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Caring for Custom Wheels

Michelle Naranjo
by Michelle Naranjo
January 15, 2009

Custom wheels represent an investment in your vehicle. Preserving the appearance of the wheel requires ongoing maintenance. Each type of custom wheel finish has its own unique maintenance requirements. The first thing is to determine if the wheels are made of chrome and not polished aluminum. Chrome does not tarnish and only pits if it is beginning to rust. Chrome plated alloy wheels need to be washed with mild soap and water. To maintain the finish, use car wax or an instant detailer product. Polished alloy wheels should be washed with a heavy metal tire and wheel cleaner on a regular basis and polished with a heavy metal polisher several times a year. Painted alloy wheels can be washed with mild soap and water. If brake dust build up is extreme, use a heavy metal tire and wheel cleaner. Machined and clear coated alloy wheels can be washed with mild soap and water. If brake dust build up is extreme, use a heavy metal tire and wheel cleaner. Chrome or painted steel wheels require regular washing with mild soap and water followed up with an occasional coat of car wax or a heavy metal instant detailer. Custom wheels can provide years of pleasure and service with the proper care. The best possible option for custom wheels in severe winter climates is the use of snow wheels with winter tires. If you choose to run your custom wheels through the winter months, it is very important to exercise a regular maintenance program. Many of the communities in the Northern United States use salt or strong chemical deicers during snow and icy conditions. These elements can be very caustic and can corrode the metal parts on your vehicle, including the wheels. For best winter protection against corrosion, rinse your vehicle daily and wash your vehicle thoroughly once a week. This simple practice will aid in the prevention of premature wear on the vehicle's finish and your custom wheels. • Water hose • Chrome cleaner • Sponge • Wax • Water • Auto wash shampoo • Wheel polish • Bucket 1. Fine spray rinse wheels/spinners off with water. 2. Mix car shampoo wash & wax with water in a bucket and wash wheels with sponge. 3. Rinse the wheels with clean water. Use a hose with a sprayer attachment for the best results. 4. If wheels are still stained, use a chromed wheel only cleaner. Spray it on a, lightly scrub with a sponge if required and hose it off. 5. Spray chrome wheel cleaner on any remaining stubborn spots, lightly scrub and rinse. 6. Sponge-clean the wheels with a mixture of auto shampoo and water. 7. Rub on wheel polish after cleaning. 8. Buff to bring out the shine. 9. Use a car wax to add a protective layer. Wax helps to protect the chrome finish by adding a protective layer. Dirt and brake dust will stick to the wax rather than the chrome finish making cleaning a lot easier. 10. Moisture in the climate reacts with the chrome plating. Cleaning your wheels regularly will keep brake dust, salt and dirt from pitting the finish. 11. Do not go through car washes. Detergents could damage or scratch the chrome finish. Wheel dirt/brake dust cleaners with acid content can effect the finish. For damaged wheels use a clear lacquer, such as clear nail polish, to reseal the chrome finish and to keep moisture from getting underneath the chrome and causing the overall finish to corrode and deteriorate.


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