A Detailers Guide – Cleaning & Protecting Your Alloys & Tires

Cleaning your wheels thoroughly is no easy task, it involves a lot of elbow grease and sometimes the wheels need to come off the car – however once they are looking good they can improve the looks and resale of the vehicle drastically! Here I will break down the steps taken to have perfect looking wheels and tires along with keeping them protected. Keeping them protected will ensure cleaning them from then onwards will be a breeze. Before getting started remember to fill up a separate bucket dedicated for the wheels and wash mitts dedicated for the wheels – these mitts must never touch the paintwork. 

Step 1: Identify Product & Cleaning

First things first, How dirty are the wheels? If they are fairly clean then a Ph neutral wheel cleaner or even a dedicated wheel or car soap will be enough here. If they are caked in brake dust then its time to pull out the Iron & Fallout Remover. This is a product that when it reacts with contamination on the wheel, will turn purple when it reacts with the iron particles from your brakes. For this example we will assume the wheels are filthy and a fallout remover product is required.

Apply the product to one wheel at a time and allow to dwell, once left according to manufacturers instructions rinse the product off. Reapply the product once again.

Using a lug nut brush or wash mitt agitate the surface of the wheel making sure to get behind the spokes, the face of the wheel and tyre. Use a long lambswool brush (Wheel Woolies are great for this) to clean the barrels of the wheel working from the top of the wheel to the bottom. Be sure to also scrub the arches/wheel wells.

Rinse once complete and repeat if necessary. Once the wheels are squeaky clean dry with a separate drying towel from the paintwork.

Once you get back on the road again dirt and brake dust builds up fast on alloys as they (obviously) are closest to the ground. Keeping them protected is an easy way to reduce the rate at which muck will build on the alloys as well as making them a whole lot easier to clean in the future. For this, we use a dedicated wheel wax such as Auto Finesse Mint Rims which is able to resist higher temperatures than normal wax. Auto Finesse Hyrdo Coat can be used for subsequent washes.

Working one wheel at a time apply wax to the face and as much of the barrel as possible and allow to cure. You will see the product start to haze and this is a sign the product has adhered to the surface of the paint.

Buff off residue with a soft microfibre cloth in the same order you applied the wax. Again make sure this cloth never touches the paintwork – I colour coordinate my towels so I know which ones are for dirtier tasks.

Step 3: Tyre Dressing

Tyre Dressing really sets off the wheels and provides a contrast between your wheels and shiny paintwork. Dressings come in different shades such as matt, satin, and gloss so if you have a personal preference you can pick a product which matches your style. Not only do these products keep your tires looking nice they will also keep them protected and can stop them from becoming dry and cracking. Auto Finesse does two tire dressings; Satin & Gloss I personally use Satin for the tires and gloss for plastic arches. 

Using an applicator pad apply a small amount of product to the tire and work into all the pattern on the sidewall. (DO NOT APPLY TO TREAD) You can allow this to dry naturally or use a microfiber towel. Subsequent coats will provide a glossier finish.

And there you have it! Some lovely clean wheels that are now easier to maintain making subsequent washes a breeze.

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