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Old 06-14-09, 07:54 PM   #1
PrinceTT
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What is the most effective way to clean oily brake pads?

Hi,

Anyone know what is the best way to clean the oil from disc brake rotor and pads?
I tried hot water, burning it out going down hill, and alcohol and the only method that came close was braking full force going down a big hill, but this only worked for some time. I think when the brake cools it becomes less effective again.
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Old 06-14-09, 07:56 PM   #2
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Rubbing alcohol for the rotor. Pads no idea. I'm a disc brake nubtart.
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Old 06-14-09, 09:35 PM   #3
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Suggest product called 'Brakleen', automotive department or auto parts store. Stuff is vile until it evaporates, use outdoors. Spray brake cleaner.
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Old 06-14-09, 09:37 PM   #4
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I have some "bike cleaner" that's essentially automotive brake cleaner minus a few of the less bike-friendly solvents.

Alternately, remove pads and give a spritz with vastly cheaper automotive brake cleaner.
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Old 06-14-09, 10:45 PM   #5
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Brake Cleaner, Cheap and you can get it at any auto parts store. Make sure there are no people, buildings, wildlife, pets, grass, and a whole list of things nearby. Use it outdoors. That s**t will eat through anything. However, like Operator says, I've used rubbing alcohol on car disk brakes and it works, just not as well as brake cleaner.
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Old 06-14-09, 11:30 PM   #6
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Yeah, alcohol is a polar solvent and won't dissolve oil & grease. Brake Cleaner typically has a combination of non-polar aromatic compounds that do a very good job on removing oil & grease from brake parts.
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Old 06-14-09, 11:47 PM   #7
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Best way?

New pads.
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Old 06-14-09, 11:54 PM   #8
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If someone would read and type the contents of a can - or three if three of you do - of their favorite brake-cleaner, I, as an organic chemist (which DannoXYZ also seems to have a good knowledge of) could suggest what to buy at a hardware-store for much less than the stuff that's sold specifically for brakes in the automotive section.

My current guess is Xylene - aka Xylol. But that's a guess - before you run off to TruValue.
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Old 06-15-09, 12:28 AM   #9
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Mostly your pads are done when contaminated. You might be able to bake off the contaminant with high heat, but depends on pad compound and your method. Best is to not contaminate your disc brakes in the first place, ever. Rotors can be cleaned/sanded. Replace the pads.
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Old 06-15-09, 12:38 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Panthers007 View Post
If someone would read and type the contents of a can - or three if three of you do - of their favorite brake-cleaner, I, as an organic chemist (which DannoXYZ also seems to have a good knowledge of) could suggest what to buy at a hardware-store for much less than the stuff that's sold specifically for brakes in the automotive section.
$2.35 at Farm Fleet for a windex-esque spray bottle. It don't get much cheaper than that.
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Old 06-15-09, 08:37 AM   #11
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On cars, when brake pads are contaminated with oil, we replace them.
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Old 06-15-09, 12:05 PM   #12
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Once you factor in the: a.) time it takes to "clean" the pads and the b.) questionable results of the whole process; getting new pads right away(before trying to clean the old pads) is the cheapest route IME.
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Old 06-15-09, 02:11 PM   #13
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Dish detergent is a great grease and oil cutter and won't react with the brake pad material. But I'm with the replacement guys. Just make sure the braking surfaces on your wheels are squeeky clean.
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Old 06-15-09, 02:21 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wordbiker View Post
Best way?

New pads.
+1. Pads are kinda like sponges. And unlike auto pads, they'll never get hot enough to burn it out.
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Old 06-15-09, 02:32 PM   #15
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Albany Brake Parts Cleaner - "Contains Toluene and other petroleum distillates."

Advanced Auto Parts BPC mentions Tetrachloroethylene, Carbon Dioxide (!), and the possibility of death or worse.
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Old 06-15-09, 08:34 PM   #16
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Get new pads and clean the rotors.

I have never had luck getting contaminated pads back to life.
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Old 06-15-09, 09:21 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bikinfool View Post
Mostly your pads are done when contaminated. You might be able to bake off the contaminant with high heat, but depends on pad compound and your method. Best is to not contaminate your disc brakes in the first place, ever. Rotors can be cleaned/sanded. Replace the pads.
+1000 your life can depend on these.
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Old 06-16-09, 02:04 AM   #18
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Here's some active ingredients of common brake-cleaners found at auto-parts stores:

Champion 4126P Brake Parts Cleaner
90-94% PERCHOLETHYLENE cas=127-18-4
3-7% XYLENE cas=1330-20-7

Pyroil Brake Parts Cleaner
90-100% TETRACHLOROETHENE

Brakleen Brake Parts Cleaner
45-55% ACETONE
22-32% TOLUENE
15-25% METHANOL

3M 08880 High Power Brake Cleaner
10-30% 3-METHYLHEXANE
10-30% HEPTANE
10-30% PROPANE
10-30% XYLENE
7-13% METHYL ALCOHOL
5-10% 2-METHYLHEXANE
3-7% ETHYLBENZENE
1-5% 2,3-DIMETHYLPENTANE
1-5% 3-ETHYLPENTANE.
1-5% DIMETHYLCYCLOPENTANE
1-5% METHYLCYCLOHEXANE
<0.3% TOLUENE
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Old 06-16-09, 06:52 AM   #19
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Horrible stuff...do you actually use that on bicycle pads? What's your success rate?
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Old 06-16-09, 07:14 AM   #20
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The traditional way for automobile brake shoes (this pre-dates disc brakes) was to soak them in gasoline, place them somewhere safe (like on a concrete driveway), and light them on fire. I have no idea if the adhesive used on bike pads would hold up to this abuse.
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Old 06-16-09, 09:45 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by wordbiker View Post
best way?

New pads.
+1 !
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Old 06-16-09, 07:22 PM   #22
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I use a file or sandpaper. I rub the brake pads on a medium or fine file to remove some of the old brake pad materials. Sometimes I use sandpaper on a flat metal surface such as a table saw and rub the brake pads on the sandpaper.
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Old 06-16-09, 07:48 PM   #23
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Quote:
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I use a file or sandpaper. I rub the brake pads on a medium or fine file to remove some of the old brake pad materials. Sometimes I use sandpaper on a flat metal surface such as a table saw and rub the brake pads on the sandpaper.
Won't do much good on disc brake pads- they soak up the oil like a sponge all the way through.
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Old 06-16-09, 09:14 PM   #24
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white lightning makes a product called Clean Streak. great stuff
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Old 06-16-09, 09:56 PM   #25
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omnipotent, where do you work to possibly see enough contaminated bicycle brake pads for "hundreds" of cans of that stuff?
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