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Smart Tips on How to Clean Aluminum Wheels

Shrinivas Kanade
Got a set of new aluminum wheels but are worried about oxidation ruining its look? To maintain its shine, aluminum wheels need to be cleaned from time to time.
You may have painted your vehicle's aluminum wheels to complement the car's color, or mostly used anodized aluminum wheels to improve their looks.
The major problem is the oxidation which makes these wheels look dirty and old. Grit, grease stains, and tar also do their best to make them look ugly which ultimately, mars the beauty of your vehicle.
Here are some helpful tips on cleaning them.
1. First of all, we will undertake the task by taking the wheels off one at a time, this will help in handling the wheel easily while continuing with the task.
2. Before starting, remove items such as center-caps, valve stem covers, etc. This will reduce the surface area to be cleaned and you will be able to work unobstructed.
3. The hot dust particles resulting from the use of brakes eventually give rise to problems; the dust particles mixed with tar from the road, and the grease can get stuck to the wheel.
4. Here are a few characteristics that you may use for stain removal. Before purchasing the cleaning solution or paste or gel, make sure that they do not contain ammonia, anhydrous chemicals or acids.
Though the cleaning solutions containing these chemicals gets the dirt off the metal surfaces and makes it look shiny, the effect is short-lived. Ammonia and anhydrous chemicals can etch and age the metal in the wheels prematurely. These chemicals can cause re-oxidation and tarnish these wheels.
5. If you have fitted your car with mag alloy or magnesium alloy wheels, know that it is white in color, which you cannot improve by polishing unless there is less than 20 percent of magnesium in it.
6. The next step is to wash the wheel. Use the cleaning solution to get all the loose dirt off the wheels.
7. If you are going to use a brush, then use a wheel brush, which is lot softer and doesn't leave scratches on the surface.
8. Try to reach every nook and cranny to get rid of the loose dirt. Afterwards, dry it using a clean cloth or towel.
9. Next, we tackle the stubborn grease stains and tar that have survived the washing and are still present on the surface.
10. These can be removed using wax and grease remover solution such as paint prep. Pour a small amount of this solution in a small pot.
11. Soak a soft cloth in the grease remover solution and wipe the wheel several times. If the stains still persist, wipe the wheel with a clean rag and re-apply more wax and grease solution to the wheel surface.
12. Pits, if they are present, need to be buffed to get rid of them. Remember that coarser the abrasive pad or sandpaper, the more deep will be the scratches that it leaves behind.
13. Use the finest grade pad or the least you can start with is 400 grit wet and dry paper and then to polish off its work and the remove the scratches, use 600 grit paper.
14. Ideally, it is advised not to use below 180 grit sandpaper on the aluminum wheels, but if the situation demands it you can pick from 80 - 2000 grit sandpaper.
15. Be careful to stroke evenly and in straight lines, round the rim and on the faces to get the best results.
16. When you move from one grit paper to the next, buff at an angle 90 degrees to the direction you used with the last grit paper.
17. Clean with a rag as often as possible to remove the loose debris from the surface you are working at, rather than working it into the surface.
18. Repeat the process till you are sure that the wheel is clean of all the stains and pits. Take special care while cleaning the areas with nut-holes, corners and joints, especially, where the surfaces join the hub.
19. If you are satisfied with the result, wash the wheel to get rid of the used cleaning solution and the dirt off the surface.
20. Polishing aluminum wheels is always recommended after it is washed, so, use a soft and clean cloth to first, let the wheel dry and then you can use any of the polishes available or can choose to wax and buff it.
21. Repeat all these steps for the other wheels.
After finishing with all the wheels of your vehicle, you may wish to go a step further and paint the rim, but it is advised to leave this job with the professionals unless you are a steady hand. Wash the car to complete the job.
It is easy to dream about a shiny and eye-catching vehicle, but it is difficult to maintain one on our own. The instructions given are easy to follow and you can get the desired results with it.