WD-40 Good or bad? Are there real facts?
In our local forum, the question of WD-40 as a bike chain lubricant rises again and again.
I have checked the MTBR forums seen many threads emphasizing the fact that WD-40 should NOT be used as a lubricant. Also, there are opinions about the danger of the WD-40 attacking plastic parts in a continuous use...
As here on MTBR we get the same opinions on our forum and people oppose the usage of the WD-40.
There are always the few people saying they used it for years for bike chain lubrication. They support this by linking to the WD-40 site:
What about using WD-40 on my sports equipment?
WD-40 is safe and effective to use on all types of sporting goods. Use WD-40 on your bike to clean, degrease and lubricate your chain, derailleur, gears, cogs, and moving parts. It will help remove stickers. Use WD-40 to clean and protect your gun. It will prevent corrosion and it won't damage bluing. Spray it on dirt bikes to protect parts and prevent mud from sticking. Use it on watercraft to protect metal surfaces from corrosion and to drive out moisture. WD-40 is also great for cleaning golf clubs and preventing rust on hockey skate blades.
This is from here.
They also mention it cannot harm anything (specifically plastic parts).
What's the truth? Can anyone supply real evidence? Maybe we have been denying the usage of WD-40 as a lube just because people before us claimed it cannot be used for that.
Any solid facts?
I use WD40 to clean with, blast out bearings, clean out cable housing, etc. I have never had it dissolve any plastic. I don't expect it to lube though, unless by lube you mean less friction from less grime. But then again I don't think TriFlow is much of a lube either which some people swear by.
A good lube feels like a good lube. Try rubbing some WD-40 between your fingers, then do the same with some Boeshield. Try the same test with Phil's grease. WD-40 is good for cleanup, maybe lubing hinges in the house, but for my bikes I'll stick with something that FEELS like lube.
I've used wd-40 for years on my old cinder cone. I may have subscribed to the crap about it not being a good lube until I spent a bunch of years farming and ranching. That stuff is a godsend....if it's good enough for a 8 wheel johnny popper, it's good enough for a little old bike.
I keep a can under the front seat of my truck and hose the drivetrain prior to most big rides. Works fantastic for cleaning crap off...Friends that use other lubes have more problems with chains sticking...I never have...3 chains in 10 years, 1 new derailleur (1 chain and derailleur replaced due to trauma)...last summer 1554 dirt specific miles on my old cinder cone...wd 40 only.
Works for me
Worked fine on my old bike
WD-40 was the only lube I used on my old bike. Worked fine, and I never had any problems. The bike is 12 years old and is still going....
On my new bike, I started using finish line lube. In my opinion, this stuff seems to not lose its lube as quicly as wd-40. It seemed like wd-40 would last about one ride. As noted above, its a great cleaner - perhaps better than the finish line bio-degreaser I've been using.
You'll find more opinions on lubricants than you will on any other aspect of bike riding. I'm in the "I used it for years and it worked just fine camp." It is a very light lubricant so you do need to use it often. Never seen any damage to paint or plastic.
Though, I must admit, I now use homebrew (3 or 4 parts mineral spirits to one part motor oil) with good results. I've even seen some people advise not to rub down the chain because it pushes the dirt into the rollers. I guess they don't mind very dirty chains.
If you don't mind spraying your drivetrain before every ride, it'll probably work pretty well, but I'm not willing to do that. The "wd" stands for "water displacement" or "water displacer" and it's designed to do just that, displace water. It also has a very light lube that would require frequent and copious application if you want to use to it lube your drivetrain. Aren't there books about wd40? I was flipping channels the other day and caught a few minutes of some jackazzes dressed in duct tape with cans of wd40 velcroed to their lapels saying things like "I thought the only thing I needed in my toolbox was duct tape, but then the toolbox got rusty and that's when I discovered I needed wd40, too!" on that show with Cliff from Cheers driving around the country and visiting bits of Americana, and they apparently authored a book on half of their extensive and according to them fully comprehensive tool kit.
Originally Posted by akitadogg
It was the 40th formula the chemist tried..thus wd-40. ALL petroleum products repel water..by their nature they are hydrophobic...nonpolar...water is a polar molecule.
No i dont mind spraying before every ride...it takes about 5 seconds. The bike is also a daily commuter through winter and all that jazz.
Wd-40 works awesome for many things...try operating a farm or ranch sometime without wd40. Also, my time in the elements might be a wee bit of supporting evidence in favor of miracle juice. I ain't one of them california boys or of their ilk, lol.
WD-40 works well for cleaning because its a solvent. Solvents are not good for lubrication since they tend to evaporate. It contains none of the wear protectors that a good chain lube contains.
I think WD-40 is very good to displace water from some components after you clean your bike, but I've never looked at it as a chain lube. I just don't have any tech arguments here.
the only argument's i have against would be that it eveporates off after a while, and that it is so "thin" it provides little cushion between the metal parts as they rub...as compared to a "thicker" or more viscous lube...
but i only use it after i degrease my chain to get the water off, i then wipe as much off as possible then let it set till my next ride and lube it before i ride...
the thing to remember is
That all liquids will lubricate. Water is a lubricant......to some level anyway. A solvent is a lubricant too, until it all evaporates and serves no purpose. Grease is also a lubricant and it won't disperse as easily as a more liquid product. That's why bearing grease is as thick as snot. On the other hand, the thicker the lubricant the more friction and drag that will be present between the moving parts. There's a fine line between what's too thick and what's too thin.
WD-40 will lubricate. it just won't necessarily last very long. if it works for you, use it. it won't casue harm that's for certain. It just may not last as long as other products on the market.
I use it as a solvent when I'm working on parts that are coated with gunk or as a solvent to attack some rusty parts. I used to use it as a chain lube when I was a kid but I haven't used it for that in years.
It's been my experience that WD-40 is a great cleaner and a good lube on low friction parts. As for the chain, I'd rather use a chain specific lube. On my motorcycles I use a product called chain wax, but I doubt it would work very well on MTB chains.
for spraying into your carberator.
And cleaning stuff. I think it can remove gum from your hair.
WD40 is about as good a lubricant as simple green is a degreaser. Simple green is not a "degreaser", it simply breaks down oil and dirt because it is a detergent just like soap, there's nothing special about it and compared to "real" degreasers that you use in parts cleaners and get in auto stores, it's crap. So WD40 might have some lubricaiton properties, but that doesn't mean it makes a good lubricant for your chain, and I've seen the effects of it firsthand. Yes, it will ruin the chain/drivechain. People that say they use wd40 always bring in a rust and dry drivetrain that is just terrible. WD40 doesn't have any saying power, it doesn't bond to the chain, it just dissapears rather quickly.
I guess my question would be, "What's the appeal of using WD-40 as a lubricant in the first place?" Is it just because it's what most people have sitting around the house? It's not that much cheaper than bike-specific lubes is it? It's not any more convenient to use. My little bottle of TriFlow with the tiny applicator straw has lasted forever and it cost me $3.99. The applicator tip makes it easy to gets small amounts of lube right where you need it without waste or mess.
What the heck is an 8-wheel johnny popper?
Originally Posted by akitadogg
I too, am interested in this strange and wonderful device. I think I may have seen Ron Popeil making juice with one in an infomercial at 2:00 in the morning.
WD 40 is not chain lube
WD 40 is light duty lube to loosen seized metal parts. It is no substitute for tri flow lube. WD 40 can't be used in places where there is continued friction between metal parts including shifting cables. It has low boiling point. In other words, it looses its lubrication ability once the heat of the friction reach the maximum heating point of that lube.
Tri flow is heavier duty lube intended for shifting cables. Its boiling point is much higher than WD40.
WD 41 is better
cures cancer, enlarges breasts and d!cks, turns $20 bills into $100 and more. never mind what the label says, it works, trust me! Order a case today. But wait there's more....
johnny poppers and wd40
8 wheel Johnny popper is farmer talk for a big tractor (john deere, big bud, etc) - not referring to the little tractors with only 2 big wheels and 2 small.
WD40 may not be viscous and long lasting, but I believe in a little preventative soaking prior to a good ride.
Also I'm liberal with hosing down all moving parts more or less with the stuff. I am not talking dropwise application like with a tri - flo bottle!
Reasons I use WD40:
2. Easy to saturate stuff (spray)
3. My drivetrain is always clean and shifts smoothly
4. Long ago I ran out of bike specific lube, I used wd and never looked back
For those of you wanting heavier weight oil..use 10w-30 or 10w-40, or 30 weight oil..also cheap and easy. ( I find heavier lubes attract more dirt).
A good squirt from a water bottle also does the trick for about 5 minutes if stuck in the backcountry ( one of my friend's favorite techniques before I took it on myself to spray his bike with the wd-40 I keep under my truck seat).
WD-40 is primarily a solvent for cleaning that leaves a film of lubricant. Works best on things that need to have a substance dissolved from a metallic surface and a thin layer of a friction reducing substance that will not attract dirt behind. It works very well on an automatic weapon like an M-16. Dissolves residual gunpowder and dirt and leaves a thin layer of lube so the rifle don't slip out of your hands or clog the works. Perfect. Since you clean the weapon daily, there is no need for a heavy lube that will stay there forever.
For my bike, I prefer White Lightning when it's dry, Tri-Flow when it's wet. I believe both of those contain suspended Teflon.
By the way, the WD-40 company is based here in San Diego.
When i go to my trail head in my area (dirt),after a ride, i can tell the fast riders from the slow riders
because the fast riders will have dirt kicked up on their legs. The slow legs will be clean .
If you are of the slow variety, the wd-40 might be ok.
If you are fast, than do not use wd-40.
Wd-40 is garanteed to attract dirt. And will gunk up your drivetrain like no other.
If you ride on the street or slow on the dirt, than great, no problem.
Here is an experiment for you- spray only one pedal with wd-40 before your dirt ride.
see what happens.
I suppose if you've had luck with it then go with whatever makes you happy. For me, I avoid the overspray of WD40 for a couple of reasons.
One is the mess - I don't want an oily film all over the parts of my bike that don't require it. Reason two - WD40 is thin enough to seep into the crevices of your hubs, bottom bracket, etc. It will find its way inside and break down the heavier lubes that are meant to stay viscous and prevent the high friction loads. If your hitting your chainwheel and cassette area with this stuff, I guarantee it's bound to happen sooner or later. Many people above have mentioned that it breaks apart frozen seals and cleans out old and unwanted grease. This is fine unless you want your seals to stay intact and your bearing grease needs to retain its integrity.
P.S. - This is also why I wont use two different lubes on top of each other without thoroughly cleaning out the first one. Different types of lubes will tend to break each other down. Next time you get oily chainwheel marks on the back of your calf go fold up a paper towel and dab some vegetable oil on it. The marks will rub right off with the vegetable oil like it was nothin'. It's the same principle.
My definitive answer. Well, I guess its still opinion somewhat but heregoes.. WD40 is a very light penetrating lube. Yes, it is a lube but moreso its full of solvent. The solvent dries very fast leaving almost nothing behind. Its best uses are to clean heavily greased parts and loosen seized parts like a seized bolt. Its also good for getting rid of moisture.. Like if your cleaning out the internals of a hub WD40 will clean out grease, but it will also displace water in doing so. (WD = water displacement.)
You might get some use out of it as a bike chain lube, but its sort of a crappy one at best. If you don't reuse it often your chain will rust very quickly. But if you reapply often it propbably won't be an issue. ..but the quality of it as a lube is still pretty bad.
In a book I have there's a section on bike maintenance that says to spray your chain with wd40 after you wash your bike. I guess by sparying the chain with wd40, it gets all the water out. I like to use T9, it's made in my home town and works pretty gosh darn good.. ;)
if you guys think wd is good stuff, try PBlaster. Its basically WD-40 on steriods. We use it a lot when restoring old cars. I'm suprised no one has mention this stuff yet. It makes WD look like childs play
But on that note, i don't use either as a chain lube. I prefer white lightning. Works well and is highly flammable, so if i'm ever in need of a fire starter and don't have kindling around just drip on some lightning :)
Originally Posted by JimC.
Sounds a lot like the spam mail I get....
"Apply to wonder cream to afflicted appendage and rub vigerously..."
Uh.... if I apply applesauce and rub vigorously it's going to enlarge. ;)
Sorry, had to go there.
Simple Green can clean anything.... except Babies.
Don't say stuff like that. You make me question the flatness of the world.
The formula for a complete repair kit "If if moves and shouldn't use duct tape, if it doesn't move and should use WD-40". :)
WD40 is just fine ...
... for up to 1/2 hour bike path rides.
Use a dry wax, White Lightning or Pedro's Ice for dry conditions. Or a heavier oil base if you ride in the rain and mud.
For longer rides, like over 3 hours duration, bring some chain oil with you and relube during the ride for best shifting.
WD40 is Crack
You Engineer types can probably answer this, but I think the manufacture adds a smelling agent. It's addictive!
According to their website these are the recommended uses for a bike
Protect bike frames from saltwater corrosion
Clean swing arms on dirt bikes
Shine bike tires
Lubricate gear sprockets and derailleurs on mountain bikes
Prevent rust on bike scratches
Clean and protect adjusting screws on bicycle seats
Clean chrome bicycle frames
Degrease bicycle chains
Lubricate bicycle U-locks
Drive moisture from wet bicycle chains and gear shifting cables
Remove unwanted decals from bicycle frames
Loosen swivels on bicycle handlebars
Prevent rust on bicycle spokes, brake threads and brake cables
Stop squeaks on bicycle seat coils and posts
You don't see them recommending it as a "Chain Lube"
Oh and they say the ingredients are "secret".
Full disclosure....I keep WD40 in my toolbox and use it when I need a fix.
Originally Posted by aFish
Here is some data from the Navy comparing the how well different CPCs (Corrosion Prevention Compounds) work. No data on lubrication properties. You can see that WD-40 is a decent water displacer and it helps control exfoliation on certain grades of aluminium. It's not great at slowing corrosion on steel or aluminium but it is not the worst either.
SS = Salt Spray
SSSA = Sulfuric Acid Salt Spray (designed to better simulate conditions around the fleet)
Shorter Bars are better.
Link to Data
Here is same data showing Boeshield. It is a bit different in that it dries to a thin soft film. Again, only showing corosion data not lubrication. It is interesting that Boeshield is a better water displacer than WD-40 and provides about the same level of corrosion protection.
Link to Data
what you need...
...is Jig-A-Loo AHAHAHA!!! (makes sense if you watch Canadian TV)
seriously, I only use the '40 to make my bike shine.
I have found the above mentioned Jig-a-Loo to be a good water displacer for my cables/derailleur, it's supposedly safe to use around grease, but I have my doubts so I make sure to spray smart. However, I think it's a Canada only product, I know it's made up here).
For chain lube I use a product called Fluid Film, goes on heavier since it contains a light wax which also means almost no over spray. Mud and water DO NOT stick to this stuff, but I found after a few wet rides (most rides are wet in swampy deep south Ontario) it can start to wash away. It's also all natural/food safe, which is cool.
For fun/profit you can always take a couple blobs of grease on some cardboard spray with your favorite lube and see what happens....
WD-40 is a great solvent for dissolving the crapped-out, gummed-up lube left behind by the previous treatment of WD-40!
Like ChipAllen wrote, a drip application of Tri-Flow ends up being cheaper, cleaner and longer lasting.
The propellent used to pressurize the can of WD-40 is nothing more than propane. That's why it penetrates well, and evaporates quickly. And makes a great flamethrower.
Hey, watch this!
My dad always said, "some oil is better than no oil". I think the same holds true with chain lube. Cleaning and lubing your chain regularly with *almost anything* is better than neglecting it. I use Tri Flow to clean my chain, and Finish line dry lube after that. I also replace my chain once a year so that the rear cassette doesn't get worn from a stretched chain. I haven't had a problem with my drivetrain in years. If I was using only WD-40, I'd probably say the same thing.
Sure, running WD 40 on your chain is better than running it dry by far. That said it can get the job done to a certain degree but its nowhere near as good as a proper chain lube. It evaporates too quickly and requires constant reaplication. A good thicker lube that stays put and cushions the metal on metal contact will perform significantly better.
It can be quite problematic for disc brakes too if you keep spraying it on your chain. The mist and overspray from its blast seems to always find its way onto the rotors. Not a very good thing... I use WD40 on my pedals and cleats just before a ride to keep dirt from sticking and the jaws and hinges clean. Even then I have to be carefull it doesn't end where I don't want it.
A quick blast with WD40 before degreasing, and all the crud comes off. Then use proper lube.
finish line cross country for wet
teflon plus for dry.
that's what i keep coming back to.
WD40 makes a decent cleaner.
PB blaster is where it's at for loosening stuff, smells like crap though.