Keep Your Wheels Shining Brightly In Foul Weather
Harsh weather conspires to deteriorate a wheel’s finish every winter. How can you keep salt, mud and snow from permanently damaging wheel surfaces?
“Slop and road salt is a way of life in winter, especially in the northern states and Canada,” said Adam Bateman, the sales and marketing director for Wizards Products, a Minnesota-based polish and wax company. “Keeping your wheels clean is about making sure rust and corrosion don’t set in. The bonus is when nice weather sets in you don’t have to work as hard to get the shine back.”
Just like a paint job, a layer of wheel protectant or traditional wax provides a shield of sorts for wheels. Such protection takes on added significance in the winter. Salts, acids and chemicals used to clear snow and ice off roadways are extremely caustic to a wheel’s finishes, Bateman said.
“Environmental contaminants eat the clear coat and oxidize aluminum. If the chemicals are left on too long, the wheel’s finishes are destroyed and can’t be restored without hours of polishing and work.”
As with any other aspect of maintenance, routine cleaning prevents the task from becoming too intense, Bateman said.
“If you stay on top of maintenance you will be better off,” he said. “One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give for wheel care is to make sure the product you use doesn’t have an acidic base.”
Bateman suggests cleaning the wheels twice a month – or as often as you wash the exterior – especially if you live in an area that is snowy and icy. He offers the following tips and reasons for keeping wheels clean in the winter:
- Chemicals used to remove ice and snow from roadways are extremely caustic and will damage a wheel’s finish.
- A layer of polish or traditional auto wax provides protection against filthy winter roads.
- Clean your wheels every other week, especially if you live in snow. At a minimum, clean wheels every time you wash the vehicle exterior.
- Choose a cleaner that is acid-free. A general rule: If it is safe to use on vehicle paint, it is safe to use on wheels.
- Cleaning your wheels during the winter is less about making your car look great and more about preventing corrosion and rust from taking hold. Yet, great looking wheels enhance the appeal and value of your vehicle.