Cleaning Alloy Wheels: The Right Way

cleaning alloy wheelsIf you have a nice new shiny set of wheels, or you’ve just paid out for a full refurbishment, you will want to keep them in pristine condition for as long as possible with the minimum of fuss. There are a multitude of threats to alloy wheels on the road – brake dust and road grime and stone chips being the worst.

This brief guide will show you how to take the best care of your wheels, how to remove accumulated brake dust and how to clean and protect your alloys from corrosion using easily available tools and consumables.

Alloy Wheel Cleaning Guide

The first step if at all possible, is to remove the wheels from the car. Whilst this may seem over the top or too much hassle it is by far the best way to clean the whole of the wheel. If you only ever wash the front face of your alloys they may well look great for a period of time however the damage caused to the underside of the wheels by brake dust and general road debris will eventually cause the sealed inside paint to fail and corrode and this will rapidly make its way to the front face of the wheels.

Removing the wheels is fairly straightforward as long as you have a jack and stands to leave the car on. These are relatively inexpensive items when you compare it to the cost of replacing or refurbishing a set of wheels.

Be careful not to drop the wheels on to the front face when placing them on the ground or on a couple of pieces of timber to raise them slightly.

microfibre mittThe first cleaning step is to use a garden hose or pressure washer to remove any loose debris and surface contaminants. Once this is done move on to the main washing of the wheels: use a microfibre wash mitt and a two bucket system. The first bucket contains warm water and either a mild wheel cleaner or any type of all purpose household cleaner, the second bucket should be clean warm water to rinse the mitt off each time. Do not use the harsh chemical cleaners on your wheels – these are generally just an acid based solvent that will attack the surface of youer wheels over time.

Remove as much dirt and grime as you can using the mitt, getting into all of the nooks and crannies – if necessary use a soft wheel brush to get into hard to reach places. Next rinse of the wheels with the hose or washer and thoroughly dry them with a microfibre towel.

At this stage you should inspect the wheels to see how much residue is still left there. If there is room to use a clay bar and a lubricant then this is the best way to continue but the intricacies of modern wheels often means that your only option here is to move on to a chemical cleaner that also contains a paint sealant – these are available from any good motor factor.

shiny wheelUsing the mitt apply the cleaner and then buff off with the microfibre towel until all of the remaining residue has gone. Then it is time to move on to the protective layer. Use a wheel sealant product and apply two or three coats allowing each one to dry off and buffing between applications. The final step on the actual wheels is to apply a water based tyre dressing, usually it comes as a foam applicator and will nourish and protect your tyres. Once dried your alloys and tyres should be looking great.

Before replacing your alloys take the time to wash out the wheel arches to remove the dirt, grime and brake dust that is just waiting to drop on your newly mint wheels. Use the pressure washer, a strong degreaser and a final rinse and then replace the four wheels.

Finally, take all your tools and towels and clean them thoroughly so they are ready for the next time. Thanks for reading.