WD40 is a lubricant made by, unsurprisingly, the rather uninspiringly named WD40 Company (we happen to think that the original name of the company, the Rocket Chemical Company, is a name infinitely more evocative of its pioneering roots in the early 1950s).
It is utilized as lubrication in such a wide variety of uses and occasions that it would be easy to believe that you may apply it to cure the squeaky brakes of your car or your motorcycle.
WD40 should not be put on your brakes. As a lubricant, it will reduce the friction coefficiency of your braking system in converting kinetic energy – your forward momentum – into thermal energy. The only efficiency in this instance would be to reduce brake squeal at the cost of stopping power.
So let’s look at the reasons why you should never put it on your brakes and where you should use it to maximum effect.
What is WD40?
In the words of the WD40 Company themselves:
“While the “W-D” in WD-40® stands for Water Displacement, 40th formula, WD-40® Multi-Use Product is a unique, special blend of lubricants. The product’s formulation also contains anti-corrosion agents and ingredients for penetration, water displacement, and soil removal.”
They are, however, rather coy about the precise formulation, and consider it a closely guarded secret. They go on to say, with, some would say, a rather ill-conceived smugness;
“If you really need the secret formula, you can find it……written on a single notepad……locked in a vault……somewhere in California……if you can get in”.
So, in essence, WD40 is a lubricant designed for a multitude of uses. They even have a list of 2000 recommended uses on the WD40 website here.
These suggestions include such accommodating exhortations as “removing coffee stains from leather”, “protecting snow shovels from salt”, “freeing stuck Lego blocks”, and “removing dried garbage from trash compactor wheels”.
This last submission, we would argue, is somewhat limited in its usefulness to 99.99% of the general population but, fair play to the Rocket Chemical Company, they promote it on their website with the same keenness as they advocate its use in preventing rust and corrosion.
With all those helpful suggestions you can surely find something to do with WD40 other than daubing it liberally on your brakes and then living (hopefully) to regret it as you slam on anchors when your motorcar inexorably.
Can You Use WD-40 On Squeaky Brakes
The braking system on your motor car, or your motorcycle, consists of several parts that need to work together in tight harmony to ensure that you can bring your vehicle to a standstill.
Speed is all very well but without an efficient braking system to harness and control that forward motion, your day is bound to end very badly indeed.
Spraying a lubricant like WD40 with its lubricating and penetrating qualities onto your calipers, brake rotors, brake pads, brake lines, and your master cylinder will result in expensive repairs and will ensure that your local mechanic considers you a “good” customer and possibly even worthy of a place on his Christmas card list.
Your panel beater will also have a soft place in his heart for you, which is a good thing as your insurance company may have a slightly different opinion of you in this regard.
On the plus side though, you will probably have consigned that annoying brake squeal to the trash heap of history (along with your motor car).
Like just about everything in life, there are pros and cons to every issue. Some may even suggest stepping away from the can of WD40 if you have such a thought in mind, but you will just have to figure that one out for yourself.
To make it abundantly clear, WD40 is a lubricant. If you spray it onto the disc rotors of your braking system it will ensure that your forward momentum, your kinetic energy, is maintained.
Your brake rotors and your brake pads work closely together to convert that kinetic energy into thermal energy through friction.
A lubricative substance, such as WD40, will seriously inhibit the ability of your brake pads to create that necessary friction against the disc rotor.
Stopping distances, as a result, will be greatly increased, and may lead, as we alluded to earlier, to your inexorable, if not ultimately enthusiastic, slide towards disaster and a lengthy, less than welcome, email “bounce-back” with your insurance company.
What Is WD-40 Primary Use
Ok, so, hopefully, we have convinced you that it may be less than wise to use it on your brake system in order to get rid of rust or reduce the dreaded brake squeak. But what are you supposed to do with that can of WD40 you have just bought?
We cannot do much better than give you the answer to the primary uses of WD40 that has been provided by the esteemed people at The WD40 Company themselves;
“WD-40® Multi-Use Product protects metal from rust and corrosion, penetrates stuck parts, displaces moisture, and lubricates almost anything. It even removes grease, grime, and more from most surfaces.”
This rather dreary advice, which, unfortunately, reads like a rather uninspiring and unenthusiastic advertising slogan from some dismal, dystopian future-world actually contains all the information you will need to know about the product.
If you, like us, tend to “read the … manual”, and you inspect their somewhat bland statement closely, you will find that it does not mention that WD40 may, or ever should be, used anywhere near your brake system.
The WD40 Company sells over one million units of their product every week. If there ever was a product that managed to “do what it says on the tin” then it is WD40.
Its applications, however, are limited to those which the company recommends and, of course, the 2000 or so uses that their grateful customers have sent into their website.
None of those submissions has included putting WD40 on your brakes. We are tempted to consider this as overwhelming evidence against that particular application.