How should engine mating surfaces be cleaned before applying RTV sealant? Here is an example of a timing chain cover for a 1GR-FE Toyota V6 engine.

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Due to its meandering shape, it does not use a gasket but RTV sealant AKA "gasket maker". I cleaned it really well with a plastic as well as metal razor, and then cleaned residue with Seafoam as well as rubbing alcohol, using both Scotch Brite and paper towel. Any reasons not to use any of those supplies?

  • There are also RTV primers available that 'enhance bonding'. I don't know if this would be appropriate for your application though...
    – BobT
    Dec 18, 2021 at 18:51

2 Answers 2


You can use a metal razor to do the work, but use it perpendicular to the work. You still need to be careful with it on aluminum because it will cut into it if you're not careful. Using it perpendicular to your work surface allows you to scrape the gasket off without cutting into the metal as you very easily will at an angle. Doing it any other way, even for a practiced hand, is surely a good way to ruin the mating surface, even if you're uber careful (ask me how I know).

A plastic razor (gasket removal tool) works okay and won't mar the aluminum surface. It won't work nearly as well as a metal blade, but it is a lot safer on the mating surface.

Do not use Scotch Brite pads on aluminum. It WILL cut into the metal. Scotch Brite works wonders on cast iron without the fear of causing issues, but can easily cut into aluminum.

To clean it, the best thing to use is acetone. If that's not available, IPA or brake/carb cleaner would be good. Even WD-40 is a good cleaner (that's what it was originally designed to be), however, you'd want to ensure you get it fully cleaned off of the mating surface as it may interfere with your new layer of sealant. I'm sure Seafoam would work just fine, but it seems like an expensive way to go for a surface cleaner.

EDIT: One other thing, if you have fingernails, use them to see if your work surface is actually clean. The tip of your fingernail can tell you if what you're seeing is leftover gasket or is just a stain on the metal you don't need to worry about. Looks can be very deceiving. Your fingernail will tell you where the truth lies.

  • but how about alcohol?
    – amphibient
    Dec 16, 2021 at 16:32
  • 1
    @amphibient - IPA = Isopropyl Alcohol Dec 16, 2021 at 17:26

I would be very careful with the metal razor as adding scratches can cause problems.

Then re-polishing the surface so it is flat needs a large flat area...

  • A steel razor blade cuts into an Aluminum casting very easily. I've found a good choice is a plastic scraper. An old credit card works well in most cases. You can scrape the heck out of it and the plastic will not damage the Aluminum.
    – jwh20
    Dec 16, 2021 at 12:57
  • @jwh20 yes, but having had a lot of practice I use a razor blade holder and one can be very gentle...
    – Solar Mike
    Dec 16, 2021 at 13:29

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