Can you use brake cleaner as starting Fluid?

Starting fluid comes handy in starting cars, especially in cold temperatures when starting your car becomes difficult with the regular fuel. However, there are situations where you might run out of starting fluid and be unable to start your vehicle in those cold climates.

In this situation, many often resort to other fluids as alternatives to help start their cars, one of which is brake cleaner. But sincerely, can you use brake cleaner as starting fluid, especially without having anything to worry about?

can you use brake cleaner as starting fluid

Can you use brake cleaner as starting fluid?

You can use brake cleaner as starting fluid if your starting fluid is not available. Though designed for a different purpose, brake cleaner contains the ideal ingredients and chemicals needed to start your car.

However, while brake cleaner is a good starting fluid alternative for diesel and gas engines, there are a few things you must keep in mind.

Ensure you use only a tiny amount of brake cleaner as a substitute for starter fluid. Secondly, while using brake cleaner as a starter fluid alternative comes without many complications, ensure you use it only in emergencies.

Brake cleaners contain strong cleaning agents that eliminate oil from the combustion chamber, ultimately drying up the engine. If used regularly, the dryness may lead to an engine breakdown. Moreover, brake cleaner exhaust is more toxic than starter fluid and may cause health issues.

Even the starting fluid recommends to start your car should not be used every time as it can damage the engine when used too much. If you regularly need starting fluid to start your vehicle, there is possibly an underlying issue, visit your mechanic.

Thirdly, brake cleaner is available in both regular and aerosol containers. So if you have ever thought of using brake cleaner as a substitute for starter fluid, ensure you use the aerosol can.

And most importantly, read carefully the content written on the aerosol spray to be sure they are combustible. If it is not flammable, it won’t serve as combustible fuel needed to start the car.

You may also wonder, if brake cleaner can be substituted for starter fluid, can you use starting fluid as a cleaner? Starting fluid can be used as a cleaner or degreaser. However, while it will get the job done, it won’t do a perfect job. Using brake cleaner functions way better.

Can you use carburetor cleaner as starting fluid?

If brake cleaner can substitute for starting fluid, can you use carburator cleaner as starting fluid as well? Yes, carburetor cleaner can be used as a starter fluid. However, you must be careful when using it; the ingredients for making carb cleaner and starter fluids are entirely different.

Carburetor cleaners contain potent cleaning agents and have extremely high pressure. Hence, they come handy in eliminating gunk and other sediment from the carburetor and throttle body as well as opening blocked jets. Be careful about how much carb cleaner is sprayed into the air intake.

The pressure in the can is usually high and can cause flooding if done incorrectly. In fact, I always recommend using only starting fluid for your specific engine since their pressure is usually low with their nozzle, most times creating something like a mist.

Another excellent starter fluid alternative is the Wd40. Though not totally safe, it’s far safer than the starter fluid. Comparing both, while using excess starter fluid can put the engine to sleep, WD40 contains lubricants that can help lubricate the engine. So for those asking, can you use wd40 as starting fluid? Now you know.

However, just like the carb cleaner, if WD40 is used in a way not designed for the engine, it can also cause harm to the engine. Only use a carb cleaner or wd40 as starting fluid in cases where the recommended engine starter fluid is unavailable and you can’t start your car.

can you use brake parts cleaner as starting fluid

Where do you spray brake cleaner to start a car?

Brake cleaners are sprayed into the air intake to start a car. The same place you spray a real starter fluid or its alternatives like the carb cleaner and WD40. To start, locate your air intake. In many cars, the air intake is positioned behind the air filter in the engine compartment. Remove the air filter and start spraying brake cleaner into the air intake.

And more importantly, ensure you know how to use the starting fluid to start your car so you don’t harm yourself or the vehicle. Number one thing to keep in mind; don’t spray starter fluids or their alternative into the air intake while the engine is running.

Starting fluid and most of its substitutes are flammable and may result in fire outbreaks leading to severe body burns and other damages. Again, pouring too much or using it constantly can cause flooding or damage to the engine.

Advantages and disadvantages of using brake cleaner as starter fluid

While brake cleaner serves as a starter fluid alternative, it also comes with its pitfalls. Let’s explore some of the advantages and disadvantages of using brake cleaner as a starter fluid


Brake cleaner has the right additives needed to kick start your car in the cold months when starting with standard fuel isn’t possible. Hence allowing you to commute when needed.


Brake cleaners have effective cleaning agents that can dry up oil. Such dryness can eventually cause engine breakdown. Secondly, it harms your health more than starter fluid.

Brake cleaners produce more toxic exhaust that can cause respiratory issues and skin irritation when released into the atmosphere. It’s for these reasons that we often recommend not to make brake cleaner your everyday starter fluid. Use it occasionally and only in emergencies.

Final Words

People asking, can you use brake cleaner as starting fluid, now know that brake cleaners are an excellent alternative for starter fluid. However, while using brake cleaner as starting fluid in diesel and gasoline engines may seem incredible, I do not recommend using it. They are made to clean and decrease brake components and not act as combustible fuel. Moreover, it can cause harm to you or the vehicle if not used properly.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

Recent Posts