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Cleaning Wheels


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So I gave my car full detail this afternoon, for the first time since last summer. I only had the car washed once over winter, at an automatic wash. Anyway, when I was cleaning the wheels, I couldn't get all the brake dust off. There are black spots in each gap that would not wipe off with soap and water. I'm guessing these are from brake dust that has etched into the rim? Anyway, is there anything I can use to clean this? Simple soap and sponge would not do it, what about wheel cleaner? Thanks.

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wheel cleaner is an acid it works but it also pits the finish badly if left on which is pretty much what it needs to be removed.

try using old dutch or another slight abrasive cleaner with a tooth brush to remove the rest. Also try going to a power washer ( wear a rubber suit as you will get soaked) and pressing it right up against it after treating it with something powerful .

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I find that "Simple Green" works reather well on brake dust. Spray it on the wheels, then wash your car, and then come back and clean the tires and rims. Feel free to spray it on heavily since it is biodegradable and non-toxic.

"Comet" w/ a hard plastic bristle brush works as well.

You may also want to try "Blue Magic" metal polish. It works great on alloy and chrome wheels and helps get rid of some of the spotting. It also Waxes as it polishes to protect the rims from future dust buildup.

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Comet/stiff brush = BIG NO NO. Your wheels are clearcoated just like your paint, so you shouldn't use anything on the wheels you couldn't use on the paint. Comet will destroy your wheels.

Simple Green is much safer, but still very strong, you can try dilluting it but Simple Green will permenantly etch and stain bare metal, its pretty nasty stuff. Its a "last ditch effort" kind of deal.

What I reccomend is Eagle One A2Z wheel cleaner, its strong but won't hurt your wheels like other cleaners. Spray it on, agitate it with a soft brush and repeat until they look better.

I'm gonna move this to the detailing forum.

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If the brake dust has impregnated itself into the finish then it won;t make a difference what you use as the paint is already shot .besides it is on the tiny areas where it builds up and the old dutch stuff does wonders without being really rough once mixed with water.

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i do prep work and put a wax sealant on my wheels just like i do my paint. it will alleviate the dust sticking to the wheels, and more inmportantly they will give an awesome sparkle in the sun :lol:

to clean my wheels i always use orange power, degreaser works great, been using it for years, cheap too!! plus now you can buy the big container to refill the spray bottle, even better :D

i also use it on the inner fender wells and the bottom valence that gets dirty so quick.

don't leave it sitting on too long though, i wet the area, spray the orange cleaner, leave for no more than 1 minute than rinse, it really works well ;)

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Comet/stiff brush = BIG NO NO. Your wheels are clearcoated just like your paint, so you shouldn't use anything on the wheels you couldn't use on the paint. Comet will destroy your wheels.

Simple Green is much safer, but still very strong, you can try dilluting it but Simple Green will permenantly etch and stain bare metal, its pretty nasty stuff. Its a "last ditch effort" kind of deal.

Actually I beg to differ. I have used Comet and a nice natural bristle brush on my alloy rims for years to remove tough stains/deposits. To date I haven't had any problems with removing the clearcoat or damaging the aluminum. It is not as abrasive as most people think it is. It is actially safe to us on many plastics and synthetic compounds as well. Always test a small spot first, don't use it every time you clean your wheels, and don't grind it in and you'll be OK.

I was referring to the Simple Green Automotive cleaner and/or wheel cleaner foam, not the regular Simple Green. (Sorry I should have clarified that b/c there is a difference.) The automotive cleaner will not stain or etch your alloy wheels, but the alkalinity in the regular version may harm them if left on for more than 10 Min.

A direct quote form their webste:

"As part of our Pro Series line of automotive products, Pro Series Simple Green Wheel Cleaner Foam is a specialized formula that effectively cleans all types of wheels - including alloy / aluminum - without harming the surface or the user. It removes brake dust, grease, oil, bugs, road grime and much more!"

As I mentioned before, Simple Green is non-toxic and biodegradeable and not another harsh cleaner like ammonia or TSP. I prefer to do the environmentally friendly thing whenever possible since my rinsewater ends up in the storm drains that feed into the Chesapeake Bay.

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Simple Green Automotive is simply Simple Green already dilluted, its safe for wheels. Simple Green is a very versitile product when dilluted properly. Actually Simple Green Automotive is a ripoff because if you buy SG and dillute it to where the Automotive is it'll be about 1/4 the price.

I still would not use the Comet, its SO abrasive and the clearcoat is so thin as it is. I find that if I clean my wheels every week or so I never have to use any kind of cleaner on them, whatever I'm using to wash works fine.

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I saw my friends neighbor washing his car. First he sprayed glass cleaner on the wheels and washed the car then after washing he used the same glass cleaner to wipe them, like cleaning a mirror.

What's the scope on this? :unsure:

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Read the labels on what's in these things and then apply common sense! Also, trying to save a few dollars on materials you plan to spray on wheels that cost hundreds of dollars each to replace seems "penny wise-pound foolish." I use Meguiars products and have no problems. :blink:

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Like i said ,what is wrong with glass cleaner.

I would rather drive my car if it was raining glass cleaner than water and dirt and snow and salt. So again i say what is wrong with glass cleaner. Could it be the brake dust at high temps impregnating itself into the wheels is not harmful compared to the glass cleaner? Or amy be the couple of gouges from hitting the curbs with the rims make it worse.

I asked a simple question ,not for a stupid critic.

They are stock wheels they are kept clean. Why would i spend money and time looking after something that is used for winter purposes that i don't like.

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Sorry if I came off too critical. Let me rephrase: My 20+ years experience building and restoring cars is that Windex/glass cleaners work great on plain chrome (wheels, bumpers, trim). If you go to a classic car show, you will see hundreds of guys spraying Windex on chrome wheels to make them shine brightly in the Sun. It will remove brake dust, grime, etc. and indeed leave chrome very shiny. (I actually prefer Stoner's Invisible Glass for the windows themselves). For alloys, "mags", painted, clearcoated, and other more delicate types of wheel surfaces, I recommend high quality automotive brands formulated specifically for these wheel applications, like Meguiars, Mothers, etc. and staying away from products developed 40 years ago to clean stained sinks and floors. Just wanted to help avoid trouble. Good luck! :cheers:

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Chrome wheels sure, chrome wheels are not clearcoated. Glass Cleaner will not harm chrome. Painted wheels ARE clearcoated.

Glass cleaner will remove any wax or polymer on the surface of the wheel and chemically mar the clearcoat, its powerful stuff. Over time it will dull the finish. The wheels are painted in clearcoat just like the paint, if you think washing the car with windex is a bad idea then its a bad idea for the wheels too. A better idea for quick touchups is just to use a quick detailer product designed for paint.

I've seen many people destroy their alloy wheels by using improper products to clean them. They figure "they're only wheels" but the surface is just as easily destroyed as the paint.

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no problem

If the finish of the ES wheels were shiny to begin with or a smooth finish tehn sure it might make it duller. but they are a dimpled finish with a low level shine.

I wouldn't use windex on my car either unless i was waxing it maybe,but still wouldn't.

A dremel and some mag polish formulated for brake dust would get in there real good but it would need a long bit other wise the screw on it would damge the wheels also.

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