Wheels made from aluminum and aluminum alloys are popular because they are lighter and stronger than steel in most cases, but no type of wheel is immune to the effects of general wear and tear. That includes brake dust, which can cause wheels to become pitted and corroded over time if they are not properly cleaned. However, cleaning alloy wheels involves more than a quick application of soap and water.
Step-by-Step Guide on How to Clean Aluminum Rims and Wheels to Keep Them Looking Good and in the Best Condition:
- Rinse: Give your wheels an initial rinse with a strong blast of water, being sure to get into all of the crevices and tight spots to wash away any loose brake dust and grit that has accumulated.
- Clean: Spray your wheels — one at a time — with a specially formulated alloy wheel cleaner. The best aluminum wheel cleaners are non-acidic because acid can damage the relatively soft metal if left on too long. If your wheels are clear-coated, choose a cleaner specifically made for clear-coated wheels. Do not allow wheel cleaners to dry on the wheels, because it will damage the finish.
- Scrub: Using a soft-bristled brush, scrub the surface of your wheel. Be careful not to use too much force or use a stiff brush, because these may scratch the aluminum. Using a special lug nut brush will help clean brake dust that is under lug nuts.
- Rinse: Spray the wheel with another strong stream of water, making sure to rinse the lug nut holes and between any spokes.
- Dry: Use The Absorber to dry the wheel and prevent spotting. The Absorber’s Poly Vinyl Alcohol material and sponge-like pore structure give it superior drying ability over terrycloth towels and leather chamois. The flexibility of the towel allows it to be easily maneuvered between the wheel spokes. It is available in multiple colors so you can designate one specifically for use on your wheels.
- Polish: Apply an aluminum rim polish specifically formulated for either bare aluminum wheels or clear-coated wheels, depending on what you have on your car. The best way to polish aluminum wheels is with our Buffing Balls. (link to website) The Italian viscose fibers are safe to use on your rims at speeds of up to 2,500 RPM and they won’t tear or cake up like foam buffers.
- Wax: Applying wax to the surface of your wheels will help them resist dirt and look shiny longer. Wax will protect your rims from the harsh elements that can damage your aluminum alloy.
- Maintenance: The Glosser microfiber detailing wipes contain 3 layers of cleaners and wax, allowing you to wax your wheels with one wipe. These detailing cloths will help prolong the life of your wax in between the deep cleanings.
Knowing how to clean your alloy rims will keep them looking better for longer and protect them against brake dust and the elements. Having the right tools from CleanTools can make this process a lot easier, so have a look around our site and find what you need.