What’s the Most Effective Carburetor Cleaner?

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If you’re giving your vehicle or piece of equipment full throttle and it’s not quite performing how it should, then you probably have too much build up in the components of your carburetor. Gunk and varnish causes decreased fuel efficiency, hindered acceleration, and can cause difficulty starting your engine. Every six months to one year you should clean your carburetor if you use your vehicle or machine regularly.

Getting it to be squeaky clean again is sometimes not easy. The gunk caught up in there can be a stubborn son of a gun without the right stuff to get it all off, so you ought to know the best approach before even removing your carburetor from your vehicle.

If you have talked to any auto mechanics, or car enthusiasts, you’ll find out that everyone seems to have their own trick that “works great every time.” You’re best to collect as many of these kinds of tips as you can and try all of them if you’re having trouble removing all of the varnish until you can get the darn thing clean again. Whatever method you end up using, nothing will likely work as good as a specifically designed carb cleaning product and a carb cleaning tool. It is highly recommended that you try that first.

Chlorinated Vs Non-Chlorinated

Chlorinated carb cleaner is more powerful and more effective but also more abrasive. For a really thorough cleaning, chlorine will probably do better. The acetone and methyl ethyl keytone in a non-chlorinated carburetor cleaner will do fine to get moderately difficult substances off though. For a more gentle cleaning that protects all of the components, non-chlorinated is the way to go. For most situations, either one should be fine.

Best Carburetor Cleaning Products on the Market

First off, you’ll need to get yourself at least one good cleaning product. Below are a few of your best options. You can get a good price on any of them from various online marketplaces. I’ve included direct links to each product’s info page.

Gumout 800002230 Carb and Choke Cleaner

Gumout 800002230 Carb and Choke Cleaner
Gumout is one of the most prominent varnish and gunk cleaners on the market. Pour a bit of this stuff into your carburetor and then take a wire brush to it and your vehicle ought to run a lot better. It’s one of the best-selling carb cleaner products on the internet and goes for around $12.

Gunk M4824 Carb-Medic Carburetor Choke and Valve Parts Cleaner

Gunk M4824 Carb-Medic Carburetor Choke and Valve Parts Cleaner
Gunk is another one of the best, top-selling, and most known options. It’s a strong chlorinated mixture that cuts deep to get your carburetor squeaky clean again. Unlike Gumout, Gunk requires the use of a straw that is included. This provides the advantage of accuracy when spraying, but can be less convenient. It’s on sale now for approximately $13.

Briggs & Stratton 100042 Carburetor or Choke Cleaner

Briggs & Stratton 100042 Carburetor or Choke Cleaner
Briggs & Stratton makes a really effective cleaning product. As a strong alternative to Gumout and Gunk, you’ll find this option just as easy to use, and it dissolves just the same. Depending on what you need to clean and its condition, this could prove to be a better buy for you. At just below $15, it’s quality choice either way.

Berryman (0117C) B-12 Chemtool Carburetor/Choke and Throttle Body Cleaner

Berryman (0117C) B-12 Chemtool Carburetor/Choke and Throttle Body Cleaner
This Berryman carb cleaner is cheap at only about $8. Just spray the aerosol can cleaner into your carb and it will do all of the toiling. At that price, you’d be hard pressed to get something that will work better than this.

Carburetor Cleaning Tools

A good carb cleaning tool can help you reach into areas that can’t be brushed or wiped and clear out any blockage manually. They include a variety of sizes, some of which are small enough to fit into the most narrow of holes. Here are the three top picks.

EFF-cientt®New pack of Carburetor Jet Cleaner Wire Set

EFF-cientt®New pack of Carburetor Jet Cleaner Wire Set
This 14-piece wire set folds up easily into its handle. Its steel parts can reach deep into tiny spaces and clean jets out to dramatically improve performance. It costs under $10 online and should last as long as you’ll ever need it.

K&L Carb Cleaner Wire Set

K&L Carb Cleaner Wire Set
This set has 10 knurled tools that scrape out and remove varnish and gunk effectively. It fits common hole sizes and jets well. The K&L carb cleaner is currently priced at about $9, and should be a good buy for working on almost any carburetor.

Iglobalbuy Carburetor Carbon Dirt Jet Remove Kit 10 Cleaning Needles

Iglobalbuy Carburetor Carbon Dirt Jet Remove Kit 10 Cleaning Needles
For motorcycles and smaller carburetors, this very inexpensive kit has all of the sizes you need. To reach into the tiny spaces of a small carb, this handy tool is ideal, and it’s also extremely cheap at only around $4.

How to Clean Carburetor

If you’ve never cleaned one yourself before, a step by step guide will do you good. Using one of the cleaning solutions and one of the tools above, you should be able to get your carburetor looking new again. Here’s what to do.

Before Starting

If you’re cleaning the carburetor on a vehicle or piece of equipment that you don’t use frequently, replace the fuel in your tank before using your freshly cleaned carburetor or else you could be getting it dirty again. Fuel breaks down if left to sit for long periods of time, so it is an essential step to make sure that your fuel is clean.

Also, you should obviously keep the manual for your vehicle handy at all times whenever working on it. If you lost it, you ought to order a replacement online for your specific make and model. You might also be able to find a digital copy. Have a camera handy as well to make it easier and faster to put everything back the way it goes. Video would be even better.

  • Remove the Carburetor from the Engine

Shut off the fuel valve on the fuel tank to prevent any from spilling out. Remove all hoses carefully as not to damage them. If they are already damaged or showing signs of wear like cracking, you should replace them while you’re at it. Take out the screw from the clamps that hold the carb in place and twist it to get it free. Twist the top cap of the throttle cable to completely disconnect your carburetor. Remove the throttle slide as well by separating it from the cable. Once that’s been taken off, you’re ready to begin the process of cleaning.

  • Detach the Float Bowl

Remove the float by unscrewing it and pulling it off. Carefully pull out the float pin with needle nose pliers if it doesn’t come out when you try to pull it apart. Be mindful of the gasket in between the float bowl and the rest of the carb. If it shows signs of wear, you should replace it.

  • Remove All of the Jets

The shape, size, and tool needed to remove the jets for different types of carburetors varies. You will probably need either a flathead or phillips head screwdriver, and you may or may not need to remove some splash plates as well. Each jet has a hole at the end to spray fuel out so that it can be mixed with air and vaporized. Be sure to clean each hole thoroughly once you begin.

  • Remove All Remaining Screws, Gaskets and O-Rings

The air screw and the idle screw will need to be removed from the side of the carburetor next. You can use a flat head screwdriver for both. If the choke is detachable as well remove that with a wrench and slide it out. As you go you should be removing all gaskets and O-rings. You should take apart and remove every part that you can to make sure you get the deepest clean possible.

  • Wear Gloves and Safety Goggles

Carb cleaner is obviously poisonous and is not good to come in contact with. Wear protective eyewear and gloves when cleaning your carb. Be careful not to get the cleaning product on anything else too or it might leave a permanent mark.

  • Use a Wire Brush and Carb Cleaning Tool

Steel wool or a wire brush should be used to scrape off any visible varnish or buildup on the inside of your carb and all of the parts. Try to get it as clean as possible by hand before applying the carb cleaner. Then use your handy cleaning tool to reach into the jets and all other hard to reach areas to get it as clean as possible without damaging it.

  • Spray in the Carb Cleaner

Attach the straw if necessary and then spray generously all around the inside of the carburetor and its parts. Spray it into each one of the jets and make sure to work it through the holes. Hold each one up to the light to see if you can see through the cleaned hole. Blowing air through it will clear out any residual gunk that might not have come off otherwise.

Wipe everything down as good as you can after cleaning. Compressed air will help a lot to clear away any debris.

  • Put it All Back Together and Reinstall

Be sure to refer to any pictures or video footage you took while taking it apart. Make sure that everything is lined up evenly when screwing it back together.

When you put back the air screw (the thinner screw), screw it in as far as it can go and then turn it back one and a half turns. This is to establish a baseline so that the engine can idle with the ideal tightness of this screw. You’ll need to readjust it by starting the car and finding the right balance for your car to idle.

The idle screw can be hand tight as long as it’s secure. It will also be adjusted later when you start your engine. Install the float and slide the float pin back into place. Make sure that the needle moves freely and doesn’t get stuck, if it does then it may need to be replaced.

Finally, after everything is put back together and your carb is fully installed, adjust the idle and air screws. To increase the idle, screw the idle screw in more. Loosen the air screw to give more air and tighten it to give less.

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