Here’s a common question we get asked a lot – “Does brake fluid remove paint?”
Brake fluid is typically used in a car’s hydraulic braking system. It boosts the force to your brake pedal, and this converts into the required pressure on your brakes.
When there is no brake fluid, then your car will struggle with stopping even when you step on your brakes. In addition to putting pressure needed to stop the car, brake fluid is also an effective paint stripper. You can use it on plastic or metal surfaces as this solvent works in removing paint easily.
But what if you are not intending to remove paint? Then, it is best to be careful when using brake fluid and having it touch your car. Here are more things you should know about brake fluid – what it does and how to use it correctly for best results.
Does Brake Fluid Remove Paint?
When you have some brake fluid left in contact with a painted surface for a long time, this loosens the paint off the surface. Then, it breaks down whatever holds the paint and the surface together.
But if you have a stubborn type of paint that does not get scratched off easily, you can use isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol for removing paint. In fact, you can use it to remove paint even without melting plastic. On the other hand, thinners or other harsh paint strippers end up doing harm to the plastic material of your vehicle.
But it is also worth noting that brake fluid causes harm to paint and natural rubber. This component also absorbs water that causes corrosion or rust in your steel brake lines. Other than this, brake fluid should be perfectly fine to use.
How Brake Fluid Removes Paint
Brake fluid removes paint of any kind, whether it is lead paint or lead-free ones or those metallic alloys. However, you need to be careful when using it with plastic materials because the fluid can weaken some plastic types.
When removing paint from any surface, you first need to dampen the exterior areas and remove dust. Either spray it with a water hose, sweep, or pick out the debris. Never do dry sweeping since it ends up spreading the dust particles and debris all over.
Afterwards, shovel the dust into bags and seal them up, so they don’t go to the surface again.
Generally, brake fluid is non-corrosive. However, when you use brake fluid that comes with an additive, it tends to break down paint on the surface.
Brake fluid that sits for a long time on any surface whether plastic or metal will work on breaking down the paint layer. This is why some stripes or vertical marks may be left on the surface as the fluid removes the glycol content. Eventually, this exposes the surface of the material on which the paint was applied.
If you do not intend to remove paint, and your brake fluid simply touched the surface by accident, be sure to wipe it off quickly. Otherwise, it will eat through the unprotected surface where you applied the fluid unintentionally.
This is why brake fluid is a potent paint remover. Even brake fluid that is not silicone-based can also eat away at coats of paint on any surface. This will eventually cause the paint to peel away.
What about synthetic brake fluid, you may ask?
Whether it is a natural or synthetic type of brake fluid, it can still destroy your car’s paint job. This is because brake fluid contains chemical agents that are responsible for giving it the ability to apply the right pressure on the brake pedal to activate the braking power when you step on it.
With this in mind, synthetic or natural brake fluid can ruin the paint on any surface by stripping it away. As long as it comes into contact with the surface, brake fluid will remove paint especially when left on the material for a period of time.
Overall, brake fluid serves a number of purposes – one is as a material to improve your vehicle’s braking capability, which is the original reason why vehicle owners use this product.
But at the same time, it can also be used as a paint stripper or paint thinner when you want to remove your car’s paint. When used on metal or plastic, brake fluid can effectively remove paint. This is why if the intention is to use it as a paint remover, then all you need to do is to apply a thin layer of brake fluid after cleaning the surface of the material and removing any debris. Then, it should work as intended.
On the other hand, if you have no plans of removing paint, yet some brake fluid touched the surface of your vehicle, be prompt with wiping it off. Otherwise, leaving it on for an extended period will cause the fluid to eat away on your vehicle’s paint. A quick wipe using a damp towel should suffice, and your car’s paint job should stay as it is.
We hope this post has been helpful in giving you valuable information on what brake fluid does to your vehicle’s paint job and what you need to do in case your car’s exterior accidentally got a bit of brake fluid on it.