Bike brakes that get squeaky lead many to wonder can I use WD40 on my bike brakes? The all too familiar blue and yellow can is good for many things, but what about bike brakes?
WD40 has a number of uses. As the standard degreasing agent to turn to, it is known to help improve bike chain movement. That being said, care needs to be taken when applying WD40 to or around your bike.
WD40 is not the best agent for cleaning bike brakes and can actually create more cleaning for you. WD40 acts as a solvent and is designed to loosen the bonds between rust and any metal surface. It can be used to remove rust from a bikes brake system. However, once the rust is removed, you need to use soap and water or rubbing alcohol to wipe the surface so the lubrication is not stripped away.
The popularity of WD40 makes it a common go-to resource as soon as bike brakes start squeaking. With debris and oil build-up is the cause of most squeaky brakes, WD40 seems like the best solution.
This quick guide will show you that WD40 is not a good solution for cleaning bike brakes and should only be left to cleaning chains. Squeaky wheels are supposed to get the grease, but not the brakes.
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WD40 On Brakes: Good or Bad
As great as WD40 is for lubricating parts, not many people recommend it for bike brakes. It is an effective way to clean the internal metal parts of the bike, but it is not the best way to clean and lubricate your bike brakes.
Especially the brake pads. In fact, using any type of oil on the brake pads can lead to contamination. And this will lead to you eventually needing to replace them.
You can tell that your bike brakes need cleaning when parts start to stick. You may also notice dirt building up around the brakes. With regular inspection you can see when your brakes need cleaning before they start squeaking.
Regular cleaning is the best way to ensure that your bike brakes get a maximum lifespan. Cyclists have developed a few different ways to clean brakes, and WD40 is one of them, but it is not the best solution.
The truth is there is more use for WD40 on bike chains than bike brakes. WD40 is a degreasing agent, so it is best used on bike chains. WD40 is designed to loosen the bonds between rust and any metal surface, so it is ideal for removing rust on bike chains.
It can also be used to remove rust from bike brake systems. However, once the rust is removed, you need to use soap and water or rubbing alcohol to wipe the surface.
You do not want to leave any WD40 behind after it has removed the rust for you. The reason is that WD40 acts as a solvent and it will strip away any lubrication. For chains and bike brakes to work properly there needs to be smooth movement and this requires lubrication or grease.
WD40 will remove the rust but it will also remove the lubricant, so wipe it away when done and be sure to check if any additional lubricant is needed before you start riding again.
Using WD40 On Squeaky Bike Brakes
WD40 is not ideal for bike brake pads. But there are components of the brakes where it may help in a temporary fashion. The reason it is not the best substance to use is because it is not a true lubricant.
WD40 is a solvent designed to remove rust. Should you notice any rust along the bike brakes or chains, WD40 can help you remove this. It will also leave an oily residue, that you will want to wipe away.
The number one cause of squeaky brakes is oil build-up. This is true for both disc and rim brakes. WD40 contains oils that will contribute to this build-up. To remove any build-up, lightly dampen a rag with rubbing alcohol and wipe the brake components. If you notice any debris collected on the brake pads, this can also be removed with rubbing alcohol.
Can You Put WD40 On Bike Disc Brakes
Disc brakes are commonly seen on bikes today as they offer superior stopping power. They are found on most mountain bikes so as to offer better control in uncertain conditions.
These brakes sit at the center of the wheels and squeeze the brake pads against a rotor that is mounted to the hub. This slows and stops the wheels. WD40 is not ideal for disc brakes because it can encourage rusting.
Contaminants collecting in the brake pads can cause squeaking and vibrations. The trouble with WD40 is that it can contribute to this debris rather than remove it. You do not want to use WD40 on the disc brakes.
Instead, the proper way to get your disc brakes clean is to use mild soap and water. Isopropyl alcohol will also help clean the disc brakes without adding to the contamination. Compressed sprays like WD40 can cause seal swell so it needs to be avoided.
Can You Spray WD40 On Brake Calipers
Brake calipers work by clamping down on the metal rim of the wheels to stop the bike. As previously stated, WD40 is an oil-based product and the oils can attack the EPDM seals in the brake caliper systems.
For brake calipers to work efficiently, they need to be clean and dry. This is why you may notice that the calipers get stuck or slippery when exposed to rain.
To keep the brake calipers in fine working order, it is better to apply some brake fluid to the outer diameter of the caliper. WD40 can increase the residue present on the calipers which will interfere with their function.
To test the function of the calipers, pull the front brake completely and push the bike forwards. Properly working calipers will result in the back wheel lifting off the ground. Then pull the back brakes completely and the front wheel should lift up. If this is not happening, use a scrub brush and brake fluid to continue cleaning the calipers.
WD40 On Bike Brake Pads
WD40 on the brake pads is a big no-no. This degreasing agent will contaminate the pads reducing their effectiveness. If you have already used WD40 on your brake pads, do not throw them out just yet. There are ways to clean or salvage the pads so you can still use them.
- Sanding the brake pads down slightly may give them a little extra life and remove the WD40 residue
- You can carefully burn off the top layer of residue from the pads
- Remove the pads and clean thoroughly with alcohol and when completely dry, sand them down. Make sure you use a rag lightly dampened with alcohol.
- Brake cleaner from an auto or bike store can be used to remove all traces of WD40.
When using any of these methods to remove the WD40 residue, make sure you test the brakes first before taking another cycling trip. If these methods have not worked, you will need to replace the brake pads.
Make sure all parts are completely dry before putting the brake system back together. And remember not to use WD40 on them in the future.
Helpful Tips To Know If I Can Use WD40 On My Bike Brakes
It is understandable why you may think that WD40 is good for bike brakes. It is one of the most commonly used products in mechanics and repairs. Before you decide to use WD40 on your bike brakes, there are a few helpful tips to consider.
- Is there any visible rust? WD40 can remove rust but needs to be thoroughly wiped away once the rust has been removed.
- Is there build-up on the brake pads? WD40 contains oils that will add to this build-up so should not be used.
- Always wear gloves or clean your hands before handling brake components. Oils and dirt can be transferred to the brake pads easily.
The well-known phrase reminds us that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, but WD40 is a degreasing agent. This means it is not good for squeaking bike brakes. The oils in WD40 further contribute to any build-up you are trying to clean away from the brakes.
WD40 however, does work wonders for your bike chain, but you need to take care when spraying. While many people will swear by it, the answer to the question, “Can I use WD40 on my bike brakes”, is no. It is great for chains and removing rust, but more of a nightmare for the brakes.