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Brake Cleaner: Why You Can’t Live Without It

Clean brakes during service using brake cleaner

There’s no denying it, your vehicle’s brakes can be a very dirty place. Between brake dust, petroleum-based brake fluid, grease, grime and road debris, it’s never long before your brakes are in need of a good cleaning. Keeping your brakes clean not only helps them last a lot longer but it can also significantly improve their ability to stop your vehicle.

It’s as easy as choosing the right product. Here’s a look at the benefits of brake cleaner.

Keep It Simple

With all the services we perform on our vehicles, cleaning the brakes is one of the easiest yet most overlooked. By simply spraying cleaner in the side of the caliper, you can safely and easily remove dust, grease and debris that could potentially impede your vehicle’s braking ability. There are no two ways about it, clean brakes function better and can stop your vehicle in a shorter distance.

Super CleanDirty brake rotor and caliper

Brake cleaner is made up of chemical compounds that evaporate as they dry, leaving no residue behind and dissolving grease for perfectly clean brakes. Because of this property however, it’s also great for removing grease and oil from other automotive parts too. Whether you need to remove the grime from the valve cover before you pour fresh oil in or clean a bearing before you re-grease it, cleaner will remove everything. Just be careful around rubber gaskets, seals and the exterior finish of the body — cleaner can dry out or damage these parts. It’s also safe for metal, ceramic and glass so it can be used to clean and treat other things in your life like machine parts and windows.

Chlorinated vs. Non-chlorinated

With ever increasing environmental protection requirements, many makers of brake cleaner are moving over to non-chlorinated blends. What’s the difference? All cleaners are made of toxic chemicals but chlorinated cleaners use perchloroethylene, methylene chloride and trichloroethylene, which are considered Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). They’re worse for the environment and have very strong fumes. Non-chlorinated cleaners replace these chemicals with other less toxic, low-VOC chemicals, which are better for you and the earth.

Brake cleaner is one of the most useful automotive products you can get your hands on. With cleaning properties that leave no residue, they can remove grease, oil and dirt from your brakes and help them perform at the top of their game. As more states ban the use of VOC chemicals, non-chlorinated cleaners are becoming more prevalent and are sure to do a great job.

Check out all the chemical products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on brake cleaner, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


Erich Reichert View All

Erich Reichert has been an editor and on-air personality in the radio control car hobby for 12 years. A certified car nut since birth, he has written for internationally published titles such as RC Car Action, RC Driver and Xtreme RC Cars, as well as Stuff Magazine, Road and Track and Super Street. He's covered everything from product reviews and tech articles to high-profile lifestyle pieces and celebrity interviews. Erich found his passion for writing after a successful career as an art director, working with brands such as Pepsico, NASCAR, MTV, Nintendo, WWE, Cannondale Bicycles and HBO. He's also a father, an avid hockey fan and an FIA race license holder who enjoys hiking, playing drums and movies.

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