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Safe wheel cleaner?

19346 Views 42 Replies 27 Participants Last post by  Dennis H
So these are the first painted wheels I've ever owned. Most wheel cleaners say safe for chrome, or aluminum. A few say "all", but I'm always skeptical of those claims. So for those of you that have had your cat for long enough to wash the wheels a few times, what have you been using? Is it effective, and did it damage the paint/coating at all?

I'm very familiar with the dust the Brembos can produce, so I expect that any of you that have had your car for more than a month are already experts at this. Since I just picked mine up on Monday, I haven't cleaned the wheels yet. I'm not necessarily looking for something to repel/reduce the brake dust. Just a safe cleaner for the wheels. I've used Eagle1 stuff in the past, and always been happy with it.
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car wash soap
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
car wash soap
I guess that makes sense, since they are painted. I really hope there's a product out there that will get a little more aggressive to help remove the brake dust, though.
 

· The Punisher
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The paint is thin on these rims, I would not recommend anything too harsh. I think HCone is spot on - car wash soap. I've use a some Dawn in a separate bucket for just the rims.

Also recommend you consider swapping the brake pads to the Power Stop Z23 - really cuts back on the dust.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The "flyer" that was attached to your driver's side visor advises to use basic soap on these wheels.
I didn't get a flyer on my driver side visor. What else did it say?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The paint is thin on these rims, I would not recommend anything too harsh. I think HCone is spot on - car wash soap. I've use a some Dawn in a separate bucket for just the rims.

Also recommend you consider swapping the brake pads to the Power Stop Z23 - really cuts back on the dust.
Good advice. Thanks. I had considered the power stop pads, but I really wanted to experience the full power of these brakes. I swapped to ceramics on my 06 SRT8 and the stopping power was reduced (significantly, in the rain). Since I'm over 500 miles already, it's probably a little late to swap pads now, since they are bedded in. I'll probably deal with it until the pads chew up the rotors like they did on my 06, and then go ceramic.
 

· The Punisher
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Power Stop comes with a break-in process to set the pads....500 miles is nothing, you aren't likely to have polished the rotors to the point you can't bed new pads...your call, just get ready to clean those rims a lot :)
 

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So these are the first painted wheels I've ever owned. Most wheel cleaners say safe for chrome, or aluminum. A few say "all", but I'm always skeptical of those claims. So for those of you that have had your cat for long enough to wash the wheels a few times, what have you been using? Is it effective, and did it damage the paint/coating at all?

I'm very familiar with the dust the Brembos can produce, so I expect that any of you that have had your car for more than a month are already experts at this. Since I just picked mine up on Monday, I haven't cleaned the wheels yet. I'm not necessarily looking for something to repel/reduce the brake dust. Just a safe cleaner for the wheels. I've used Eagle1 stuff in the past, and always been happy with it.
I have tried several cleaners and, like some have said, the coating is thin on the wheels so it is a risk after many uses. I have found that the only thing that really works is just soap, water and elbow grease. Everything else just leaves this nasty smear mess on the wheels that you have to wash off anyway. I just wash my wheels really well, dry them off and then apply a wax cleaner. Best thing yet.:)
 

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Soap and water is what Dodge recommends. Unless you are religious about cleaning your wheels this really doesn't cut it in my opinion.

I use and highly recommend Sonax Full Effect wheel cleaner. If you have never tried it the stuff will blow your mind. It's PH balanced, wont hurt your wheels (already been tested on my Hellcat wheels). It chemically bonds to and dissolves the iron on the rims from the break dust.

This is very similar to Iron X for paint but it is a gel formula. It's not cheap (I buy 5 liter jugs of it) but it's excellent.

It's supposed to be lemon scented but like Iron X it smells like a woman getting a perm in a porta-potty the night after she won a burrito eating contest. Smells nasty but man will it make your wheels CLEAN.

Many places sell this stuff. Here is some from Amazon

Amazon.com Sonax 230500 Wheel Cleaner Full Effect Refill - 169 fl. oz. Automotive

or

Amazon.com Sonax 230200-755 Wheel Cleaner Full Effect - 16.9 fl. oz. Automotive

I would also recommend some quality wheel brushes to get in between the spokes and to get the barrels clean. Finally some microfiber clothes to clean the back side of the spokes. I use my old micro fiber towels for the wheels and after I clean all four wheels I throw the towel out! I don't want that stuff coming out in the wash and getting deposited in towels I used on the paint.
 

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I have tried several cleaners and, like some have said, the coating is thin on the wheels so it is a risk after many uses. I have found that the only thing that really works is just soap, water and elbow grease. Everything else just leaves this nasty smear mess on the wheels that you have to wash off anyway. I just wash my wheels really well, dry them off and then apply a wax cleaner. Best thing yet.:)
Try the Sonax... You will love me for it ;)
 
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I second the suggestion of Sonax; a similar alternative would be 1Z Colourtec which I find to react/dissolve brake dust slightly faster.

As far as brushes/tools I'd recommend looking into some Wheel Woolies; they have multiple size options as well as one with a curved handle to get the back side of spokes/etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks everyone for the helpful replies!
 

· HCC New Jersey State President
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Anybody thought about clearing wheels to make it easier to clean I've asked my paint guy to look into it once I get my car
 

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Anybody thought about clearing wheels to make it easier to clean I've asked my paint guy to look into it once I get my car
Honestly these wheels are no harder to clean than any other wheels.

If you want to make them easier to clean I would consider putting a sealant type product on them. Something that you can reapply every six months or so. It will help make the surface slick and make it harder for the dust and dirt to stick. They key is that you have to clean them regularly. If you neglect your wheels then all bets are off. They will never be pristine.

There are dozens (more) of sealant products. You have to find the one you like. I would first apply it to the back side of the wheel spoke with the wheel off the car. This way you can see if it changes the sheen of the wheel at all (unless you don't care if it changes).

The key to clean wheels is regular washing (once a week minimum on a daily driver).
 

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I just use water.
Remember that water alone cannot provide lubricity for the brake dust and road grime that gets stuck to the wheels; you will need something more than just water to safely carry those particles away without causing damage to the wheels over time. You'll start to notice scratches and hazing all over the finish pretty quickly if you're rubbing the wheels with a brush or cloth that only has water on it.
 
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