Take Your Wheels From Sad To Spectacular
Your car's wheels are like the shoes of your vehicle. They not only play a significant role in the overall appearance but also influence the safety and performance of your car.
Unfortunately, wheels are often overlooked when it comes to routine cleaning and maintenance.
Yet, they're major magnets for brake dust, grime, and dirt. With just a little extra protection and regular cleanings, keeping your wheels clean and protecting them is easier than you might think.
According to Michael Stoops, senior global product and training specialist at Meguiar’s, the best way to protect your wheels from the outside elements is with routine washing.
“Washing wheels with an appropriate wheel cleaner helps prevent buildup of brake dust that can otherwise become very difficult to remove,” Stoops says.
Brake dust accumulates and “burns” into the wheel surface from heat associated with use of the braking system.
“Drivers come to us with neglected wheels where have heavy brake dust has etched the wheel surface, says Stoops. “”They’re looking for a quick and easy fix.
“The quick and easy fix is prevention – clean those wheels regularly and you won’t give that nasty brake dust time to accumulate.”
Aside from regular cleaning, Stoops suggests applying a quality sealant or even a ceramic based wax, such as a hybrid ceramic wax.
“Applying a quality sealant on a regular basis is also a good idea as it can make subsequent cleaning that much easier.”
This may seem off-putting at first, Stoops says, because many wheels have intricate designs, making them tricky to treat with a typical liquid or paste wax.
“In these cases, a quality spray sealant like a hybrid ceramic spray wax can make the task much easier, and an easy application allows you to treat those wheels more frequently without frustration.”
So, why is it important to regularly clean your wheels?
“Keeping the wheels clean can prevent, or at least dramatically slow, the overall degradation of their appearance,” says Stoops. “It’s always easier to clean something than to restore it, so don’t let things get away from you.”
He also goes on to say that paying attention to your wheels on a regular basis gives you the opportunity to check for damage from potholes and curbs, and excess wear on the tires.
In terms of how often “regular” is, Stoops suggests that wheels be cleaned as often as you clean the rest of your vehicle, preferably weekly.
“There are a variety of wheel cleaners on the market, because there is a wide range of wheel finishes available,” says Stoops. “It is very important to select the appropriate wheel cleaner for your type of wheel finish and follow the manufacturer’s directions closely.”
And if you aren’t certain about your specific wheel type, an all-wheel cleaner is a great choice for regular use. Stoops also mentions one of the most important things when it comes to cleaning your wheels is reading the label on the bottle of cleaner you chose.
“At Meguiar’s we probably get more phone calls and emails from people who are confused about product selection and wheel finish, and this is where the most common mistakes are made.”
Stoops recommends matching the cleaner to the finish type and using the product according to the directions on the bottle. Here are a few more tips to keep in mind when cleaning and protecting your wheels:
- Pre-Rinse: Begin by giving your wheels a thorough pre-rinse to remove loose dirt and brake dust. This step helps prevent scratching when you start scrubbing.
- Scrub the wheels: Using a dedicated wheel brush, gently scrub the wheels, including the spokes and the wheel's interior. For hard-to-reach spots, use a smaller brush or an old toothbrush
- Clean the tires: Don't forget the tires; they deserve attention too. Use a tire brush to scrub the sidewalls, removing accumulated grime. A good tire cleaner can help restore the tires' rich black appearance. Take a look at the tires for any bald spots, uneven wear and tread depth
- Rinse thoroughly: Use a hose or pressure washer to rinse off the wheel cleaner and loosened dirt. Make sure to rinse off all residues, including those in the wheel wells
- Dry with care: After rinsing, dry your wheels with a microfiber cloth or a separate towel designated for this purpose. Drying prevents water spots and ensures your wheels shine. Follow up with a wheel sealant
- Use a wheel cover: If you know your car will be sitting for an extended period, consider buying using wheel covers. These are especially handy if you're storing your vehicle or live in areas with severe winter weather, as they protect your wheels from dust and other contaminants
- Drive and store smart: When parking your car, avoid areas with excessive brake dust, like near construction sites or industrial areas. Additionally, avoid harsh braking and sudden stops, which can generate more brake dust.