Will Brake Cleaner Remove Paint?

A brake cleaner is a powerful solvent for cleaning dirt from the brakes and other car components. It is specifically designed for cleaning dirt, grease, and brake fluids from the brake system. However, some folks use it as a multi-purpose cleaning agent. This leads to some people complaining that brake cleaner peels their spray paint.

In this article, I’ll answer the question, will brake cleaner remove paint, and will carb cleaner remove paint? You’ll also learn the effects of brake cleaner on spray paints and what to do if you accidentally spray it on your paintwork.

will brake cleaner remove spray paint

Will Brake Cleaner Remove Paint?

As explained earlier, brake cleaner is a strong solvent that will dissolve strong dirt, residues, or greasy parts when applied on any surface. After a while, the solvent will dry up and disappear, leaving a shining surface. But does brake cleaner remove spray paint, anyway?

Brake cleaner will remove spray paint on your car, or at least the topcoat layers. The solvent is made of harsh additives like ethanol, methanol, isopropanol, and acetone, which can destroy your paintwork.

Because of the compounds used in formulating brake cleaner, it’ll eat up your car paint once they come in contact with it. Even if it doesn’t completely remove the car paint, it’ll damage the wax and clear layer of the spray paint. For those asking, will brake cleaner damage alloy wheels? The answer is no. So don’t be afraid of cleaning your brakes with brake cleaner because you have alloy wheels.

What happens if you get brake cleaner on car paint?

If you spray brake cleaner on car paint, it’ll destroy the paint. This is because of the harsh chemicals used in formulating brake cleaners and how they react on painted surfaces. However, brake cleaner is not a good alternative to paint strippers because it won’t give a clean removal. But the clear coat layer of the paint will peel off once the brake cleaner spills on it.

If you spray the cleaner on the car paintwork, it will evaporate, leaving the sprayed area dull or burnt off the coating layer. The consequences don’t end with destroying the paint. It will also lead to a strange smell that is a mix of coat paint, clear coat, and wax.

However, it is essential to note that brake cleaners will not destroy all paints because not all paints are created equal. However, I advise you to take precautionary measures when spraying brake cleaners to avoid damage to your car paintwork.

What to do if brake cleaner comes on car paint

The process of removing chlorinated and non-chlorinated brake cleaner on paint is similar to how to remove brake fluid from paint. All you have to do when you accidentally spray brake cleaner on car paint is to clean the sprayed surface. Here’s a simplified process to clean brake cleaner from car paint.

Blot off the cleaner

The first thing you should do is to get a soft towel and sponge the spilled cleaner. Please do not rub it to prevent spreading the cleaner to other areas.

Wash off the cleaner

After blotting off the cleaner from the car paintwork, apply washing detergent on the affected surface and wash with water and a clean rag or sponge.

Rinse the affected surface

Flush the affected area thoroughly to ensure the cleaner is off the paintwork. This will ensure the cleaner will not damage your powder coating or the paint.

will brake cleaner remove car paint

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

Q: How fast will brake cleaner remove paint?

I’ve answered the question, will brake cleaner damage paint, but how long will it take to damage the paint? Once the brake cleaner touches your car paint, the damage will start taking effect.

The car paint will start peeling off in less than 30 minutes. Although, the exact time varies because all paints are not created equally. And manufacturers utilize different compounds in formulating brake cleaners, and the harshness of these compounds differs.

Q: Is brake cleaner a good paint remover?

It is safe to ask if brake cleaner is a good paint remover since it can damage the car paint once it interacts with it. While brake cleaner can damage your car paint, it is not a good paint remover. I recommend you get one of the best paint strippers if you’re looking for what to peel your paint with. Also, thinner rubbing alcohol and isopropyl alcohol will be better paint stripper alternatives.

Q: What destroys car paint instantly?

Several liquids can damage car paint. However, most of these liquids need to stay on the painted surface for a few minutes before causing damage to the paintwork. These liquids include brake fluid, brake cleaner, lacquer thinner, nail polish, and shoe polish. Other things that can destroy car paint include tree saps, bird droppings, bugs, acid rain, cleaning a car with a dirty towel, shaving cream, and vandalism.

Q: What paint is resistant to brake cleaner?

While brake cleaners can destroy paint, some paints are produced to withstand the harshness of brake cleaners. Halfords or Hammerite caliper paints are resistant to brake cleaners. Also, there are other paints that are resistant to brake cleaners. A good example is the Simoniz VHT. However, you need to understand that Halfords or Hammerite caliper paints are rated for 90 degrees centigrade, so it’s not high enough for the vents.

Q: Is brake cleaner and stronger than acetone?

Some argue that brake cleaner is stronger than acetone, while others disagree. However, I have come to understand that acetone is a weaker solvent while brake cleaners are quite stronger.

Final Words

At this point, you’ll no longer ask, will brake cleaner remove paint from a car? Manufacturers produce brake cleaners with methanol, ethanol, acetone, and isopropanol solvents which are harsh to the painted surfaces. So, brake cleaners will destroy your car paint even though they are not suitable alternatives to paint strippers.

Always be careful when cleaning your brakes with brake cleaner to prevent it from splashing on your paint. Plus, you should try other solvents like lacquer thinner if you’re looking for an alternative paint stripper.

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.

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