Guide: Cleaning and protecting your Alloy Wheels

Right now in ‘Lockdown’ many are finding the time to do the jobs that don’t usually get done. I’ve never seen so many of my neighbours cars looking clean. So here’s my contribution to getting your wheels sparkling, as well as making sure they are easy to maintain throughout the rest of the year.

Sparkling and protected with a sealant to make them easy to clean on subsequent service washes.

This guide, in my humble opinion, strikes the right balance between ease and aesthetics. It requires an annual ‘deep clean and protect’ that gets them looking great and then a simple and fast way to keep them looking that way at each service wash, without the need for harsh cleaning.

Equipment you will need:

  1. Bilt Hamber Surfex HD 1L (or 5L) – all purpose cleaner (APC)
    Use ~5% solution to shift dirt (certainly no more than 10%).
  2. Bilt Hamber Korrosol – fall out remover.
    To soften and remove contaminates on the wheel surface to make it easier to de-contaminate with a clay bar
  3. Clay bar (medium or soft to mould to the intricate shapes of alloy wheels)
    I used Bilt Hamber Auto-Clay Medium
  4. A clay lubricant spray
    I used Meguiars Last Touch
  5. Wowo’s crystal sealant
    Use gloves and apply with caution. Poor application may require polish to remove. Without gloves it will stain your hands like you have a 60-a day smoking habit
  6. Microfibre cloths, microfibre pads, a pressure washer, wheel brush and gloves

The easy service wash

  1. Apply APC to the wheels (3 to 5% solution) and leave to soak
  2. If the wheels are really filthy then use a soft brush or sponge to agitate the dirt.
    Tip: Don’t use a harsh wheel cleaner or more abrasive brush as this will damage the protection layer left by the Crystal Sealant
  3. Otherwise, simply rinse with a high pressure spray
    Since the wheels are sealed the dirt will usually just come right off

The annual deep clean and protect

  1. Wash

    Spray the wheels liberally with APC and leave for a few minutes to soak and then rinse with a high pressure spray using a pressure washer.
  2. Clean with fall-out removal
    Spray with Korrosol and leave for a couple of minutes until nice purple streaks appear on your wheels.
    Tip: Do not let this product dry.
  3. Rinse with a high pressure spray from a pressure washer
  4. Wash thoroughly as normal with a gentle wheel brush or sponge
  5. Rinse
  6. Decontaminate with the clay bar and clay lubricant

    Tip: Make sure you spend the time to get every last bit of tar and road grime from the surface of the wheels
  7. 15 minutes later, stop and try to find a small stool to sit on and resume the decontamination stage.
    Tip: This is the longest stage and worth getting right.
  8. Wash, rinse and thoroughly towel dry
    Tip: You don’t want any water getting on the sponge on the next stage as it will interfere with the application of the sealant. So, best done in warm weather and leave a gap between this and the next step to allow any remaining water to evaporate from the wheel nut wells / tyre valve etc.
  9. Seal the wheels

    Apply Wowo’s crystal sealant to dry wheels with gloves and a microfibre pad. Read and follow the instructions
    Tip: Apply to small areas one at a time. Do not allow to dry. Wipe off / buff with a microfibre towel. A little goes a looong way. Work your way methodically around each wheel. Do not try to apply the product to an entire wheel all at once as it may dry and spoil the result.

Once done the surface of your wheels should now feel silky smooth, allowing dirt to slide off with ease at each service wash.

This should work for all standard, painted alloy wheels. Wheels with a different surface may be damaged by following the above guide. Always read the labels on the products and check with the manufacturer.

Questions or comments? Let me know!