Wheels, rims, alloys, hoops, rolling stock, dishes, ‘mags’ – whatever you call them, there can be no denying the essential role wheels play in your car and its continued ability to function as a form of transportation, and that’s before we even get to the really exciting stuff – the impact they can have on your car’s overall look. Wheels don’t merely allow your pride and joy to move of course, they have a disproportionate impact on its appearance, and it’s no exaggeration to suggest that a set of alloys really can make or break it, hence why it’s so important to pick wisely.
Few things can let a car down like a dirty set of wheels, which is why so many of us devote so much of our time to keeping them looking cleaner than the day they rolled off the line – no mean feat when you consider they’re ‘on the front line,’ in constant contact with road-bound contaminants, muck and grease. With this in mind, we thought it high time we take another look at the ins and outs of wheel care and how best to use the Autoglym range to keep yours looking box-fresh!
Fail To Prepare, Prepare To Fail
There’s no substitute for beginning the cleaning process with a good high pressure hose blast. This should be enough to shift some of the larger contaminants, as well as recently acquired road grime and any traces of mud lodged in the spoke detailing. It should also give you a better idea of what you’re dealing with, precisely how grimy your wheels are – and what your next step should be.
Acid Or Alkali?
Much has been written about the various pros and cons of the two principle types of dedicated wheel cleaner, those based upon acid and those based upon alkali. We’re able to supply both, with Clean Wheels being the former, Custom Wheel Cleaner the latter. The former has earned a reputation for being both easy to use and incredibly tough on grime, though its high acid base means that it shouldn’t be used on all wheels. Alloys with an anodised or chromed coating, or those with a diamond cut are not suitable for Acid Wheel Cleaning treatments. These finishes do not like acid, potentially leading to a compromised finish on the wheel.
The sheer capability of acid wheel cleaners has led many car care aficionados to view those rooted in alkali formulations as somehow inferior, but nothing could be further from the truth. Custom Wheel Cleaner is a good example of an immensely capable cleaning product that’s safe to use on all types of wheels, particularly expensive aftermarket wheels, ‘split rims’ or those with thinner, more chemically sensitive coatings. Its carefully developed, acid free, alkaline formulation means that it will have no problem removing the iron deposits caused by repeated braking, yet won’t cause damage to the alloy itself.
No matter whether you opt for Clean Wheels or Custom Wheel Cleaner, the application process is the same. Spray an even, generous coating of your product of choice onto one wheel at a time, working from the bottom of the wheel upwards and taking care to fully coat the surface. Allow a few moments for the product to go to work, then use a non marking, metal free brush or mitt to agitate the cleaner, concentrating on any dirt trap areas and the tyre wall. Finish by rinsing off any remaining product, then move on to the next wheel.
The above is a basic guide to how to approach the physical wheel cleaning process, though you may find that you have to devote a greater period of time (and a more elbow grease) to fully shift brake dust deposits and stubborn iron stains.
As we’ve already mentioned, your wheels have the unenviable task of facing-off against the very worst that the British weather and road network can muster, hence why a basic spruce-up like the one outlined above may not be enough to get them completely clean. Tar is as stubborn as it is common, and normally manifests itself as a series of small (yet annoyingly conspicuous, particularly if your wheels are silver) black spots. It’s a tricky customer and one which requires a dedicated, fast acting Autoglym product – Intensive Tar Remover.
Intensive Tar Remover has been formulated to ruthlessly dissolve, loosen and shift tar (who’d have thunk it?), but it has also proved highly effective at ridding your wheels of glue residue, pen marks and stains from petrochemicals. Application is both swift and easy – simply apply directly to the tar stains with a clean cotton cloth, allowing a couple of minutes of contact time before attempting to wipe or wash them off. Heavy petrochemical stains may require a longer application process and gentle agitation before they can be removed.
Icing The Cake
You wouldn’t send an oven-fresh birthday cake out without first treating it to a layer of icing, so why on earth would you clean your wheels without also giving your tyres some love and care? We developed Instant Tyre Dressing for this very reason, and there’s a strong argument for it being among the most satisfying products to use in the entire Autoglym range. Based around a durable polymer-silicone base, Instant Tyre Dressing has the potential to dramatically alter the look of your sidewalls by giving you the option of gloss or a matt look; simply leave it to dry for the former or remove any excess with a microfibre cloth to achieve the latter.
Application is a doddle no matter which ‘look’ you fancy: simply ensure that the sidewalls are free from dirt and other detritus so that the dressing has maximum contact with the rubber, then apply a generous layer along the length of the sidewall.
Protecting Your Investment
The stages outlined above should, if done correctly, take a good hour or so, all the more reason to protect your time investment by sealing in all your good work, ideally with a protective layer of Wheel Protector or, if your alloys are dark grey or black, Ultra High Definition Wax.
Autoglym Wheel Protector imparts a super-hydrophobic coating to your wheels that acts as a durable barrier, minimising brake dust adhesion so your wheels remain cleaner for longer. It’s important to apply it to wheels which are completely dry, while you should aim to make the coating itself as even as possible, taking care to avoid getting any on the tyre – it can leave a white residue if left to dry. To work effectively and to remain in place for a long time, Wheel Protector needs time to dry, so don’t touch or buff the wheel once it’s been applied.