Car wheels and rims are their bling factor. They either spruce up the look of your car making every head turn when cruising down the street, or detract away from it. A set of gleamy rims is definitely a confidence booster. Here are some tips and tricks to bring the shine back to your car wheels and rims.
Know thy Alloy
Before you embark on your cleaning quest, identify what type of alloy your wheel is. Whether they are steel, aluminium or chrome, the cleaning routine and cleaner type is determined by what your wheels are made of. However, in general, restoring your wheels to their showroom condition involves four main steps: hose down, scrub & clean, polish, and seal.
Cleaning Your Car Wheels and Rims
Get into the habit of cleaning your car regularly. It is rather impractical to clean your car after every trip, but a fortnight routine will do the job. And naturally, cleaning the car wheels and rims should always be part of the routine.
Step One: Hose Down
Brake dust is a car rims’ worst enemy. It forms when your brake pads wear away during braking. Brake dust is composed of metal filings, adhesive residues and carbon fibers. When brake dust is deposited at high temperatures, it etches into the wheel’s protective coating. That’s why it’s wise to regularly remove brake dust and road grime from your wheels and prevent build up.
Though it is not necessary, you might remove the wheels from your car for a thorough cleaning as that will grant you better access to hard to reach spaces. Here are the steps:
- Park on a level surface and lift up the handbrake
- Loosen the nuts using a wheel brace
- Jack up the car
- Place the axle stand beneath the jacking point
- Remove the loosened wheel nuts and the wheel
- Ensure that the wheel doesn’t touch the ground
- Remove one wheel at a time
When hosing down the loose chunks of brake dust and other road grime, make sure to clean the wheels first before the car’s body. You don’t want all the dirt to splatter again on a clean paint-job. Also, never clean the car wheels right after driving, let the vehicle cool down first.
Step Two: Scrub the Car Wheels and Rims
After removing the loose surface contaminants, scrub the rim thoroughly using a wash mitt or sponge with normal car shampoo. Stay away from the “tested and tried” hacks floating around the internet like homemade baking soda and acid solutions.
After rinsing off the sud, use a dedicated wheel cleaner if available. Remember, there is no such thing as a no-scrubbing cleaner. Those are myths created for solely marketing purposes. The best rim cleaners can do as good as a good quality degreaser.
If possible use a dedicated wheel brush. At all costs, never use metal-bristle brushes. Instead, use small to medium nylon brushes. Small, handled kitchen brushes are ideal for getting in between the spokes, and bottle brushes and handy for cleaning out the lug-nut wells and other nooks and crannies. Pay attention to the wheel well, use a larger handled brush with sturdy bristles.
Step Three: Polish up
After rinsing the cleaner off, dry the wheel with a microfiber cloth. Dispense the polish on a small piece of cloth and apply it to the rim. Work on small areas and make sure it doesn’t dry on the wheel. When rubbing the polish, avoid the temptation of making circular motions, those swirls will look very ugly afterwards. Instead, follow a pattern by working radially out from the center of the rim, to the spokes and finally to the lip of the rim. And please don’t forget the lug-nuts, they need to shine too.
Step Four: Seal the Deal
After cleaning the excess polish with a clean, lint-free cloth, apply a high-quality sealant. These are superior to your average car wax. Sealing the polish reduces the adhesion of the brake dust, thus reducing the frequency of cleaning routines.
Use just a fingerful on a clean cloth and smear it onto the wheel. Ensure full coverage and leave to the sealant to dry out for around 10-15 minutes. Wipe the dried sealant and repeat for the rest of the three wheels. And voila! A quartet of mirror-like, shiny wheels that will make your car look brand new.
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