How To Completely Detail Alloy Wheels And Get It To Look Super Polished
A glossy exterior paint finish of the car’s body together with clean and polished alloy wheels will complete an aesthetically stunning look. Leaving cleaning the alloy wheels out and looking at your car won’t be as satisfying.
The dull and dirty look will catch more of your attention no matter how spick and span the paintwork is. And this is not something you can avoid. It won’t be long for a newly bought or washed car to start looking grubby from all the contaminants on the road.
For this reason, lots of people ask questions like:
- How do you detail alloy wheels?
- How can you clean alloy wheels at home?
- And how do you shine alloy wheels?
In today’s post, we’ll provide you with a 9-step alloy wheel detailing guide to make it look super polished fast.
If you’re interested in keeping your alloy wheels as good-looking as they can be, this post is for you.
Read on to start learning about the 9-step detailing process.
Step 1: Prepare Cleaners And Tools
To avoid wasting time going back and forth to get things you need, it’s always best to collect everything you’ll use before starting.
To clean alloy wheels, you’ll need:
- Microfiber towel for drying
- Alloy sealant or wax
- Applicator pad
- Car cleaning gun
- 1 bucket of water to rinse the car cleaning gun’s nozzle
- Alloy wheel cleaner
I purposely put the alloy wheel cleaner last because we’re going to delve a little bit deeper into that. For the alloy wheel cleaner, you have 3 choices.
- The usual store-bought spray-on alloy cleaner
- Vinegar or lemon juice
- Foaming oven cleaner
Store-bought Spray-on Cleaner
This is the usual one you’ll find in your local hardware. This alloy wheel cleaner removes grime, tar, dust, and other contaminants in just one application. The downside is, most of them have harmful chemicals.
Vinegar or Lemon Juice
If you’re looking for an affordable alloy wheel cleaner you can easily find at home, vinegar or lemon juice will do the trick. Just dilute it with some distilled water and use a spray bottle to apply.
The good thing about this option is that it doesn’t have the concentrated chemicals the store-bought cleaners have so it won’t etch the surface.
The natural acids of vinegar and lemon juice can cut through thick, filthy, and stubborn grime. However, it’s not as powerful as the store-bought alloy wheel cleaner so you have to soak the wheels with it for around 10-20 minutes, especially when it’s super dirty.
Foaming Oven Cleaner
A foaming oven cleaner is potent enough to break down grease, minerals stains, and even rust. But the chemical can irritate your skin so be sure to wear gloves if you choose this as your alloy wheel cleaner.
Step 2: Rinse Wheels
You can use an ordinary water hose, or better yet, a car cleaning gun to blast water on the wheels. One, it softens the caked-in mud, and two, it’ll blast off most of the contaminants clinging to the surface so you can save on the cleaner later on.
While alloy wheels are more durable than its steel wheels, it’s still prone to corrosion. Especially when the contaminants are in contact with wheels for a long time, the tendency when it’s rinsed without any pressure. There won’t be enough force to dislodge stubborn dirt on hard-to-reach areas.
This is where a car cleaning gun comes in handy. Since it’s used with an air compressor, you can rinse the wheels along with high-air pressure to eject stubborn dirt out.
Granted, alloy wheels are more corrosion resistant. But brake dust, something that can’t be completely avoided, is made up of carbon fibers, iron, and adhesive that when heated by friction can be highly corrosive.
Recommended Reading: 6 Proven Steps To Get Rid Of Brake Dust And Get Wheels Looking New Again
So it’s still important to decontaminate the wheel’s surface completely, especially the crevices where contaminants tend to sit and hide for a long time.
Step: 3 Spray On The Alloy Wheel Cleaner Of Choice
Spray on a generous amount of the wheel cleaner you choose to use. By generous, I mean getting the wheel cleaner into the narrow gaps, spokes, lug nuts, and the not-so-visible surfaces of the wheels.
To make sure you get full coverage, use the car cleaning gun. It’ll agitate the dust the same time you apply the cleaner.
When the surface is particularly filthy, rinse the nozzle often to prevent the dust that flew off from sticking back to the wheel’s surface.
As I’ve said earlier, heated brake dust can be corrosive, especially so when it’s been exposed to friction for too long, the dust gets baked on the wheel’s surface.
Simple rinsing won’t take off baked-on brake dust. The wheel cleaner is needed to lift the dust up so it’s easier to agitate to remove.
Tip: Avoid washing the wheels under direct sunlight. The cleaner will dry faster and will cause stains.
Step 4: Let The Alloy Cleaner Dwell
Allow the alloy wheel cleaner to sit on the wheel’s surface for at least 2 minutes. This dwell time will help the cleaner penetrate the caked-on dust.
After that, it’s time to proceed to step 5.
Step 5: Rinse
Yes, it’s time to rinse. Since you’ll be using a car cleaning gun, you don't need a brush to agitate the surfaces anymore. The air pressure that comes with the cleaner sprayed by the car cleaning gun will be the one to dislodge the dirt, no matter how stubborn it is.
The less surface contact you have with the wheels, the lesser potential for scratch and swirl marks.
Again, use the car cleaning gun. Just replace the cleaner with pure water in the container. Using a car cleaning gun will make sure you will rinse the surface thoroughly, even the crevices so no stains or residue will form.
Recommended Reading: 3 Key Benefits Of Using A Car Cleaning Gun You Should Know About
Step 6: Dry
Using the clean microfiber towel, wipe the wheel’s surface dry from top to bottom. This will ensure you soak up standing water to prevent watermarks.
As an extra step, but optional. Go over the surface with a wheel clay to lift any dirt left behind.
Step 7: Apply Sealant Or Wax
Get yourself an alloy wheel sealant from your local hardware or automotive supply. The sealant acts as a protective buffer against dirt and debris.
An alloy wheel sealant is moderately durable and glossy, sitting between less durable wax or a more durable ceramic coat. When compared to wax, an alloy wheel sealant can last for months plus they’re more resistant to UV damage, heat, and road grime.
It often comes in liquid form so you can simply spray it on the wheels and spread using the applicator pad. Hold the spray at least 6 inches away from the wheel applying from top to bottom.
There’s a high-gloss version of a wheel sealant if you want a finish that comes close to how glossy a wax can give.
On the other hand, if you opt to use wax, you’ll get a deep reflection finish for your wheels. The downside is, it can be expensive, it can melt in hot climates, and it’s not as long-lasting as the sealant.
Step 8: Let The Sealant Or Wax Cure For 30 Minutes
Letting it dwell for half an hour lets the sealant absorb into the alloy. It helps protect it from the inside. It’s best to work in an open space but not under direct sunlight.
Step 9: Buff The Wheels
Now we’re down to the last part, buffing the wheels. Using the applicator pad, buff in small circles to polish the surface and remove the excess product.
If you’re doing it manually, use one side of the pad to remove the excess wax or sealant and the other side to buff it.
If you want to do it faster, you can use a drill with a buffing attachment.
Once done, you’re ready to hit the road and show off your spick and span wheels.
Enjoy Your Polished Alloy Wheels
Seeing those wheels sparkle when hit by the sunlight will give you a sense of satisfaction only those who detail their wheels get.
And it’s not just for aesthetics, it’s also preventive maintenance to keep your wheels in good condition for a long time.
Try detailing your alloy wheels at home now!