let’s take a look at the differences between brake cleaners and carburetor cleaners so that you can get a better understanding of this.

Brake Cleaner

brake cleanerHow often do you have the components of your brakes cleaned? If you’re like most people, then you probably never do. That is understandable because it is a job that requires some time and effort.

You’re forced to remove the tires and wheels from your vehicle so that you can access the braking system, particularly the brake rotors and calipers. If someone does clean their brakes, they will usually bring their vehicle to a repair shop and have professionals take care of it for them. Of course, this also costs money.

If you’re looking to save money and do the brake cleaning job yourself, then all you need is a good brake cleaner. It comes in a simple-to-use spray can which you just spray on your brake components after you remove them from your braking system.

Make sure you use a brake cleaner that is labeled as a “multi-purpose” cleaner. This ensures that it will remove all the unwanted brake fluid, oil, and/or grease stains from these parts. You won’t need to wait long for it to dry either.

There are two types of brake cleaners. The first type is a chlorinated brake cleaner which contains a chemical called Tetrachloroethylene. This chemical is hazardous to humans, which is another reason why a professional should do the braking cleaning job.

Alternatively, the second type of brake cleaner is one that is non-chlorinated. This one is definitely safer for novices to use, but it is also not as aggressive at brake cleaning as the chlorinated one.

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Carb Cleaner

carb cleanerOn older cars, the carburetor is what’s responsible for mixing the fuel and air together inside of the internal combustion engine. The ratio of fuel and air needs to be balanced just right for successful combustion to take place.

Once the mixture is ignited, this allows the engine to generate the power that ultimately turns the wheels. However, what many people don’t realize is that carbon particles and dirt particles tend to stick to the carburetor.

As time goes on, these particles need to be removed from the component to continue functioning properly. A carburetor cleaner is needed to clean the carburetor.

This is a strong mixture of powerful chemicals which is formulated to remove dirt and other types of grime from the interior and exterior of the carburetor. These chemicals include Acetone, Xylene, Toluene, Methyl Ethyl Ketone, Ethyl Benzene, 2-Butoxyethanol, and propane.

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Overall, brake cleaners don’t leave residue behind after you use them. The same cannot be said for carb cleaners.

Also, don’t use carb cleaners on material which has paint on it because the paint will come off. And with brake cleaners, don’t use them on anything which has a powder coat finish because it will make the powder sticky and essentially ruin the finish.


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