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Wheel Cleaning

Posted May 17th, 2012 by Anthony with No Comments

I think some of you have seen the wheel brush I use and know my process. I just wanted to show off some of the results since wheel cleaning is kind of a chore that none of us like to do. However, it is also the first thing I look at when buying a used car. If the wheels are pitted and corroded, then I can be pretty sure that the rest of the car was neglected as well. There is no reason to believe they took the time to clay and polish their car if they were content with brake dust coating their rims and eating them up.

So this is a relatively new Audi Q5. Not a bad little vehicle really. The problem with nearly all German vehicles is the brake dust though, so I’d have to really have a good reason to buy an Audi, BMW, Mercedes, or Porsche. They are great cars and all, but if I have to scrape brake dust off every week, then I’m afraid that takes away from the sexiness for me. I’m not into high maintenance women and definitely not into high maintenance vehicles.

The first thing I did was spray them down with Eagle One A 2 Z. That is my favorite wheel cleaner. It does a great job of getting brake dust off tires and wheels. However, there is only so much that can do. What it did here was get the top layer off, but it still left a lot on it. I should have taken a before and after picture, but let’s just say not much came off. Mostly just the surface stuff from the past couple days and a lot of junk on the tires. The rest had to be scrubbed off.

Look at how black the inside of that rim is. It is just nasty. The whole thing is nasty. This product will get a lot of it off the spokes, but the lip and that ledge inside of it before you get to the inner part of the wheel is where the brake dust does the most damage. There was crap on this wheel which I was not going to spend all day scrubbing at just so it could be neglected again, but with a little extra elbow grease and a nice wheel brush, I got it looking like this:

The magic there was not in relying on the wheel cleaner to do all my work for me. After I washed the rest of the car, I used the bucket of water to go to work on the wheels. Obviously you don’t want to do it before you wash the car or else you’d be doing it with black water. So I took my handy dandy wheel brush I got from Autogeek at SEMA a couple years ago and went to town scrubbing.

Since the brake dust on these wheels hadn’t really had time to do serious damage, most of it came off pretty quick. I just jammed the brush in between the spokes and scrubbed the inside of the wheel. I treated it just like I was brushing teeth when it came to the lip. Scrub scrub scrub… rinse… repeat…. I use a combination of a couple brushes for this kind of thing. One is a Meguiar’s brush, but it works better for large flat faced wheels like the ones on my Corolla.

For this job I used the Daytona Speed Master Wheel Brush. To take a page out of my most recent detailing guide, here are some process pictures on my car.

 

 

 

 

That brush does an awesome job and is totally safe on your wheels. The wire that the bristles attach to is wrapped in thick rubber and no metal touches your wheel. I’ve bent this thing back and forth so many times over the last two or three years that you’d think it would have broken by now, but it hasn’t. It is an awesome brush. There are a couple similar models out there on the shelves, but my problem with them has been that they don’t wrap the wire with rubber and they also break pretty easily. So just be picky when shopping for one.

On this particular Audi I want to show you what it looked like with just a quick scrubbing on the passenger side front wheel. The right side was just a quick scrubbing, but you can totally see how much better right side of the inner part of that wheel looks in comparison to the left side.

 

You can also see the parts which require a little more effort which are left, but that is what you get when you have a German car. Using the Meguiar’s brush worked out really well on those parts, so ultimately the wheels turned out pretty good. The back ones weren’t so bad, but here is the before and after one of the rear wheels on the Audi:

Before:

After:

So get yourself a good wheel brush and stay on top of them if you have a lot of brake dust. I’ve found NOTHING which really keeps it off, but I can tell you that putting a sealant on them does help make them easier to clean. Waxing doesn’t really help because it just gets too hot and it vaporizes in a couple days. Wheel Waxes don’t really help either. I’ve used sprays, jellies, waxes, sealants, voodoo, and everything else I can think of. The only thing that works is cleaning them regularly. Let me know if you find anything else that really works because I’ve been stumped. Fortunately I don’t buy cars with this problem, so I haven’t had to deal with it much. I do still maintain my rims though because I know if I make judgments about car care based on their condition, then it is likely that others do as well. I do intent on selling my vehicles at some point, so keeping them looking good is a high priority for me.

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