First developed in 1953 by the Rocket Chemical Company in San Diego, California, the Water Displacement 40th Formula (WD-40) has been a multipurpose cleaning lubricant in households and industries for over 60 years.
Wondering when to use this lubricant on cars? Stay on this page to find out.
As reliable and effective as the WD-40 lubricant is, there are certain car components that you can’t use it on. Otherwise, you’ll damage the components instead of cleaning them.
Here are 5 different situations where you might consider using WD-40 on a car:
1. When there’s a buildup of tar, sap, or presence of bugs in a car
Tar, sap, and bugs are common substances that can accumulate on the surface of a car, especially if you often park it outside. They often form around vehicles due to the following reasons:
Proximity to plants
Bugs are attracted to plants and flowers, and if you park a car near them, they can easily land on it and leave behind their debris. This could eventually lead to the formation of bugs in your vehicle.
Tars are mostly common on roads that have been freshly paved or repaired. If a car drives on these roads, the tar can stick to the car’s tires and then transfer onto its surface. This would create an ugly appearance which you’d love to clean, right?
Bugs are more active during warmer months. So, they are more likely to be flying around and landing on cars during this time.
Poor car maintenance
If you fail to wash or wax your car regularly, substances like sap, tar, and bug debris can accumulate around it. The truth is, this could even become more difficult to remove if left unattended to.
When you notice the presence of tar, sap, and bugs in your car, it is important to wash and wax it regularly. To prevent their presence, avoid parking under trees or near plants, and avoid driving on roads that have been freshly paved or repaired.
However, you can use WD-40 to dissolve and remove these substances from your car without damaging its finish. Simply spray WD-40 onto the affected areas, let it settle for a few minutes, and then wipe it off with a clean cloth.
2. When you feel the need to lubricate the door hinges, locks, and latches
Sometimes, the door hinges, locks, and latches of your vehicle can become difficult to operate due to a variety of reasons. We list some of these reasons below.
Wear and tear
With regular use, hinges, locks, and latches can become worn and damaged over time. When this happens, they may become stiff and difficult to operate.
Rust and corrosion
No matter how careful and concerned you are about your vehicle, exposure to moisture and humidity is somewhat inevitable. And when it happens, it can cause the metal door components of a car to rust and corrode, making them difficult to operate.
Dirt and debris
Dust, dirt, and other debris can also accumulate in door hinges, locks, and latches over time. When this happens, the door becomes hard to move and operate smoothly. You’ll definitely need to clean the dirt and debris off before enjoying your car again.
Lack of lubrication
Since the door of a vehicle comprises different compartments, it does require proper lubrication to work smoothly. Otherwise, you may experience squealing or difficulty using the doors.
In short, without proper lubrication, door hinges, locks, and latches can become stiff and difficult to move.
To prevent these issues, it is important to regularly inspect and maintain these door parts. Preventive measures can include lubricating them with a suitable lubricant, cleaning out any dirt or debris, and making any necessary repairs or replacements.
You can use WD-40 to lubricate these components and keep them working smoothly.
3. When there are formations of rust on your car surface
Rust on a car surface often occurs due to a chemical reaction known as oxidation. Oxidation occurs when a substance loses electrons as it comes into contact with oxygen.
In the context of rust formation on a car surface, oxidation occurs when iron in the metal body of the car reacts with oxygen in the air. The iron atoms in the metal lose electrons to oxygen molecules, forming iron oxide – a reddish-brown substance we commonly refer to as rust.
Oxidation can occur with other metals as well, not just iron. For example, when copper is exposed to air, it undergoes oxidation and forms a greenish layer of copper carbonate or copper sulfate on its surface.
Here’s how it happens:
Exposure to moisture
The first step in the rusting process is exposure to moisture. This can come from exposure to rain, snow, or even just humidity in the air.
Formation of iron oxide
When iron (which is present in most car bodies) exposes to moisture, it begins to react with oxygen in the air. This reaction forms iron oxide (rust).
Spread of rust
Once rust begins to form, it can spread quickly if you ignore it. Iron oxide can penetrate the surface of a metal, weakening it and causing it to become more susceptible to further corrosion.
Other factors that can contribute to rust formation on a car surface include exposure to road salt. The presence of salt particles on the road accelerates the rusting process. Not only that, exposure to chemicals and pollutants in the air can also do the same.
To prevent rust formation on a car surface, it is important to wash and wax the car regularly. This helps to protect the paint and underlying metal from moisture and other elements.
This is another situation where you can use WD-40 to protect the surfaces from rust. The lubricant allows you to displace moisture and create a barrier against rust-causing agents.
Additionally, storing the car in a garage or covered area can help to protect it from rusting. It can also help to reduce the risk of iron oxide formation. That said, do all cars rust eventually? Read to find out!
4. To remove adhesives
If you have old bumper stickers, decals, or another adhesive residue on your car, you can use WD-40 to dissolve the adhesive and make it easier to remove.
To do this, spray WD-40 on the adhesive; let it sit for a few minutes; and then wipe it off with a clean cloth.
5. Whenever You Need To clean and shine the chrome surfaces of your car
If your car has chrome trim or wheels, you can use WD-40 to clean and shine these surfaces. How? So simple.
- Spray the cleaning lubricant onto a clean cloth.
- Then wipe the chrome surface to remove dirt, grime and restore its shine.
Now that we’ve covered when to use WD-40 on cars, let’s answer 14 important questions about this action.
Is WD40 Good for Car Locks?
Yes, you can use WD-40 to lubricate car locks and help them work smoothly. Over time, the components of a car lock can become stiff and difficult to operate, especially in cold weather. In this case, you can use WD-40 to lubricate the lock’s components and prevent them from sticking or freezing.
- To use the cleaning lubricant on your car lock, simply insert the key into the lock and spray a small amount of WD-40 directly into the keyhole.
- Then, turn the key back and forth a few times to work the lubricant into the lock’s components.
If the lock is particularly stiff or difficult to turn, you may need to repeat this process a few times.
It’s important to note that while you can use WD-40 to lubricate car locks, you shouldn’t rely overly on it. This is because the cleaning solution can attract dust and dirt over time, and it can actually make the lock to become even more stiff and difficult to operate.
To maintain the health of your car locks, it’s a good idea to use a dedicated lock lubricant or graphite powder. Unlike WD-40, these are designed to provide long-lasting lubrication without attracting dirt and debris.
Is WD40 Good for Preventing Rust on Cars?
Yes, you can use WD-40 to prevent rust on cars. This cleaning lubricant is particularly designed to displace moisture and protect metal surfaces from corrosion. It is, therefore, effective in preventing rust from forming on your car’s metal surfaces.
To use WD-40 to prevent rust on your car, you can spray it onto any metal surface that is susceptible to rusting. This includes the undercarriage, wheel wells, and exposed metal components like hinges and latches.
Be sure to clean the surface thoroughly before applying the cleaning solution to remove any dirt or debris that could interfere with its protective ability against rust.
It’s important to note that while WD-40 can help prevent rust on your car, it’s not a permanent solution. Over time, the protective layer of the cleaning agent will wear off, leaving the metal surface vulnerable to rust again.
To ensure long-lasting protection against rust, it’s important to keep your car clean and well-maintained. It’s equally important to apply a rust-inhibiting paint or coating to any exposed metal surfaces.
Make sure you read to learn about where cars rust most across U.S.
Can WD40 Remove Spray Paint on a Car?
WD-40 is not specifically designed for removing spray paint from a car’s surface. Still, it can be effective in removing small areas of spray paint that have accidentally ended up on the car’s surface.
However, note that if the spray paint has been on the car for a long time or has been applied in a thick layer, the lubricant may not be effective in removing it completely.
To apply WD-40 on spray paint from a car, follow these steps:
- Clean the affected area with soap and water to remove any dirt or debris.
- Spray a small amount of WD-40 directly onto the spray paint.
- Let the lubricant settle on the spray paint for a few minutes.
- Use a soft cloth or a plastic scraper to gently rub the spray paint away. Be sure to use a light touch and avoid applying too much pressure, as this can damage the car’s finish.
Repeat the process until you’ve completely removed the spray paint.
After removing the spray paint, be sure to clean the area thoroughly with soap and water to remove any remaining WD-40. It’s also a good idea to apply a coat of wax or polish to the area to protect the car’s finish.
Can WD40 Remove Bugs on a Car?
Yes, you can use WD-40 to remove bugs from a car’s surface. Bugs can be difficult to remove from a car’s paint, and if left for too long, they can actually damage the finish.
Well, WD-40 can help dissolve the bug residue and make it easier to wipe away.
Follow these steps to use WD-40 to remove bugs from a car:
- Spray a small amount of the lubricant directly onto the bug residue.
- Let it settle on the residue for a few minutes. This will help dissolve the bugs and make them easier to remove.
- Use a soft sponge or microfiber towel to gently wipe away the bug residue.
- Repeat the process until all the bugs are off.
- After removing the bugs, be sure to wash the car with soap and water to remove any remaining WD-40 formula.
It’s important to note that while this cleaning lubricant can be effective in removing bugs from a car, it should be used with caution. In this regard, be sure to test it on a small, inconspicuous area first to make sure it doesn’t damage the car’s finish.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to apply a coat of wax or polish to the car’s surface after removing the bugs to protect the finish.
Can WD40 Remove Tar (asphalt) on a Car?
WD-40 can be effective in removing tar and asphalt from a car’s surface. Truly, tar and asphalt can be difficult to remove from a car, and if left for too long, they can cause damage to the finish.
However, due to its versatility, WD-40 can also help dissolve the tar and make it easier to wipe away. Below are steps you can follow to clear tars off your car with WD-40:
- Spray a small amount of the lubricant directly onto the tar or asphalt.
- Let it settle for a few minutes. This will help dissolve the tar and make it easier to remove.
- Use a soft sponge or microfiber towel to gently wipe away the tar. Be sure to use a light touch and avoid applying too much pressure, as this can damage the car’s finish.
- Repeat the process until all the tar or asphalt goes off.
- After removing the tar or asphalt, be sure to wash the car with soap and water to remove any remaining WD-40 solution.
Remember the caution we gave about the use of this cleaning lubricant on your vehicle earlier? It’s important to respect it in this regard as well.
Is WD40 Good for Car Scratches?
WD-40 is primarily designed as a lubricant and penetrating oil. While it can help to protect against rust and corrosion, it is not formulated for use as a scratch remover.
Still, you can apply the lubricant on scuff marks to remove them off your vehicle. All you need is to scrub the affected areas with WD-40, using a soft sponge.
If you are looking to remove scratches from your car’s surface, there are other products that are specifically designed for this purpose. For example, there are scratch removers and polishes that can help to buff out minor scratches and restore the car’s finish.
Mind you, you can’t remove all scratches with a scratch remover or polish. Deep scratches that penetrate the clear coat and reach the base layer of paint may require more extensive repairs, such as repainting or touch-up paint.
If you’re unsure about how to remove a scratch from your car, it’s always a good idea to consult with a professional auto body shop or detailing service for advice.
Is WD40 Good for Car Battery Terminals?
WD-40 is also effective in cleaning and protecting car battery terminals. Over time, battery terminals can become corroded or dirty, and this can interfere with the flow of electricity and cause problems with the car’s electrical system.
In this case, you may want to use the cleaning lubricant to clean and protect your car battery terminals.
First, disconnect the battery cables from the battery terminals. This is important to prevent any electrical shocks or other hazards.
Use a wire brush or battery terminal cleaner to remove any corrosion or dirt from the battery terminals. Be sure to wear gloves and eye protection during this step.
Once the terminals are clean, spray a small amount of WD-40 onto the terminals. This will help to prevent future corrosion and protect the terminals from the elements.
Reconnect the battery cables to the terminals, making sure to tighten them securely.
Mind you, it’s a good idea to regularly inspect your car’s battery terminals for signs of corrosion or damage, and to replace the battery if it is old or not holding a charge.
Is WD40 Good for Car Windows?
As noted by WD-40, you can use the lubricant to remove gunk and grease from windows. Mind you, WD-40 is not specifically designed for this purpose and may not be the best choice for all situations.
If you are looking to clean your car’s windows, there are other products that are specifically designed for this purpose. Glass cleaners, for example, are formulated to dissolve and remove dirt and grime without leaving streaks or residue behind.
It’s also important to note that using the wrong type of cleaner or cloth on car windows can cause damage or scratches.
For best results, use a soft, lint-free cloth or microfiber towel, and be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for any cleaning products you use.
Is WD40 Good for Car Tires?
While you can use WD-40 to restore the shine of your wheel, the lubricant is not appropriate for use on car tires. In fact, using WD-40 on car tires can actually be harmful.
This is because the oil-based formula can cause the rubber to degrade and weaken over time, leading to cracks, dry rot, and other types of damage.
Moreover, any oil or grease that gets onto the tire tread can affect the tire’s grip and handling, which can be dangerous while driving.
For best and safe results, you can use other products that are specifically designed for this purpose. Tire shine products, for example, can help to restore the tire’s appearance and protect against UV damage. Also, tire dressings can help to prevent dry rot and cracking.
Note, however, that proper tire maintenance goes beyond just applying cleaning or shining products.
It’s important to regularly check your tire pressure, inspect for any signs of damage or wear, and rotate your tires as recommended by the manufacturer to ensure maximum performance and safety on the road.
Make sure you read about 8 things to look out for when choosing good car tires.
Is WD40 Good for Car Door Hinges?
You can also use WD-40 to lubricate car door hinges. Of course, car door hinges can become stiff or squeaky over time due to dirt and grime buildup or lack of lubrication.
To restore their efficiency, WD-40 can help to dissolve and remove this buildup, as well as provide long-lasting lubrication to keep the hinges operating smoothly.
Follow these steps to use WD-40 on car door hinges:
- Locate the door hinges on your car. You’ll probably find them near the door frame and the edge of the door.
- Spray a small amount of WD-40 onto the hinges. Ensure you aim the spray nozzle directly at the hinge pins to achieve proper lubrication.
- Move the door back and forth a few times to help work the WD-40 into the hinges.
- Then, wipe away any excess lubricant with a clean cloth.
Mind you, it’s important to always replace any worn or damaged hinges when necessary. Don’t make the mistake of equating WD-40 for proper maintenance.
Is WD40 Good for Car Brakes?
We do not recommend using WD-40 on car brakes. This is because the lubricant can actually be dangerous, as it can compromise the effectiveness of the brakes.
Note that the lubricant can contaminate the brake pads and rotors, reducing the friction and causing the brakes to become less effective. It can even lead to longer stopping distances, reduced control, and other safety issues while driving.
Rather than using WD-40 on your brakes, you can use other products, like the brake cleaner, that are specifically designed for this purpose.
Brake cleaner, for example, is formulated to dissolve and remove brake dust, dirt, and other contaminants without leaving any residue behind.
Is WD40 Good for the Car Belt?
No, WD-40 is not good for use on car belts. When used on car belts, it can lead to cracks, dry rot, and other types of damage.
This is because the chemical solution in the lubricant can make the rubber to degrade and weaken over time. Besides, any oil or grease that gets onto a car belt can affect its performance and cause slipping, which can lead to premature wear and failure.