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Snap-on Parts Washer - Parts Cleaning Altar

Posted in Product Reviews on November 1, 2002
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Every successful project begins with clean components. Nuts, bolts, differentials, carburetors-it doesn't matter. To properly repair any mechanical assembly you must clean it thoroughly before assembling it. Sure, you can use cans of carb cleaner-we must have gone through more than 60 cans of the stuff to rebuild an automatic transmission and transfer case-but it's a mess and will never do as good or efficient a job as a real parts washer. The Snap-on machine shown here (PN PBD3222) has a useable tub area (secondary filter element removed) that measures 10x32x22 inches and will accommodate any transmission, cylinder head, or transfer case assembly any of us is likely to work on.

Why did we choose Snap-on? Well, for years we have been watching professional mechanics make their living using Snap-on brand tools. If it's good enough for the pros, it's good enough for us. But until recently if you wanted Snap-on tools you had to be a mechanic or flag down a local distributor in his delivery van at the corner gas station. Now with an Internet connection you have unlimited access to the entire Snap-on product line at We surfed the Snap-on site and checked out the 17 different parts washing machines offered. We'll never go back to cans of carb cleaner again!

Snap-on Parts Washer Specs

Part Number PBD3222
Cleaning Fluid Type Solvent based
(sold separately)
Filtration Two-stage-mud bucket and
sink-side fluid filtration
Reservoir Capacity 30 gallons
Output Pressure 50 psi
Pump Volume 300 gph
Inside Tub Dimensions 10x32x22 inches
Overall Dimensions 39x36x26
Retail Price $1,375

The primary advantage of a parts washer is that, unlike a single-use can of carb cleaner, it can recycle the cleaning solution to be used again and again. The secret to reusing the cleaning solution is effective filtration. Snap-on uses this 2x1-foot replaceable element "mud bucket" to filter crud from the cleaning solvent as it drains down into the 30-gallon tank. In a typical parts washer the floor of the reservoir piles up with sediment that must be scooped out. Here the mud bucket catches that guck and keeps it out of the pump.

This Snap-on parts washer also comes with a sink-side filtration element that is used to strip oil and grease from the cleaning solvent by cycling all the fluid in the tank through this absorbent filter. To use this replaceable secondary filter effectively you must close the valve on the solvent hose and redirect fluid flow through it. Commercial shops would close the lid on the machine and do this every night. We'll probably only have to do it once a month.

To circulate the cleaning solvent, Snap-on specs this 300-gph pump that draws solvent from the top third of the tank. This pump hangs from the bottom of the tub, and the power cord is routed through the rectangular flange when you assemble it. Behind the pump is the tub drain, and also visible in this photo is the foam seal that lines the tub-to-tank flange.

You can clean hundreds, if not thousands of parts in a parts washer like this one. Mild grit and grime will dissolve away with a quick rinse of solvent. Soaking a part under the constant stream of solvent can loosen stubborn accumulations. You'll be rewarded every time with a clean part that is ready to be assembled, prepped for paint, or welded on. Keep in mind that all parts-cleaning solvents are harsh to your skin so make sure to wear a quality pair of solvent-proof gloves and eye protection before diving into any cleaning project.

Our new parts washer needed just about 30 gallons of cleaning fluid to function properly, which ended up proving to be a challenge to get in California. This state has clamped down on airborne solvents and encourages water-based degreasers, but this parts cleaner requires a solvent with a flash point of 140 degrees F or more. We decided on using this parts-cleaning fluid from Napa (PN 6506). At $60 for a 5-gallon barrel here in Los Angeles you'd think this stuff was liquid gold! A cheaper option might have been 3 gallons of Gunk S-C super concentrated degreaser ($13 per gallon) and 27 gallons of kerosene or diesel fuel. If you can afford it, this Napa fluid works great and doesn't leave an oily film on parts like plan B might. Remember, all solvent-based cleaners are flammable, so use extreme caution, and keep the lid closed when not in use.



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