The chemical aisle is full of products for all kinds of specialized purposes, and maintenance aerosols are no exception. One of the more popular products in this category is brake cleaner. Available in various formulas, brake cleaner is designed to remove brake dust, dirt, oil, brake fluid and grease from disc and drum brake components. Most leave little or no residue behind on surfaces that have been cleaned.
Over the years, brake cleaners have been reformulated to reduce VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and to reduce or eliminate other potentially harmful ingredients. There are chlorinated products, non-chlorinated products and low-VOC products.
Like any chemical product, users should read and follow the directions and heed any precautions or warnings. Because brake cleaner works so well, it is often used as a general purpose degreaser. However, brake cleaner should NOT be used to clean electronics. Recommend an aerosol electronics cleaner for cleaning wiring connectors and mass airflow sensors.
Recommend throttle cleaner for cleaning dirty throttle bodies, and carburetor for cleaning carburetors on older vehicles. Make sure the product is safe for throttle bodies that have special coatings as many older Fords do. There are also general purpose degreasers for cleaning engine parts.
Another popular maintenance product is aerosol penetrating oils. Some of these products contain light viscosity oil that can penetrate and loosen rust on fasteners. The same type of product also can lubricate fastener threads and surfaces that slide or rub to reduce friction and protect against corrosion.
The oil in these products repels moisture, as does the silicone in products that are essentially spray on lubricants.
As with brake cleaner, aerosol penetrating oils and lubricants are often misused for applications where they are ill-suited, or where there is a better product to use. Spray lubricants should not be used to quiet a noisy drive belt. Use a belt dressing spray for this purpose.