Can You Use Brake Cleaner As A Starting Fluid? (Explained)

You can use brake cleaner as a starting fluid but only in little quantities. While this brake cleaner will work without complications, you should only use it in an emergency.

You might notice your car refuses to start during cold weather. This is where the starting fluid comes in. 

It serves as fuel to kickstart your engine. It’s the best option to use and start your car in such a situation.

Ensuring you use the right substitute as a starter fluid will keep you safe on the roads and ensure you’re not caught up in any mix. 

In this article, we’ll look at if the brake cleaner is the same as a starting fluid and what else can be considered a starting fluid. 

Is Brake Cleaner The Same As Starting Fluid

No. The brake cleaner was created for a different purpose, so it’s not the same as a starting fluid. It was created to wipe off stains from your brake. 

Can You Use Brake Cleaner As A Starting Fluid

The main purpose for which the brake cleaner was created is to clean off the dirt from your brake plates and wipe oil and stains from the brake pads. The brake cleaner is less expensive than starting fluids but can carry out its functions. 

The major difference between these two is that brake cleaners are toxic to the environment. They emit gasses that are harmful to the respiratory system and the skin. While starting fluid, don’t do any of this.

A starting fluid contributes to keeping the combustion chamber running, is also a lubricant, and is flammable.

If you don’t have a starting fluid at home, you can start your car engine with brake fluid. 

However, you can only rely on them to start fluid for a while because they possess different chemicals. 

Is It Safe To Use Brake Cleaner As A Starting Fluid?

Yes, it is safe to use a brake cleaner as a starting fluid. However, it would be best if you didn’t use the brake cleaner routinely since it’s not an original starting fluid. 

Using brake cleaner as a starting fluid can cause damage to your engine since it was made to be a cleaning agent. It will cause the oil in your combustion chamber to dry up immediately. 

In addition to smoothing out the engine, it creates a good ambiance for the engine to start. 

However, if you use it regularly, you will permanently damage your engine, which will require a big repair.

Also, you stand the chance of lung collapse and skin damage if you regularly use brake cleaner as a starting fluid. It emits gasses that, if inhaled, will cause severe damage to the user. 

Using Brake Cleaner As A Starting Fluid

The brake cleaner is perfect for starting your car, even though it serves an entirely different purpose.

You can use it as starting fluid, but it should only be done during an emergency. 

It would be helpful if you didn’t continuously use the brake cleaner as a starting fluid. This is because your engine will suffer from it in the long run.

While you spray the brake fluid into the engine chamber, it removes all oil particles from the combustion chamber, drying up the engine. 

If you use this cleaner regularly, you can end up having a complete engine breakdown from the dryness of the engine oil. 

Also, the exhaust that comes out from the breakdown of this brake cleaner is more toxic than the usual starting fluid.

However, it is advised that you use brake cleaner as a substitute for starting fluid because if you start your engine without liquid, it will emit more toxic gasses. 

Before using this brake cleaner as a starting fluid, note that the brake cleaner comes in cans and aerosol spray. You are only to use the aerosol spray as the starting fluid. 

When using the aerosol spray, ensure you read the content of the spray and that the content is flammable or explosive. There are also volatile brake cleaners that could be better for your engine.

What Else Can You Use As A Starting Fluid?

Asides from using the brake cleaner, you can also use carburetor spray, hair spray, and propane from an unlit torch.

Any flammable automotive product that comes in a spray can be a great substitute for starting fluid. 

In that case, you can use the following as a starting fluid substitute.

  • Windex bottle filled with little gasoline with a 2-stroke mix 
  • Carburetor cleaner
  • Brake cleaner
  • Mass airflow sensor cleaner
  • Throttle body cleaner
  • Cleaning solvents are also known as parts cleaners.
  • Seafoam engine cleaner.
  • Degreaser
  • WD-40
  • Hairspray works in an emergency but is not recommended. It glues stuff together.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Many must learn that the brake cleaner can act as a starting fluid. They see them as ordinary cleaning agents that are non-combustible. 

If you have the same line of thought, you should give it a trial today and see its effect. However, it would be best to use it occasionally to avoid engine breakdown.

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I’ve been riding (bicycles) my entire life and am passionate about everything that comes along with it. I wouldn’t call myself a true “roadie”. I’m just a guy that loves riding because of the pure joy it brings.

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