best way to clean alloys?

Stuart Wright

AVForums Founder
Staff member
Doesn't take my alloys long before they get caked in sooty deposits.
The yellow sponge gets filthy if I use that on them.
I tried using cheap washing up sponges, but after the first couple of wheels, they get irretrievably black.
What's the best way to clean alloys?
 

FZR400RRSP

Banned
I don't use snow foam or a pressure washer on my wheels.
I have a pressure washer, but I hate the rigmarole of setting it up and just use a hose and gun instead.

1/ spray on wheel cleaner (currently Meguiars hot wheels)
2/ leave to soak for a while and agitate with a brush for heavy deposits/nooks/crannies
3/ wash off with shampoo already used on the car body
4/ remove tar spots if required with tar remover
5/ shove on some polish (anything lying around)
6/ seal with 'poorboys' wheel sealer

I don't do steps 4-6 every time, steps 1-3 does fine for a good few washes before you have to re-do steps 4-6
 
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FZR400RRSP

Banned
I just use a brush that came with a box of 'wonder wheels'
I know WW is bad, I rarely use it.
Maybe once a year, after winter.
 

mjn

Distinguished Member

961

Well-known Member
Doesn't half scratch the finish on the alloys though. :eek:

That's exactly why I rarely touch the wheels or the bodywork with anything such as a brush or sponge

I fully accept that the day to day appearance may be a little less than sparkling but there are no scratches

Once a year in the summer :)lease:) I will give the bodywork a deep clean with a clay bar followed by thorough polish and seal but after that I won't touch the bodywork or wheels again till next summer

And I never use anything other than microfilter gloves. Sponges are a big no-no
 

essjay

Novice Member
Doesn't half scratch the finish on the alloys though. :eek:

I've used one of these for many years with no scratches.

My usual process would be as follows for real dirty wheels.

Spray with snow foam via pressure washer
rinse with washer

Spray on cleaner (Meguiar’s Wheel Brightener or Valet Pro Bilberry) leave to dwell, agitate with brush and rinse.

Spray on fall out remover (Iron x) and rinse, spray on tar remover (Tardis) again agitate if needed and rinse.

Rinse again with shampoo and brush or sponge.

Dry and then seal with product (Zaino z16)

will only need to do this 2/3 times a year, once they are clean normal shampoo and brush should do the trick.

There is a really good guide here

Caring For Wheels And Tyres | Car Care Advice | Polished Bliss
 

Epicurus

Well-known Member
If my wheels are left too long and become "caked" with deposits as you describe, then personally I'm very happy with the performance of wonder wheels. Just apply it, work in with the brush and use the pressure washer to rinse of afterwards,

It does a great job of making wheels shine like new, and works just as well on exhaust trim too.
 

namuk

Distinguished Member
Do not use ACID based wheels cleaners even ask your self would you wash the car with the same cleaner as Alloys are Lacquered as is paintwork, just use concentrated wash and wax with some water and a good soft wheel brush and rinse then apply wax to wheels if you want too.
 

mjn

Distinguished Member
I also use Tardis before IronX, get much better results :thumbsup:
 

KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
You can now buy a combined version called Tar-X but it's quite expensive IMHO, though seems to get good reviews.

Personally I think the best approach (apart from getting someone else to do it :D) is to get them really clean and then give them a coat of wax/sealant, even if it isn't specifically for wheels anything is better than nothing. Then ordinary car shampoo seems to work well...certainly on my work car that does anything up to 1,000 miles a week and gets washed maybe once a fortnight. If I leave it a bit too long then a diluted solution of Bilberry wheel cleaner (non acid ;) ) left to soak while I wash the bodywork, seems to do the trick.

I used wonderwheels to clean the backs of my Z3 alloys which hadn't been done for 11 years I reckon. I did rinse them thoroughly afterwards, then de tarred and used Wolfs brake duster to remove iron deposits, polished then two coats of wheel sealant. I did try Bilberry, etc first but it just wouldn't touch the baked on dirt, so wonderwheels does have it's uses, just not every time you wash the car. ;)

Before (left half has wonderwheels applied):


After:


Looks pretty good back on the car:


I also use an EZ brush and don't find it scratches my wheels, though I tend to just push it through the spokes to do the wheel backs. The fronts I do with a sponge (rather than risk getting grit on my wash mitt).
 
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Your best bet is to set aside an afternoon and remove the alloys, clean them properly and then apply a wax to protect them. There are several good wax/sealants on the market that you could use. I use FinishKare 1000p on mine. Once fully cleaned and clayed I apply the wax to the front and back of the alloys. It will then last a good few months and all you'll need to do is give them a jet wash and quick wipe over with a sponge and soapy water.

Obviously if you leave it months between washing your alloys and doing quite a few miles it won't be as easy to clean.

I don't think we're a million miles apart so happy to help and provide my wax if you need a hand considering you provide a free forum for us to use!
 

gam

Well-known Member
You can now buy a combined version called Tar-X but it's quite expensive IMHO, though seems to get good reviews.

Personally I think the best approach (apart from getting someone else to do it :D) is to get them really clean and then give them a coat of wax/sealant, even if it isn't specifically for wheels anything is better than nothing. Then ordinary car shampoo seems to work well...certainly on my work car that does anything up to 1,000 miles a week and gets washed maybe once a fortnight. If I leave it a bit too long then a diluted solution of Bilberry wheel cleaner (non acid ;) ) left to soak while I wash the bodywork, seems to do the trick.

I used wonderwheels to clean the backs of my Z3 alloys which hadn't been done for 11 years I reckon. I did rinse them thoroughly afterwards, then de tarred and used Wolfs brake duster to remove iron deposits, polished then two coats of wheel sealant. I did try Bilberry, etc first but it just wouldn't touch the baked on dirt, so wonderwheels does have it's uses, just not every time you wash the car. ;)

Before (left half has wonderwheels applied):
image


After:
image


Looks pretty good back on the car:
image


I also use an EZ brush and don't find it scratches my wheels, though I tend to just push it through the spokes to do the wheel backs. The fronts I do with a sponge (rather than risk getting grit on my wash mitt).

had to do the same early last year with the wheels I got with a 2 year old A3, took me two evenings and although not as bad as yours I did need to get the wonder wheels out for the first time in years, which is now back gathering dust again, didn't think to take pictures :facepalm:

got another set of alloys last summer and used the original ones for the winter, while they where off they ended up getting 4 coats of sealant and have only been washed with ordinary car shampoo since they were put back on near the end of april I think, they're lasting nicely although with probably fairly low miles

only other thing I do with them is give them a clay before polishing/sealing and also I use my old mit which was starting to get tatty to wash them with along with the ezbrush for the inner's

straight after a wash and rinse




and after they're dried


have the winter ones all cleaned up with 2 coats of sealant on them in bags ready for a quick wipe down and another couple of coats when they're going back on later in the year
 

961

Well-known Member
got another set of alloys last summer and used the original ones for the winter, while they where off they ended up getting 4 coats of sealant and have only been washed with ordinary car shampoo since they were put back on near the end of april I think, they're lasting nicely although with probably fairly low miles

only other thing I do with them is give them a clay before polishing/sealing and also I use my old mit which was starting to get tatty to wash them with along with the ezbrush for the inner's

You've done the business

Many think alloy wheels are different to the rest of the bodywork but actually they aren't. They do have a painted surface rather than the metal surface "alloy" suggests

Brake dust corrodes and needs washing off frequently. The wheels need lots of protection just as you suggest
 

Beobloke

Active Member
I just use a brush that came with a box of 'wonder wheels'
I know WW is bad, I rarely use it.

Apologies for resurrecting an old thread, but what is the issue with Wonder Wheels? I had assumed, given other comments in the thread, that it is acidic but it appears to be one of the only wheel cleaners in my local empoirium that doesn't have a warning that it contains acid!

Just idly wondering as I've used it once or twice a year for a number of years and find it to be absolutely superb.
 

FZR400RRSP

Banned
Beobloke said:
Apologies for resurrecting an old thread, but what is the issue with Wonder Wheels? I had assumed, given other comments in the thread that it is acidic but it appears to be one of the only wheel cleaners in my local empoirium that doesn't have a warning that it contains acid!

Just idly wondering as I've used it once or twice a year for a number of years and find it to be absolutely superb.

It's 16% hydrofluoric acid and as such is pretty brutal.
It will damage non-lacquered wheels, or wheels with damaged lacquer.
I'll use it once a year, maybe, just after winter.
For regular use, far too brutal.
 

KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
A colleague took his car in for service this week, he's had it about 3 months longer than mine. He complained about the rusty brake disc 'bells' behind his wheels. Mine are still like new, but we figured it was because he'd had his car over last winter and I got mine in February this year so perhaps it was the salt on the roads. I'm at 14,000 miles and he's at 20,000 approx, so also maybe the mileage we thought.

When he collected the car they told him that it wasn't covered under warranty because it was damage caused by harsh acid wheel cleaners. :eek: The difference being that I clean my car myself and use diluted 'Bilberry' wheel cleaner and I treat them to a couple of coats of wheel sealant occasionally. He takes his to the local supermarket car cleaners where they spray the wheels with some unknown cleaner (possibly even oven cleaner as some use apparently :eek:) and of course has no comeback.

I know it's not a major issue as they are both company cars, but it does show that two very similar cars less than a year old are now in quite different condition just due to the cleaning methods.
 

Jules Winfield

Well-known Member
Bilberry (diluted) works a treat. A quick initial rinse with a hose, then I spray it on, leave it for a couple of minutes, spray on a bit more and agitate it with a brush. Then I rinse off, which leaves my wheels looking pristine.

I use winter wheels and tyres, so whenever I change wheels/tyres, I thoroughly clean both sides of the wheels, then I pop some sealant on them. During the summer months, I skip using Bilberry (which will take off the sealant) and just use a hose, some cheapo Halfords car wash and a couple of decent wheel brushes.
 

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