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Is there a way to restore bike disk brakes that have had oil on them, without replacing the pads and torching the disks? Answered

When oiling my bike the other week, I managed to get oil on the disk brakes. I've tried cleaning them with detergent, and even boiling the pads (apparently this gets the oil out), but have had only very limited success.
I was told that the only way to get the brakes back to their previous condition was to replace the pads, and get the disks torched (i.e. with a blowtorch), to burn off the oil. Is this true, or is there another way? (Preferably more DIY / requiring less replacement parts)



5 years ago

Auto parts stores, and hardware stores, and probably WalMart, have a special formula spray can of brake cleaning fluid. It is meant to get all the oil off of disks and pads including the oil from fingers. Its a type of lacquer thinner I think and leaves no residue when it dries. DO NOT get it on any paint as it will eat it or at least take the shine off of it. It also kills bugs super fast if you ever need a bug poison that leaves no trace behind (but does go into the air). Crickets die in seconds from the stuff. which should tell you to use it with care. In a pinch it can also be used as a mini flame thrower. All of this from a can that costs about 3 bucks. Try it first. I would think that using a torch on a brake disk would carry the risk of warping it. Bike disks are not really designed for the kind of high temperatures that cars experience.

Well, I dropped down to my local Auto part store, and found cans of both brake degreaser ($11 a can) and regular degreaser. ($2.20 a can).
Failing to see much difference other than the labelling, I tried the regular degreaser, but despite a thorough application and a good cleaning afterwards, I don't seem to get any improvement.
Would brake degreaser still work if regular degreaser had no effect? From what I've been told, the oil actually sinks into the brake pads, so would it be worthwhile to save the $11 and just get the pads replaced?

+1, we used brake cleaner to clean everything in the auto shop I used to work at.

+1 on the Brake and clutch cleaner. The stuff we have in the UK will clean almost anything, but as Vyger says, it is best to keep it away from any paintwork. Make sure to give the parts a good wipe off while they are still wet, as the cleaner has a tendency to evaporate off, leaving some of the dirt behind if you just leave it.