Can I Clean Timing Belt with Brake Cleaner? Explained

You cannot clean the timing belt with brake cleaner because of the harmful chemical it contains. Brake cleaner is a strong solvent-based cleaner that can have disastrous effects on the timing belt. It can even destroy the timing belt completely if used repeatedly.

So the answer to the question “can I clean timing belt with brake cleaner”  is ‘No’ you can not clean the timing belt with brake cleaner. But why is brake cleaner so harmful to the timing belt even though it is widely used to clean other parts?

And what can you use to clean the timing belt during maintenance? Continue reading about that below:

Can I Clean Timing Belt with Brake Cleaner?

No, you can not clean timing belts with brake cleaner. Timing belts are built with rubber, nylon, and other reinforced materials such as neoprene and fibreglass. A good timing belt usually lasts for about 60,000 to 100,000 miles. And, note that timing belts can even affect gas mileage.

But Brake Cleaners have really harsh ingredients, which can be destructive for the timing belt. The majority of solvent-based brake cleaners contain volatile chemical components (VOCs). This mixture contains hexane, toluene, xylene, heptane, methanol, and a few chlorinated hydrocarbons. The majority of these VOCs are seriously destructive to rubber.

Methanol, particularly, can be hazardous for rubber. So, excessive use of the brake cleaner can cause the rubber to wear out faster.


Cleaning the timing belt with Brake Cleaner is not advised. Because it contains dangerous substances like methanol. With prolonged use, these substances can damage the timing belt. 

How to Clean the Timing Belt?

So, what can you use to clean the timing belts if not brake cleaner? Let’s explore 

Simple Green or Household Degreaser

The most frequently suggested cleaner for timing belts is Simple Green as it’s safe to use on timing belts. Use a nylon brush or rug to lather some simple green over the timing belt.

Don’t apply excessive pressure to the brush. Rinse it with water after giving it a good scrub. You can make your own household degreaser with lemon juice and baking soda. However, if the proportions are off, your timing belt could suffer.

Soapy Water

Many people prefer Dawn Soap because of its quality. Mix one cup of blue Dawn dish soap, one cup of club soda, and one cup of white vinegar in a large spray container. 

To remove grease and deep clean, spray this solution freely and scrub with a brush. Afterward, use water to wash it off.

Denatured Alcohol

This is primarily used if the timing belt has any oil on it. Mix equal volumes of warm water and denatured alcohol. Then, put on gloves, dunk a clean rag in the solution, and wipe the belt down to remove the oil.

Additionally, unlike a soap-based cleaner, it will clean the oil without leaving any residue.

Steam Cleaner

Many automotive parts, including the timing belts, are now cleaned using steam cleaners. There are generally steam cleaner services available for vehicles if you don’t have a steam cleaner at home.

It uses high pressure to clean the parts and is really easy to use. They efficiently clean all components in a short time (1). However, several users have reported that some paint appears to be fading after a few steam cleanings.


Degreasers like Simple Green, Soapy Water, Dawn Soap, or steam cleaner can clean timing belts. Make sure to completely dry the timing belt before putting the timing belt cover back on.

Tips for Maintaining the Timing Belt

Timing belts have a specific time for replacement usually every 60,000 to 100,000 miles. So, be sure to inspect the belt once you hit the recommended replacement interval.

  • Check the tension of the timing belt to guarantee proper functionality. The belt could slip or stop working properly if it is too loose.
  • Keep the timing belt clean to prevent it from deteriorating. Use rubber-friendly cleaning products or a mild soap and water solution. To prevent the belt from becoming brittle, make sure to dry it completely.
  • Check the timing belt for wear indicators like fraying, cracks, or other problems. Replace it as soon as you can if you detect any damage.
  • Ensure the timing cover is in place and properly sealed. It protects the belt from dirt, dust, and other debris.

It’s a good idea to protect your timing belt through maintenance. But make sure to replace it within the recommended time by the manufacturers. Because a damaged timing belt can be a lot more expensive than replacing it. Also, a broken timing belt can cause a no-spark issue so, it’s best to ensure proper maintenance no matter what.

Maintaining the Timing Belt Infographic


Can I Use Brake Cleaner on My Serpentine Belt?

No, you can not use Brake Cleaner on your serpentine belt. Brake cleaner is a fast-drying solvent-based cleaner that includes strong chemicals. When used regularly, it can shorten the lifespan of your belts by causing rips and cracks.

Does Brake Cleaner Ruin Paint Surfaces?

The chemicals in brake cleaner have the possibility of damaging the paint. The paint would flake and crack due to the cleaner’s reaction to it, but it wouldn’t be removed entirely. This isn’t the same for all car paint, but avoiding the cleaner is for the best.

What is the Timing Belt’s Typical Lifespan?

Timing belts typically last between 60,000 and 100,000 miles, or 4-6 years. It may be different for your particular vehicle. The owner’s manual for your vehicle will provide the exact time.


That was all about can I clean timing belt with brake cleaner. However, if you have already used brake cleaner on your timing belt, it may not completely damage the timing belt. Make sure not to use it again.

Follow the maintenance tips and always stay on the lookout for any kind of wear or tear on the belts.

Until next time! Good Luck Cleaning!

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Aaron Byrne

Hi, Aaron Byrne here. I'm an expert automotive mechanic with 10 years of experience. I work on engine parts especially timing belts for their repair, maintenance, and replacement.

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Talha Atta

Talha Atta, a Mechanical Engineer and experienced technical content writer and editor at with a passion for the automotive industry.