When you buy a new car, there is a good chance that it will come with some snazzy-looking alloy wheels. Although that’s good for a while, the narrow wheel arches can soon start to look grubby as dirt collects in their corners. Besides the dirt and grime thrown up by the road surface, alloy wheels can also collect brake dust that leaves brown streaks across the wheels, ruining their fresh appearance.
Fortunately, cleaning brake dust, mud, and discoloration from alloy wheels could be done quickly and easily by an alloy wheel refurbishment specialist or even at home using a few easy techniques and supplies. So, how do you keep your rims clean?
The best way to get your wheels clean is with an alloy wheel cleaner designed for this purpose. The chemicals in some cleaners are too harsh for the finish on your rims, so be sure to buy cleaning products made specifically for this purpose! Pay attention to the label and test it out on an inconspicuous spot first before using it all over your wheels.
Don’t just grab hold of those rims with your bare hands! Latex or rubber gloves will help protect your skin from the harsh chemicals that can be found in wheel cleaners. You don’t need to buy special gloves for this, ordinary disposable exam gloves work great! Of course, if you’re going to be cleaning your wheels every week or two, that could get kind of tedious.
The first step in keeping them clean and shiny is pressure washing or, in the case of a particularly nasty job, power washing. A power washer can blast off caked-on mud and grime that have built up over time, but you’ll want to be careful about the pressure you use. Using too much pressure will put scratches on the finish, so it’s best to start with a lower PSI at first and then increase it as needed.
The most important thing to know when choosing a cleaner for your wheels is which products work best with which types of rims. For example, you shouldn’t use dish soap on aluminum rims—it will strip away their protective coating! Instead, use a specialized wheel cleaner made for aluminum rims or even an all-purpose cleaner if you don’t have any on hand. If you have copper or graphite-coated rims, avoid using anything acidic because it can damage the coating; just use warm water and a soft cloth instead.
To properly clean your wheels, make sure to let the cleaner soak for at least 10 minutes. This is important because it allows the chemical reaction from the polish to penetrate the pores of the metal, making it able to eliminate any corrosion spots. Leaving it on for longer will only make it work better, so don’t feel the need to rush after putting it on. Make sure you use a polishing cloth for the best results.
Make sure that you rinse off the cleaner before it dries. Some cleaners may damage the finish if left on too long. At this stage, you can also use a polishing compound or polish to bring out a high-gloss shine. If any stubborn spots remain, try using Brasso, which is available in supermarkets and household goods stores. It will effectively remove tarnish from your wheels without damaging your alloy wheels’ surface finish.
To give an added layer of protection to your wheels, use a wheel wax. A wheel wax is a sealant that keeps the outer layer of the wheel from being damaged from everyday wear and tear. It provides an added barrier to scratches and dings, which helps keep your rims in good condition longer. You can use a wheel wax on both steel and alloy wheels.
By applying a thin coat of wheel wax once every two or three months, you can keep your wheels looking brand new for years on end. Most waxes will even last throughout the winter, so you won’t need to reapply until spring rolls around again!
Now you have all the basic knowledge to keep your alloy wheels clean and looking good. Simply perform a quick weekly inspection of your rims to make sure there are no cracks or damage and then clean them with some simple supplies. This will allow you to enjoy the shine and sparkle of your nice, new alloy wheels for a long time to come without having to drop a lot of money every month.