You have a nice set of wheel’s but they are covered in brake dust they just make the overall look of any vehicle look dirty un finished and just drab.

Taking care of your wheels is not a difficult task, as long as you do this on a regular basis, but left for a long time it can be a task to remove iron fall out, embedded brake dust and road grime, like tar and grit that sticks to the wheels as they become hot.

Removing brake dust as often as you can, will prolong the life span of your wheels and improve the overall look of your ride.

You need to need to make sure you spend a few minutes on each wheel to remove all embedded brake dust each time you clean them, but this can be made easier with the correct care products applied. 

A question often asked is how often should I clean my wheels, how longs a piece of string? Every time you clean your car, clean your wheels its that simple.

Wheels should be protected every 2 to 3 months, unless you apply a ceramic coating, but even then, I would be protecting that coating every 3 to 4 months to extend its life span.

Knowing what wheels you have and the type of finish they have is essential, this will ensure you pick the correct tools and products foe the job at hand.

Using the wrong tools and chemicals could cause a great deal of damage, so knowing what finish your wheels have on them is important.

Wheels which have a clear coat on them are far easier to clean and maintain, this will allow you to use a variety of products on them safely. Clear coated wheels can be clayed, so this will help with removing bonded contamination, providing a nice smooth surface finish, then wheel sealants can be applied.

If you upgrade your wheels to something that are highly polished or to wheels that are bare metal finished need to be treated with care, untreated wheels with this type of finish will lead to the wheels being oxidized, if this is allowed to continue then this will cause damage, that could be irreversible.

Cleaning and Maintaining Wheels

Never clean Hot Wheels or Wheels that are in direct sunlight……

With any type of wheel finish, always rinse them first after cooling down, to remove as much road grime as possible, you can then apply a snow foam to them (painted clear coat wheels only) then rinse again, then start your cleaning processes. Bare metal or highly polished wheels, its best to rinse to remove road grime, spray on some car shampoos allow to dwell for a short period, rise off then start the normal cleaning processes for this type of finish.

Never clean hot wheels, if you have been driving, always allow the wheels to cool down before using any form of cleaner on them. Using chemicals on wheels that are very hot, not only causes damage to the coating, it damages the wheel itself and causing severe amounts of damage to callipers also. So its not just the coating that’s getting damaged, your protecting your life or a clients life here, by following the correct cleaning methods.

You need to rely on your wheels and brake too much to have them damaged or wheels collapsing while driving, these are just some of the nasty things that can happen with cleaning wheels while they are hot.

You can apply spray cold water on to the wheels, to help them cool down, but never use chemicals on them when they are hot or even warm!

How and with what you clean your wheels with will be determined by how well maintained they are and if they are coated with a wheel sealant or a ceramic coating.

If your wheels are not encrusted with brake dust and only have a small amount of soiling on them, then using a car shampoo and a mitt will be fine or even something like a natural sea sponge will work also. This method of cleaning is fine for all types of finishes, as long as those wheels are not too dirty!!!

With wheels that are coated with a protection be that a ceramic or a wheel sealant, these can easily be maintained as long as they are washed very regular to avoid build ups of contamination to bond to the surface, just remember this golden rule, contamination bonds easier to hot wheels, so remember to wash after each drive to remove contamination, the more contamination the quicker that grime builds and the more damage it does to your wheels as the more severe the cleaning chemical is required to clean them.

The type of chemicals you can use are no acidic pH neutral wheel cleaners, these will prevent unnecessary damage being caused to the protective coating your wheel are given when made. High acidics will just weaken the clear coating or remove the any coating you’ve applied to protect them from road grime and salt.

Using acid wheel cleaners on highly polished wheels or bare metal wheels can cause staining to appear that can be a difficult process to remove and costly, so always inspect those wheels to know what you’re dealing with.

The only type of wheel finish you should ever use a wheel cleaner on that is an acid based cleaner are clear coated wheels, but even then, there are now wheels cleaners that have advanced technology that are pH neutral and acid free that clean just as well if not better, always consult the label and ask before buying.

As we have said above a mitt or natural sea sponge is fine on delicate wheels or those wheels with ceramic coating on them with little soiling, but if your wheels happen to worse than this and are heavily soiled with break dust and iron, then its best to use a dedicated wheel cleaning brush, the best brushes we have found are the woollies wheel brush set, these are a high quality brush, they lat for ages if looked after properly and cleaned out after each use, are safe on wheels and come in different sizes for getting into those very tight spots.

Nylon brushes in particular on bare metal wheel are too stiff, can cause swirling and marring to take place, on painted wheels that are clear coated, again this will cause scratching, this type of wheel finish takes the same amount of care as your car body it’s the same, painted and then a clear coat applied, so same rules apply as you would with the paint on your vehicle. Highly polished or bare metal wheels are delicate surfaces and require great care, so always, use natural products ion these types of finishes.

 Correcting, Polishing and Coating Your Wheels

Once your wheels are fully cleaned and dried you can begin with the correction process or polishing stages. With wheels tat have never been detailed the first stages is correction, once corrected you can proceed to coatings, to correct wheel you can use a clay bar and clay lube or a mixture of water and car shampoo if yod not have clay lube.

To do the inside of your rims its best to take the wheels off the car, if you are a detailing fanatic and you just like keeping your ride in tip top condition, taking one wheel off at a time is fine, unless your in a lucky position to have a ramp at home and can remove all four at the same time. Start by removing the wheel, then when placed on a flat surface with the wheel protected start by using a clay bar and lube to remove any contamination off the surface, this can be carried out for painted clear coated wheels as well as bare metal or highly polished wheels.

Once your wheels are corrected you can get on with the polishing or coating, depending on the finish you have will determine the steps you take.

Bare metal wheels require different products, depending on how tarnished these are will determine what metal polishing pastes you will require, if they are vey tarnished then a heavier cut is required, the Mothers Mag and Ali polish we have always found to be an awesome partner for this type of work, followed by the billet polish to perfect the shine, you can then coat the wheels with a coating.

Painted / clear coated wheels, you will use dedicated cutting and polishing compounds like you would on the bodywork. Using a polishing pad loaded with some cutting compound like Scholl S2 extra heavy cut by hand or on a mini polisher this will cut them back nicely. This can then be followed up with something like Scholl S20, finished of with Scholl S40 Anti Swirl compound, once this is all carried out you can then proceed to coating your wheels with the coating of your choice, this can either be a wheel wax coating / sealant or a ceramic coating.

Having coatings on wheels will make cleaning easier and make the wheels last longer, after all they are not cheap to buy. Keep them clean, Keep them protected.