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Degreaser solvents are commonly used on metal surfaces to get rid of various contaminants like oil, grease, corrosion inhibitors, fingerprints, etc. For that, they can be a very helpful tool for cleaning a car, thanks to the ability of their chemical formula to break up the toughest grease and oil stains.
Moreover, they provide heavy-duty performance for areas that are hard to clean such as engine & engine bays and exceptionally dirty wheels.
But, what would happen if you accidentally smeared the degreaser on car paint? Will the degreaser damage the car paint or is it safe to use on painted surfaces?
Well, let’s find out!
Does engine degreaser damage car paint?
Engine degreasers can either be classified as mild or heavy-duty solutions, depending on their main component or cleaning abilities. Generally, a degreaser contains 3 main ingredients; sodium carbonate (washing soda/ash soda), sodium metasilicate, and sodium tripolyphosphate.
Washing soda tends to scratch delicate surfaces since it’s more abrasive. Not to forget that it can discolor the paint on the car’s exterior since it’s alkaline.
In concentrated amounts, applying the degreaser to car paint tends to remove the wax from its finish. So, although the degreaser will not directly damage your car paint, removing the wax exposes the paint to weather elements.
As a result, the paint will get destroyed or fade in the long run. In addition, some engine degreasers contain stain residues that might leave marks or cause the paint to start peeling or dulling.
That said, a degreaser is a great option if you want to remove all the old wax on your car to apply a new layer. However, if you want to use it to remove stains or grease in certain parts of the car, make sure you re-wax that part afterward.
More importantly, make sure you dilute the degreaser with water before you apply it to the car’s exterior to reduce its potency. Using a pure degreaser or a stronger mixture may remove some of the printed markings of the car.
Is it safe to use a degreaser to remove grease from auto paint?
As already mentioned, a degreaser is a highly abrasive solution that is specifically designed to lift grease off metal surfaces. Unfortunately, due to its strength, the degreaser will start damaging both the grease stain and the car paint underneath as soon as you apply it.
For that reason, you should immediately remove it from the car body paint if you apply it or spill it accidentally. Also, you should avoid using a degreaser to remove grease stains from the car’s body paint since it can cause corrosion, peeling, or discoloration, especially in its concentrated form.
With that in mind, here are some of the methods you can use to safely remove engine degreasers from car paint:
- If you accidentally spill a degreaser on the car paint, the first step is to flush it off immediately with water. Rinse the area with clean water to flush as much of the concentrated engine degreaser as possible. Water dilutes the concentration of the degreaser and reduces the damage to the car paint.
- Wipe down the area with a microfiber towel or soft rag after flushing the degreaser off the car paint with water. Next, inspect the car paint for stains, scratches, and other damages.
- Use a paint-safe scratch & stain remover to remove the grease stain, depending on how much damage was done to the car
- Gently apply a scratch & stain remover with a microfiber towel/ applicator swab to avoid causing further damage to the body paint
- Lastly, polish and wax the affected area after removing all the degreasers to reduce the visible damage to the auto paint coat. Moreover, polishing and waxing the car evens out the imperfections and restores the paint to its original finish.
Although you can use an engine degreaser on your car, it’s important to ensure that you use the right one and wax the parts you use it on. Moreover, make sure the solution is properly diluted to reduce the risk of damaging the coat of paint underneath.
Alternatively, consider using water to remove grease stains from car paint and scrub the stained area with dish soap and a microfiber towel.