WD-40 has got many uses when it comes to automobiles. One of the uses of WD-40 in cars is acting as a substitute for starting fluid.
For whatever reason, if your vehicle isn’t starting, spraying some WD-40 in the air intake can help your car start on a cold morning.
The science behind that is that the ingredients found in WD-40 are highly flammable and can trigger combustion in the engine.
The use of a WD-40 as a starting fluid substitute has been practiced for years by mechanics and car owners. Even though WD-40 isn’t a starting fluid, its ingredients allow it to work as an excellent substitute.
If you have a car that has trouble starting and you have some WD-40 cans lying around, grab some and watch this multi-purpose product do its job.
Table of Contents
- What is a Starting Fluid?
- How to Use WD-40 as a Starting Fluid?
- Does WD-40 Contain Ether?
- Is WD-40 Better than Regular Starting Fluids?
- Why Should I Use WD-40 Instead of Starting Fluids?
- What’s the Difference Between WD-40 and Starting Fluid?
- What about Carb Cleaner?
- Will WD-40 Damage My Engine?
- What are Other Alternatives for Starting Fluid?
- Should I Always Use WD-40 as a Starting Fluid?
What is a Starting Fluid?
To better understand whether WD-40 can be used as a starting fluid alternative, we must define what this fluid is and why you may need it.
Most car owners whose vehicles have been on the road for a while are familiar with starting fluids.
These are products used to help engines start in cars that have an issue with the ignition system. Or on vehicles whose engines won’t start because it’s too cold.
Starting fluids are packed in spray cans and comprise ether, a highly flammable substance.
The ether triggers combustion in the engine, thus helping it start no matter how cold it is.
Though useful, car owners are advised not to use starting fluids because they can cover up serious issues such as a faulty starter and alternator or a dead battery. It’s advisable to use starting fluid only when necessary.
How to Use WD-40 as a Starting Fluid?
Knowing what a starting fluid is and how WD-40 can act as a substitute, the next thing that’s on your mind is how to use it. If you want to use WD-40 to start your car, you should treat it exactly as you would when using starting fluid.
First, you should determine whether it’s safe to use starting fluid on your car. There are certain vehicles whose manufacturers don’t recommend the use of starting fluid.
If it’s okay to use starting fluid, open your hood and look for the air intake. This component differs in location from one car to another. You can refer to your manual if you don’t know where it is.
It’s best to remove the air filter so that you can spray the WD-40 directly into the air intake.
Spray at least thrice while holding the can several inches away from the air intake. Put the filter back in its location.
Get inside the car and try to switch the engine on. The WD-40 should trigger combustion in most cars, and the car should start right away. If it doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to repeat the above method twice or thrice.
If WD-40 fails to start your engine completely, you may have a severe mechanical issue that needs to be addressed. In such scenarios, contact your mechanic for a professional diagnosis.
Does WD-40 Contain Ether?
You will not find ether when you read through the list of ingredients found in WD-40. Ether is the main ingredient that helps cars start in conventional starting fluids.
For a car owner interested in seeing how WD-40 works as a starting fluid alternative, you are wondering how does it work?
Ether isn’t the only flammable substance. Many ingredients out there are highly volatile, and WD-40 contains some of them. Examples include propane and butane.
The manufacturers of WD-40 recommend that it be used away from flames, sparks, and electrical components because it is highly flammable. This flammability makes it an excellent candidate to replace regular starting fluids.
Is WD-40 Better than Regular Starting Fluids?
Besides being a substitute for starting fluid, mechanics and car owners claim that WD-40 is even better than regular starting fluids.
As a car owner, this can leave you confused about whether these claims are true or false. We researched this matter and came to the following conclusion.
Conventional starting fluids contain one key ingredient – ether. Even though ether does a perfect job at helping engines start, it dries out the engine.
For those of you who have used WD-40, you are familiar with its lubrication properties. Unlike ether which strips out any oils in the engine system, WD-40 does the exact opposite.
It helps with starting engines, and at the same time, it lubricates the motors, cylinders, and other moving parts, ensuring the engine performs better.
Why Should I Use WD-40 Instead of Starting Fluids?
We have always been adamant about using products for purposes they have not been intended to. But in this case, we are willing to turn a blind eye. That is because WD-40 hasn’t only proved itself to be effective but appears to be a superior alternative.
If you have a starting fluid in your garage, you can always use it to start your engine on cold days. But how many people have starting fluids stored waiting for such an issue?
There is a higher probability of having a can of WD-40 somewhere in your home than a can of starting fluid.
Most people use WD-40 as a starting fluid, not because they don’t like regular starting fluids. It’s because WD-40 is a multi-purpose product. It has got many uses at home and in cars.
This wide availability and the fact that it lubricates alongside starting your car engine makes it a better choice than regular starting fluids.
What’s the Difference Between WD-40 and Starting Fluid?
Just because both can do the same job, it doesn’t mean they are the same. Starting fluid is used to start vehicles whose engines are either too cold or have an issue with the ignition.
WD-40 is a penetrating oil used to displace moisture, lubricate and protect the metal from corrosion. These are two products that are made from very different ingredients.
Therefore, apart from starting engines, there isn’t any other similarity between WD-40 and starting fluid. So you can’t use these two interchangeably.
What about Carb Cleaner?
Carburetor cleaner is formulated to clean carbon and oil deposits in carburetors.
It can also be used as a starting fluid because it contains flammable ingredients that will trigger combustion in the engine. If you don’t have some WD-40, you can always use carb cleaner as a starting fluid alternative.
Most cleaners and liquids used on various engine parts can be used interchangeably.
For instance, carb cleaner can be used instead of starting fluid and WD-40. WD-40 can also be used as a carburetor cleaner.
Even though it isn’t as strong as a carb cleaner, it can penetrate through deposits and get rid of the gunk that may be blocking your carburetor.
WD-40 is safer on the plastic and rubber components in your carburetor. It’s safer than brake cleaners.
Will WD-40 Damage My Engine?
WD-40 won’t harm your engine. It will promote its performance by lubricating the motors and cylinders. You don’t have to be afraid of spraying WD-40 into the air intake because the ingredients added to your engine will aid in combustion.
The rest will lubricate mechanical parts and, in the process, get rid of dirt and carbon buildup. Compared to brake cleaner, WD-40 is safe on the engine. You can also spray WD-40 on the spark plugs to remove carbon deposits.
What are Other Alternatives for Starting Fluid?
If you don’t have starting fluid and WD-40, you can use premixed gas used in chainsaws and lawn equipment. Premixed gas is an effective engine starter when it’s cold.
It needs to be premixed, or you risk drying out your cylinder walls in the engine. This is the next best alternative for starting fluid after WD-40.
Avoid using other products you aren’t sure of because you may hurt your engine. The engine is a very delicate part of your car. You need to be mindful of what you feed it.
Should I Always Use WD-40 as a Starting Fluid?
To emphasize what we said earlier, WD-40 can start an engine, but it’s not a starting fluid. The propellant aspect of WD-40 is responsible for promoting combustion in the engine.
The rest of WD-40 contains lubricants and cleaners. Because of the above, you shouldn’t make a habit of using WD-40 to start an engine.
There are starting fluids out there that contain a more comprehensive formula than just ether which dries the engine.
If your car often requires the help of starting fluid, you need to look for a product that is effective, safe, and won’t interfere with the engine’s performance.
Through research, you should be able to identify an effective starting fluid. However, on occasions when your engine doesn’t want to start on a cold morning, some WD-40 can save the day.
Also, if a car always needs a starting fluid, then it is in urgent need of professional repair and maintenance.
Fixing the underlying issue ensures you don’t over-rely on starting fluid and its alternatives.