Cleaning is done to prolong a certain component’s lifespan and keep it running at its best. The same goes for aluminium wheels as cleaning them on a regular basis helps get rid of brake dust and of course, keeps them looking fresh. Brake dust is actually more of a reason why you need to do this type of car maintenance. Brake dust is basically a mixture of adhesive and carbon fibres that are generated every time you drive. This dust comes off hot and it is highly corrosive which if left on the wheels it can cause them to rust and eventually render them useless.
Benefits of Aluminum Wheels (How They Compare to Steel)
What people also refer to as alloy wheels are made of, you guessed it, aluminium but also nickel. These types of wheels are made by pouring liquid aluminium into a mould and hence why they come out better looking than steel wheels. If you clean aluminium wheels on a regular basis you will also make them look like chrome wheels which are shinier than both steel and aluminium wheels. Aluminium wheels are available in various designs and can come chrome plated and polished out of the box.
Steel wheels are stronger since they are made of a carbon and iron mixture. They are more resilient to scratches and oxidation but they are also heavier than aluminium wheels. Steel wheels can be easier to repair and do not get affected as much by brake dust. However, they are not available in a lot of designs, are known to reduce acceleration and increase fuel consumption too.
How To Clean Wheels
- Start with this DIY car service by rinsing the wheels with a high water pressure attachment on your water hose so you can get rid of dust and grime in every nook and cranny. If the attachment allows you to adjust the nozzle then set it to a wide fan spray so you are able to cover a bigger area more easily. It pays off to be extremely thorough in this process as it will save you a lot of time during later stages
- After you’ve done all of the above, apply some wheel cleaner and make sure you stay away from it when doing so to avoid inhaling any of the fumes from the cleaner. Don’t forget to remove the plastic hub cover before spraying the wheel. Let the cleaner sit for a couple of minutes and then scrub the wheel with a soft-bristled detailing brush by working in the cleaner in small circles. Get yourself a lug nut brush to clean in and around the wheel’s lug nut holes. Make sure you have the wheel wet at all times whilst cleaning it and to damp the brush in a bucket of warm water whenever you notice it becoming dirty.
- Once you’ve given the wheel a good scrub, apply some all-purpose cleaner and this time use a stiffer brush with a long handle. Rinse the wheels after you’ve applied some elbow grease for the second time and dry them off using a microfiber towel so there are no water spots. When they are completely dry, polish the wheels with aluminium polish and a clean rag section by section – start with wheel surface then the lug nuts and lastly the grain of the wheel. You can also use wax the same way or apply a metal sealant.
First of all, it’s important that you get a sealant that’s been made for aluminium wheels. Apply the sealant with a detailing pad and make sure you cover the entire surface of the wheel. You should put sealant the size of a coin and rub it directly onto the centre hub barrel and spokes. Work in the sealant in small circles until it has become clear and you see no streaks or swirls.
If you do not have a detailing pad you can always use a microfiber cloth or a soft car sponge. In case you are using a metal sealant in the form of a spray apply it 5-6 inches (13-15 cm) away from the wheel. Make sure you spray an even coat starting from top to bottom or from left to right.
How Often Do You Need To Clean Wheels?
The preferred time to clean aluminium wheels is whenever you are washing your car, in fact, they should be the first part of the car you wash. It’s recommended that you clean your car twice a month. When you are doing a more thorough cleaning or adding some protective coatings and substances it’s best that you do so 4 to 6 times a year. These car tips apply for the majority of drivers but if you feel like your wheels need cleaning there is no harm in giving them a good wash. If you drive on muddy roads or in areas where there isn’t a lot of pavement washing your car, thus your wheels will need to happen on a more regular basis.