June 7, 2023
A friend of mine asked me a question the other day about carburetor cleaning solvents, and I couldn’t help but chuckled a bit upon hearing that he was still using a vehicle equipped with a carburetor. Well, my friend is undoubtedly a certified stickler. Hence, he could not let go of his old 1990 Subaru. The 1990 Subaru, of course, is the last car sold in the United States with a carburetor. So, it is pretty much an old model of vehicle.
The 1990s was the year when the carburetor was almost reaching the end of the road. Since then, the carburetor has been largely replaced by fuel injection systems. Nevertheless, some obscure manufacturers of automobiles in Russia, Asia, and Africa still build automobiles with carburetors. So, just like my friend, there would still be many out there who are still using vehicles with carburetors. But what is a carburetor, and why do you need to use carburetor cleaning solvents?
Which Cleaning Solvents Should You Use for Cleaning the Carburetor?
You will find many carburetor cleaning solvent brands in the market today, and they either come in gallon-sized cans or single-can aerosols. Of course, the carburetor cleaning solvents are toxic, and for this reason, using them should be done with care. Below are the three most common types of carburetor cleaners in the market today:
As you search for cleaning materials for your car’s carburetor, you will discover the cleaning carburetor solvents. These solvents are specifically concocted for cleaning buildup of sticky films in your carburetor’s wall. It comes in gallon-sized cans. They also come with a soaking basket. You can use these solvents to clean a significant part of the carburetor.
As mentioned above, you only need to pour these solvents onto the soaking basket and dip the parts that you would like to clean.
These carburetor cleaners are concocted for auto enthusiasts who are often engaged in cleaning many auto parts. Since these cleaners come in dipping cans, you can extensively use these cleaners by submerging the parts you need to clean. Aerosol cans, of course, are more popular than these dipping cans, but they are indeed a handy alternative to aerosol cans.
Spray Carburetor Cleaners
You will also find aerosol carburetor cleaners that you can use to break up and do away with grime deposits and buildups on your car’s carburetor. These cleaners are easy to use. You only need to hold the part you would like to clean and lay it flat on the newspaper.
Then, shake the aerosol can and spray it well on the carburetor part you would like to clean. Afterward, using a metal brush or shop rag, you can scrub the leftovers or residue of grime that the cleaner failed to dissolve.
You can also use a brake cleaner to clean your carburetor. The brake cleaner, of course, is safe for cleaning the carburetor. It can dissolve the grime and grease deposits and buildup in the carburetor like the abovementioned carburetor cleaners. It is also an excellent alternative to the abovementioned cleaners.
The Most Recommended Carburetor Solvent-based Cleaners
Being cognizant of the different types of carburetor cleaners will help you decide which type of carburetor cleaner you should choose. However, it will not lead you to the best carburetor cleaner. If you want to really zero in on the best carburetor solvent-based cleaner, you should check out the following most recommended solvent-based cleaners by the experts:
1) Berryman 0996 Chem-Dip
If you are looking for the best carburetor cleaning solvent, you should check out the Berryman 0996 Chem-Dip. It is a fast-acting carb cleaner that you can use to remove gum, sludge, varnish, carbon deposits, and even grease from the walls of the carburetor. It will indeed do a fantastic job in cleaning the carb and other parts of your car.
The Berryman 0996 Chem-Dip comes in a three-quarters-of-a-gallon container. It comes with a tiny dip basket that comes in handy when you dip the parts you would like to clean. It is not a flammable concoction, and it is safe to use for alloys, metal parts, and rubber. Moreover, this chem-dip cleaner doesn’t cause any corrosion. Using this solvent cleaner, you can do away with grime and deposits in less than 30 minutes.
2) Gunk CC3K Carburetor Cleaner
Another great option, if you are looking for a carburetor cleaning solvent, is the Gunk CC3K Carburetor Cleaner. You will find that this cleaner comes in a 96-ounce can. It also features a drip basket which comes inside the can. You can use this solvent when cleaning the carburetor in your garage, shop, or even at home.
It is known for efficiently removing deposits of carbon, varnish, grease, paint, and grime. Moreover, this solvent doesn’t damage the environment and is not corrosive. It is also not chlorinated and comes with no ozone-depleting substances. Besides, it doesn’t come with cresylic and phenols.
3) Gumout 800002230
The Gumout 800002230 allows your care to do away with rough idling, difficult starting, high level of exhaust emissions, and even stalling. The Gumout 800002230 can remove with ease buildup and deposits of sticky film inside the carburetor. In doing so, it can enhance your engine performance as well as your fuel consumption.
In addition, it can clean away dirt, varnish, gum from the carburetor and valves. It also efficiently cleans (unpainted) metal components. Plus, it quickly dries. With its use, you can get the performance of your engine back. It is an aerosol spray that comes in a 16-oz can.
4) CRC Carb Aerosol Spray Cleaner
If you are looking for a carb cleaner in an aerosol can, you should check out the CRC Carb Cleaner Aerosol Spray. It effectively removes dirt, gum, sludge, varnish buildup, and deposits in your carburetor. CRC can break down the abovementioned deposits to prevent additional buildup. In doing so, it can enhance your engine performance.
The CRC comes in a 12oz aerosol can, allowing you to specifically target specific parts of your carburetor, automatic chokes, ventilating systems, and intake parts that you would like to clean. It is made of not-so-volatile compounds that efficiently dissolve buildup and deposits. Moreover, it acts fast without harming your car’s catalytic converters and oxygen sensors.
5) WD-40 – 300134 Specialist Carb Cleaner
The WD-40 – 300134 is a spray cleaner that you can use to clean the carburetor. It can also clean the throttle body and any metal without paint. It can break down tough carbon deposits and blast away waste and broken-down residues. Hence, after using it, you will notice a remarkable improvement in your engine performance.
Since it is an aerosol cleaner, you don’t need to dip and scrub deposits. You only need to spray the content onto the area that you would like to clean. You can use it in both the carburetor and the throttle body. One downside of using this spray cleaner is its lack of straw for precisely streaming onto the specific part you would like to clean.
6) 3M Throttle Plate and Carb Cleaner
The 3M carb cleaner can remove buildup and residue and lubricate your carburetor assemblies as well as the throttle body. It features a trigger that is easy to control and a nozzle that is perfect for use even if the aerosol can get positioned upside down. After using it, you will notice a remarkable improvement in your car engine performance. It is a go-to cleaner if you want to solve some fuel issues due to deposits and the buildup of sticky film on the walls of your carburetor.
One downside of using this cleaner is its high acetone content that tends to blur or cloud paint and plastic. It is advisable to wear solvent-resistant gloves when using this cleaner to ensure that you are safe when handling this cleaner.
What is a Carburetor and a Carburetor Cleaning Solvent?
The carburetor is a device for internal combustion engines that mix fuel and air in an air-fuel ratio perfect for combustion. The gasoline usually dries out in the carburetor, causing a buildup of sticky films on the walls of the carburetor over time. Thus, you need to clean the carburetor using specific cleaning solvents to keep your car engine in top-notch condition.
Cleaning the carburetor using cleaning solvents can be very beneficial to your engine system. It helps improve engine power and maintain gas mileage.
You can buy these cleaning solvents in gallon-sized cans with an accompanying soaking basket. These solvents are perfect for cleaning the carburetor parts like the carb body. They are pretty easy to use. You only need to pour the solvents into the basket, then dip the parts that you would like to clean onto the soaking basket. The soaking baskets, of course, are reusable.
Essential Factors to Consider When Choosing a Carburetor Cleaner
You are indeed a step closer to finding the best carburetor cleaner once you know the most recommended carburetor cleaners in the market today. Nevertheless, it will also help if you know the essential factors to consider when selecting a carburetor cleaner to zero in on the ideal one for your needs:
Effectiveness in Removing the Buildup of Sticky Films
One factor you should look for in a carburetor cleaner is its effectiveness in removing sticky films from the carburetor walls. It defeats the purpose if the cleaner you select would fail to eliminate the gunk and grimes on the carburetor walls.
Of course, you may use up a few cans to entirely clean the deposits and buildup. Nevertheless, each cleaner can that you will use should contribute to removing the residue and buildup. If the cleaner fails to do away with sticky films effectively, then it is useless.
It Should Emit Less Odor
Another factor to consider is low odor emission. It is a fact that the intensity of carburetor cleaner concoction usually goes hand in hand with the amount of volatile organic compounds found in the cleaner. So, the stronger your cleaner is, the stronger its odor.
Nevertheless, cleaners come with various compounds. So, you got a variety of options at hand. Some have more pungent odors, while some have more acceptable odors. So, it will surely help to go for something that will not intensely irritate your nostrils and lungs when using it.
The carburetor cleaner should also be easily storable. Of course, you will sometimes not end up consuming all the solvent cleaners that you have bought. More often, there will be leftovers that you need to store for future usage so that you won’t be returning to the auto parts store to avail of another can of carburetor cleaner.
In such a case, you would want to buy something that is easily storable. Its cap should be easy to replace, and it should be easy to store in a cool and climate-controlled place.
Dip versus Spray
Another factor worth considering is whether to select a spray or a dip-type carburetor cleaner. Each option, of course, comes with advantages and disadvantages. So, it will help to consider the pros and cons of each option to come up with a wise choice for your needs.
Spray cans, for sure, are more convenient and easier to use, while solvents with a soaking basket necessitate more time. But they are best if you are going to clean many items.
The Amount and Level of Cleaning Needed
If you haven’t cleaned your vehicle’s engine for a very long time, you will be in for a lot of cleaning. In such a case, you need to buy a large amount of cleaners for your carburetor. If such is the case, you might as well go for dipping cans if you need to engage in a large amount of cleaning. Nevertheless, if you intend to clean a single carburetor, you may only need a few cans of spray cleaner.
What Compounds Make Up Solvent-based Cleaners?
If you are not a certified chemist—who could synthesize and analyze compounds—then you got no way to figure out the ingredients of a solvent-based carburetor cleaner except by relying on what the manufacturers indicate in the label. The obvious thing, however, is that carburetor cleaners come with toxic chemicals. Hence, it will help to handle them safely and with care when you use them.
Some of these ingredients may include harmful chemical compounds and petroleum ingredients. So, for example, if you are using a spray cleaner, the cleaner would need a propellant ingredient.
Of course, the formulation of the cleaner carries deadly compounds that could burn your clothing and skin. For this reason, you need to use these cleaners with care. Here is a rundown of the common ingredients found in the solvent-based cleaners:
Methyl Ethyl Ketone
One popular compound used in carb cleaners is methyl ethyl ketone. This compound can degrease and clean deposits and buildup of grime and sticky films. For this reason, it is commonly used in commercial carb cleaners. Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) is likewise known as butanone. MEK is also a ketone with a sweet and sharp smell like that of acetone and mint. It is highly flammable and can cause serious irritation to your eyes and nose. So, you only need to use it in a well-ventilated area.
The acetone carries a solvent property which makes it very popular for industrial usage. Hence, around 12 percent of acetone in use worldwide are utilized in cleaning solvent. The acetone, of course, is highly combustible.
Therefore, when using it, you should avoid any heat or ignition source. For this reason, you should not use carburetor cleaners in cramped places. You must only use it in ventilated areas.
Xylene is a colorless and highly flammable liquid. It is a valuable petrochemical formed by catalytic reforming. Moreover, it is found in crude oil, gasoline, and aircraft fuels. As a product of catalytic reforming, xylene has many applications, including its use as a solvent. It has a strong yet sweet odor.
Another compound found in most solvents for cleaning carburetors is Toluene. It is colorless like xylene and has a pungent smell. It is often utilized in aviation fuels and other applications like making perfumes, medicines, dyes, detergents, and explosives.
As an aromatic hydrocarbon, it has the smell associated with the smell of the paint thinners. When inhaled, it can cause severe neurological defects.
Ethyl Benzene is a compound (organic) that is highly flammable. It is colorless as a liquid and carries the same odor as that of gasoline. This hydrocarbon is valuable in the industry of petrochemical. It occurs naturally in petroleum and coal tar and is commonly used as an anti-knock agent. In addition, it is a common ingredient in solvents for cleaning carburetors.
Propane is a by-product of a dual process called petroleum refining and natural gas processing. Propane is an odorless and colorless gas. Complete combustion of propane can produce enough heat. Yet, its combustion is cleaner than that of unleaded gasoline and coal.
It is also a popular choice for portable stoves. It is also used in motor fuel and is a common ingredient in carburetor cleaning solvents.
Another organic compound found in carburetor solvent cleaners is 2-Butoxyethanol. It is a colorless liquid that comes with a sweet and ether-like odor. Moreover, it is a relatively non-expensive and non-volatile solvent and is commonly used in many industrial and domestic products.
It is also a verified respiratory irritant, so you need to use it with care. Besides, it is used as a solvent that dissolves hydrophobic and water-soluble substances.
Chlorinated Vs. Non-chlorinated Carb Cleaners
Another thing that may be worth considering when buying a carb cleaner is whether it is chlorinated or not. Some places, for example, like in the state of California, ban the use of chlorinated cleaners. So, if you live there, you won’t have the dilemma of choosing between chlorinated and non-chlorinated.
The reason behind the banning of chlorinated carburetor cleaner is that it contains several VOCs or Volatile Organic Compounds. Yet, these VOCs are the most potent in removing contaminants in the carburetor, so they are indispensable in the making of solvent cleaners. Nevertheless, the good thing about chlorinated cleaners is that they are non-flammable.
The non-chlorinated carburetor cleaners are less-toxic, on the other hand, are more flammable. But they are available in the nearest auto parts stores around the United States. The non-chlorinated cleaners also don’t dry fast as compared to the chlorinated ones. Nevertheless, they are safer when used on plastic materials.
With the development and advancements in computers, most vehicles nowadays use computerized fuel injection systems. These computerized systems allow for peak efficiency for the engine in all situations. Computerized fuel injection systems also let you start the engine real quick, even on very cold days. So, if you have a car with a newer model, you no longer need to worry about which carburetor solvent cleaner you would buy.
Direct injection in the system paved the way for the phasing out of cars with carburetors. Yet, if you are still one of those sticklers for old cars equipped with carburetors, you would indeed find the abovementioned tips in cleaning the carburetor handy when cleaning your car’s carburetors.