Washing Your Wheels and Tires
Your car is your pride and joy and you want to keep looking the best it can be. You wash it diligently and wax it, but one part of the car that is sometimes overlooked are the wheels and tires. Since your wheels and tires are so important, make sure you clean them often by using the least aggressive cleaning method possible.
The main thing that attacks your wheels is brake dust. If you are diligent about removing brake dust on a regular basis, you can wash your wheels when you do a full wash of your car. But if the brake dust has built up in excess, you will have to use other methods to clean the wheels.
Brake pads are made of carbon fibers, metal filings, Kevlar fibers and polymer-based adhesives. The brake pad adhesive is what causes brake dust to get on your wheels. When the adhesive residue becomes wet it turns acidic and can etch your wheels. The metal filings that occur during braking can become red hot and burn tiny holes in the finish of your wheels.
One of the keys to maintaining your wheels is a coat of wax, which acts like a protective shield against brake dust. If a normal car wash does not do the trick, you can use a high quality wheel cleaner. Most of these types of cleaners work best on a dry wheel, but be sure to read the directions on the product you purchase.
Spray the cleaner on the wheel and work it in evenly to all areas of the wheel with a soft cloth, sponge or wash mitt. Try to make it an even smooth coat over the entire wheel. Most cleaners have to stay on for a few minutes or so to be effective. Note: Because the finish on most wheels is very soft it can easily scratch off if there is too much abrasion; so when you are scrubbing your wheels use extreme caution and be very gentle. After the entire cleaner is thoroughly scrubbed in, rinse your wheels completely with water and then dry with a soft cotton towel. It might be a good idea to give your wheels a coat of high quality wax for added protection.
There are also many kinds of products designed to clean protect your tires. These kinds of products are used not only to improve the appearance of your tires and clean them, but protect them against long-term damage. You should always use products specifically designed for your type of tires. For example, if your tires are vinyl, be sure to use a product that is meant to clean only vinyl tires.
To clean your tires, pour a small amount of whatever cleaner you have purchased onto a soft, 100% cotton cloth. Apply the cleaner in a thin, even coating and allow it to stand for 15 minutes then buff off the excess with another clean cloth. Never spray the cleaning product directly onto the tire. This can cause overspray or excess to get onto the wheel and damage the paint.
You can make your wheels and tires look just as good as the rest of your vehicle by simply washing and protecting them on a regular basis.